Faster, More Affordable Shipbuilding

03 February 2003

In its part of the FY '04 budget request due to be published next week, the US Navy is expected to outline new approaches to funding and managing shipbuilding programs that deliver products faster and more affordably to meet fleet requirements, said Vice Adm. Phillip Balisle, commander of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA).

With the Navy keen to abbreviate the dip below 300-ships in its fleet force structure, service leaders have been looking at new efforts to achieve a 375-ship fleet sooner, including purchasing advanced technology ships, signing up for new contract vehicles and offering industrial base stimulus programs.

The Navy wants to work out ways to speed up the production time of new ships, for example using techniques and technologies associated with the aviation industry to support the construction of the new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). LCS, begun last year under six ship concept study contracts, is expected to yield a family of modular combatants capable of varied missions in the coastal regions and built using advanced computing, composite structures, and high-tech automation systems.

The advanced capability expected to come with LCS could be applicable to other markets in the United States and aboard, Balisle said.

""There is a lot of the case of LCS, we are looking very much at the possibility of a platform that may have applications, for instance, in homeland security, the Coast Guard and the missions they do,"" he said. ""If that turns out to be the case, then there would be an opportunity to leverage that as well as we shape this industry. And for that matter, to maybe create a platform that for the first time we could sell on the commercial market overseas to foreign customers as a brand-new ship.""

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