Chief Naval Officer Visits Shipyards




 
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January 10th, 2008  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: Chief Naval Officer Visits Shipyards


Portland (ME) Press-Herald
January 9, 2008 Adm. Gary Roughead says negotiations are ongoing on the contract for BIW to build the first DDG 1000.
By Matt Wickenheiser, Staff Writer
BATH The Navy's top military officer visited Bath Iron Works and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery on Tuesday, the start of a coast-to-coast tour of shipyards that work on naval vessels.
Adm. Gary Roughead, the chief of naval operations, started the day in Kittery, then toured BIW with Maine Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. Roughead ended the day speaking to personnel at the Brunswick Naval Air Station before boarding his plane and leaving the state. Roughead will visit yards in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Wisconsin and California in the near future.
In a short interview, Roughead touched on his plans for the size of the Navy as well as the status of the DDG 1000 destroyer and Littoral Combat Ship programs. BIW is one of two shipyards working on the DDG 1000, the next-generation of destroyer, and is also the lead contractor on one of two teams on the LCS program.
Asked when the Navy might award a construction contract to actually build the first DDG 1000, Roughead declined to comment beyond saying the contract was in negotiations.
"It will be negotiated out; I don't want to speculate on when that will happen," he said.
BIW has already been given the lead in building the first DDG 1000 with a September decision that it would get the equipment to be installed in the first ship, rather than the technology going to Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in Mississippi.
That helped alleviate a projected gap in work between the construction of the last Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and the first DDG 1000, but any slip in the work schedule could cause problems. The sooner a construction contract is awarded, the better chance work will be stable.
During a short interview after the BIW tour, Collins said Roughead "recognized the importance of that skilled work force and the need to maintain that work force."
Roughead said he sees a Navy of at least 313 ships -- compared to the current 280 -- but believes that number is a minimum. Having commanded both the Pacific and Atlantic fleets, Roughead said he believed even a 313-ship Navy "will not be enough for the mission we're going to be tasked with in coming years."
The Littoral Combat Ship fleet would be an "extremely important" part of that Navy, said Roughead. The LCS program has been under fire for cost overruns in the past year. Two shipbuilding teams, one led by BIW at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala., are working on a lead ship in the new class, designed to operate in coastal waters.
But in 2007, the Navy canceled contracts for each team to build a second ship due to concerns about cost overruns. Both teams' ships have seen cost overruns of 50 percent to 75 percent, according to the Navy.
Roughead said the Navy, shipyards and suppliers need to contain costs on naval programs, including LCS and the DDG 1000, which are estimated to cost $3.3 billion per ship.
"It's important that we ... define what we need," said Roughead. "Not really want, but need."
The Navy hopes to have seven DDG 1000 destroyers as part of the fleet, and 55 Littoral Combat Ships. As a open-ocean Navy, the U.S. hasn't paid much attention to coastal vessels, he said, but that changes with the LCS. Roughead said he also believes the LCS is "an attractive ship to other countries," as well.
Snowe and Collins said they were pleased with Roughead's tour, and that it was clear the admiral was impressed with the efficiencies at BIW.
In the battle for more shipbuilding dollars, it's important for the delegation to work with top naval leadership, said Snowe.
"If we're on the same page, it's very beneficial," she said.
 


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