Sept 11/07 saw Northrop Grumman celebrate some milestones for its National Security Cutter program. The release arrived shortly on the heels of a Defense News Report that notes some of the process improvements in use within the program, but puts the total cost of the first ship at $641 million.
First-of-class ships are often more expensive, post 9/11 changes did add 1,000 of the final design’s 4,300 tons, and the NSC program compares favorably in many respects with past efforts like the AEGIS DDG-51 destroyers and CG-47 cruisers that now form the core of the US Navy. Even so, that $641 million price tag begins to place the Legend Class cutters in the same realm as the new Fridtjof Nansen Class AEGIS air defense frigates that form the high end core of Norway’s navy. Price tags often decline as more ships are built, but there are also cases like the LPD-17 San Antonio Class, whose $1.7 billion cost and 100% overrun on the first ship appear to have perpetuated throughout the build cycle.
Which example will this ship class follow? DID looks at the recent milestones and process improvements underway, in order to begin to answer this question…
Guam Industrial Services, Inc. in Santa Rita, Guam received a $9.8 million firm-fixed-price contract for a 90-calendar-day regular overhaul of Military Sealift Command’s fast combat support ship USNS Bridge [T-AOE-10]. The regular overhaul will include replacing of the air conditioning plant; installation of forward and aft marine sanitation devices; preservation of the underwater hull; examination and polishing of the propeller; propulsion shafting; rudder and keel examinations; overhaul of sea valves and drydocking. This contract includes options that, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $13 million. Work will be performed in Santa Rita, Guam, and is expected to be complete in December 2007. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Military Sealift Command’s web page, with 2 offers received (N40442-07-C-2006)
Like all of Military Sealift Command’s ships, the USNS Bridge is an auxiliary ship crewed by civilian mariners but under Navy command. She was transfered to MSC from her role as a Navy combatant ship on June 24/04. Bridge’s primary mission is to rapidly replenish Navy task forces; she can steam at 25 knots, and is able to carry more than 177,000 barrels of oil; 2,150 tons of ammunition; 500 tons of dry stores; and 250 tons of refrigerated stores. T-AOE vessels generally receive these items from shuttle ships like the new T-AKE Lewis & Clark Class, then redistribute them to carrier strike group ships.
Utah State University Research Foundation, North Logan, Utah, is being awarded $10M for cost-plus-fixed-fee completion task order #0007 under previously awarded contract (N00173-02-D-2003) for research in the area of Time Critical Sensor Image/Data Processing. Specifically, they will research advanced networking, compression/image processing, and ground/control station sensor processing. Under this task order the contractor will be required to support the development and demonstration of hardware and software systems for airborne and ground-based acquisition, recording, screening, dissemination, fusion, and exploitation of multi-INT sensor systems for manned and unmanned reconnaissance and surveillance systems.
This, too, sounds like an excellent future fit for the American RAID surveillance system. Its primary target, however, is the massive bandwidth crunch being created by hundreds of video-equipped UAVs and networked airborne ISR(Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance) systems sending video back to base. Obviously, any system that could improve the links in this chain, from screening and fusion of the information collected into smaller ‘packages,’ to better video compression and processing, to advanced networking, would be a big help. Other firms like Trident Systems are also doing R&D related to bits of this puzzle.
Work will be performed in North Logan, Utah, and is expected to be complete in September 2012. The Naval Research Laboratory, in Washington, DC issued the contract.
BAE Systems Advanced Technologies of Washington DC received a $17.9 million contract under the ARGUS program. Their objective is to develop a system that provides a real-time, high-resolution, wide area video persistent surveillance capability, then transition this capability to the military. Sounds like a perfect future fit for the American RAID surveilance system.