Submarine Technology: Transition Plans Needed to Realize Gains From DOD Advanced Research

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-02-14.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)


                  United   States   Generai   Accounting   Office
                  Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee a9
GAO               on Projection Forces and Regional
                  Defense, Committee on Armed Services,
                  U.S. Senate

February   1990
                  Transition Plans
                  Needed to Realize
                  Gains From DOD
                  Advanced Resewch
United States
General Accounting Office
Washington, D.C. 20648

Information     Management        and
Technology     Division


February 14,199O

The Honorable Edward M. Kennedy
Chairman, Subcommittee on Projection Forces
  and Regional Defense
Committee on Armed Services
United States Senate

Dear Mr. Chairman:

Your office requested that we (1) describe research efforts underway by
the Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency
(DARPA) on innovative submarine technologies, (2) assess plans for tran-
sitioning the research to the Navy for further development and imple-
mentation on submarines, and (3) determine whether the Navy is
planning flexibility into the SSN-21 SEAWOLF attack submarine and its
combat system to incorporate these technologies.

DARPA  serves as the central research organization for the Department of
Defense, performing various research projects designed to address many
hardware, software, and technological issues facing the military today.
Congress established the Advanced Submarine Technology Program
(AWP) in December 1987, to be executed by the Secretary of Defense
through the Director of DARPA. The program was set up in light of the
declining United States advantage in submarine technology. Congress
directed that the ASTP program should explore innovative state-of-the-
art technologies and establish a submarine technology base. The
Congress has appropriated $303 million for ASTPfor fiscal years 1988
through 1990. As of December 1989, DARPA had obligated $194 million
and expended an estimated $117 million.’

Under the ASW program, DARPA is conducting technology research that
could significantly improve submarine performance and increase the
U.S. technological edge. However, the Navy has not developed a strategy
for effectively transitioning ASTPresearch. Further, the Navy is not con-
sidering the ASTP research in designing the SEA!!LF submarine and is not
planning the submarine design with features that will facilitate later
implementation of technologies. Although a great deal of the technology
research remains to be performed, the Navy could begin planning now to

‘According to ASTP program office estimates, this represents the amount performing   organizations
have expended in conducting their contractual research work.

Page 1                   GAO/lMTEGV@-21      DARPA’S Advanced     Snbmarine   Technolorry   l’mgmm

                          Office of the Director of Research and Development Requirements, Test
                          and Evaluation, the Office of the Chief of Naval Research, and the David
                          Taylor Naval Ship Research and Development Center, (2) the attack sub-
                          marine division of the office of the Assistant Chief of Naval Operations
                          for Undersea Warfare, and (3) the Advanced Submarine Research and
                          Development Office, as well as ASTPofficials. The Board meets quarterly
                          to provide general program advice and to facilitate discussion between
                          Navy and DARPA officials on the status and the Navy’s use of ASTP tech-
                          nology research. At its meetings, Board members discuss such topics as
                          the status of individual projects, research successes, the relationship of
                          ASTPresearch to Navy plans and research and development activities,
                          and review and comment on ASTPdocuments such as the ASTP Long-
                          Range Plan.

                          In carrying out the congressional intent of AsTP,LWRPA is exploring new
ASTP Submarine            technologies as well as establishing technical centers and programs to
Technology Research       build a lmowledge base in specific areas where prior research is lacking.
                          Many of these technologies involve long-term research and can only be
                          implemented in a new submarine design. According to ASTPofficials
                          responsible for directing the research, other technologies could be avail-
                          able in the near-term and could be considered for use on existing sub-
                          marines or those currently being built or designed. The objectives of the

                      l identify and develop promising and revolutionary technologies that can
                        provide new and innovative design options for future U.S. submarines;
                      . mobilize and focus the industrial, academic, and government research
                        and development base to significantly improve future submarine per-
                        formance; and
                      9 demonstrate significant technologies and systems by rapid prototyping.

                          To perform the technology research, DARPA has awarded contracts to
                          over 180 organizations and has organized ASTP into five major program
                          areas, each managed by a separate program manager: (1) platform sys-
                          tems, (2) hydrodynamics, (3) materials, (4) mechanical and electrical,
                          and (6) structural acoustics.

Platform Systems          Because of reduced U.S. submarine capability to detect enemy targets
                          and the shorter amount of time available to respond to a threat, com-
                          manders must have more direct control of a submarine and knowledge


                            some research is focused on improving the ability to model the effects of
                            water flow through the submarine propeller and ways to reduce the
                            associated noise and improve efficiency. Another Center project is the
                            analysis of vortex systems generated by the interaction of the sub-
                            marine with the ocean. As the submarine maneuvers through the ocean,
                            cavities or vacuums are formed by the circular movement of seawater
                            surrounding the submarine and its appendages (i.e., a whirlpool effect).
                            This vorticity can affect maneuverability and the level of noise gener-
                            ated by the submarine. This project requires the development of reli-
                            able, automated computer systems to research ways for lessening the
                            effects of vorticity.

Materials                   The focus of the materials program area is to develop ways to use com-
                            posite materials (materials other than steel, such as fiber-reinforced
                            resin) for the pressure hull of submarines, as well as external and inter-
                            nal ship structures. Using composite materials for hulls can reduce a
                            submarine’s weight by 30 to 50 percent, reduce electromagnetic emis-
                            sions that can be detected by enemy submarines, reduce or eliminate
                            corrosion, and increase submarine design flexibility. In addition, DARPA is
                            developing automated processing and control systems for sensors that
                            would be embedded in submarine hulls to monitor the status of the com-
                            posite material. New sensor concepts, sensor response, and fiber optic
                            networks are among the technologies being explored.

Mechanical and Electrical   The mechanical and electrical program area is focused on developing
                            technologies and system concepts different from the traditional propul-
                            sion and weapons launch methods used for the past 30 years. This
                            research seeks to (1) reduce the weight and volume of propulsion
                            machinery, (2) increase fire power by launching more weapons faster
                            and more quietly, and (3) reduce electromagnetic emanations from the
                            submarine that could be picked up by enemy submarines. For example,
                            recent breakthroughs in semiconductor technology have made it possi-
                            ble to consider using solid state electrical components to reduce the size
                            of motors and generators, increase reliability and maintainability, and
                            include the potential for automation. Another project is addressing the
                            feasibility of using non-nuclear fuel cells to provide long-term silent sub-
                            merged auxiliary power for submarines.

Structural Acoustics        This program area will focus on both active and structural control. An
                            active control system is made up of sensors that identify and counteract

                            Page 6             GAO/lMTEGOO-21   DARPA’S Advanced   Submarine   Technology   Program

                      A  transition strategy is needed because DARPA'S objective under ASTPis to
                      research innovative state-of-the-art and revolutionary technologies and
                      concepts, rather than develop final products; thus at some point the
                      Navy needs to decide whether to take over the technology research for
                      development and implementation aboard submarines. Further, without
                      adequate transition criteria, plans, and procedures, valuable technology
                      research may not be continued since the Navy’s top priority for subma-
                      rine research is to fund those projects that offer improvements in the
                      near-term, and that reduce the cost of the submarine. Because of this
                      approach, there is no assurance that long-term ASTP research projects,
                      which could result in significant technological improvements, will
                      receive adequate consideration for transition to the Navy.

                      Part of the success of the ASTP program in transitioning technologies to
Planning for          the Navy also lies in implementing applicable technologies aboard
Implementation of     existing submarines and those being built or designed. Defense Acquisi-
Applicable            tion Circular 76-43 and Navy research, development and acquisition
                      procedures, which address acquisition management and system design
Technologies on the   principles, recommend using a pre-planned product improvement pro-
SEAWOLFSubmarine      gram to provide flexibility in the system’s design to accommodate future
                      technologies. This program considers, among other things, how the sub-
                      marine’s structure, space, and power could be configured to allow future
                      retrofitting of technological improvements with a minimum of

                      Using this technique and adequate planning and analysis are critical
                      given the estimated 50-year life of the SEAWOW submarine class, increas-
                      ing Soviet submarine capabilities, and DAFtPA's and the Navy’s ongoing
                      research. However, the Navy has not developed a pre-planned product
                      improvement program. Further, according to officials in the SEAWOLF
                      program office and the attack submarine division of the office of the
                      Assistant Chief of Naval Operations for Undersea Warfare, specific ASTP
                      technologies are not being considered in designing the SEAWOLF   subma-
                      rine. The SEAWOLF submarine is currently being designed and the lead
                      ship is planned to be delivered in May 1995. The officials stated that the
                      SEAWOLF  already has many capability improvements over previous
                      classes of submarines. Nevertheless, according to ASTP officials, some
                      technologies could be available in the near-term and could be considered
                      for use on submarines currently being designed or built. However, the
                      Navy has not analyzed these technologies to determine the benefits as
                      well as the costs and design implications of incorporating them into the
                      SEAWOW's design.

                       Page7             GAO/~GsO-21DARpA'SAdvancedSubmarineTeehnolo~Rogram

With regard to providing flexibility in the SEAU~OLF design to accomodate
ASTPtechnologies when they are developed, the officials felt that includ-
ing such flexibility would have to be based on a risk assessment of the
feasibility of the technology and the impact on the design. Our work,
conducted between April and December 1989, was performed in accord-
ance with generally accepted government auditing standards.

As arranged with your office, unless you publicly announce the contents
of this report earlier, we plan no further distribution of it until 30 days
from the date of this letter. At that time, we will send copies of this
report to the Chairmen, Senate and House Committees on Appropria-
tions; Chairmen, Senate and House Armed Services Committees; and the
Director, Office of Management and Budget. We will also send copies to
other interested parties and make copies available upon request.

This report was prepared under the direction of Samuel W. Dowlin,
Director for Defense and Security Information Systems. Other major
contributors are listed in appendix II.

Sincerely yours,

Ralph V. Carlone
Assistant Comptroller General

 Page 9            GAO,‘lMTRC9@21   JIARPA’S Advanced   Submarine   T&ology   Pm@nm
Major Contributors to This Report

                       Michael Blair, Assistant Director
Information            Andrew Patchan, Evaluator-in-Charge
Management and         Diana Olmstead, Evaluator
                       Sally Obenski, Evaluator
Technology Division,
Washington, D.C.

(510431)               Page 11           GAO/MlNXO-21   DARPAS Advanced   Submarine   Technology   Program
Requests for copies of GAO reports     should be sent to:

U.S. General Accounting    Office
Post Office Box 60;15
Gaithersburg,  Maryland    20877

Telephone   202-275-6241

The first five copies of each report   are free. Additional   copies are
$2.00 each.

There is a 25% discount    on orders for 100 or more copies mailed to a
single address.
Appendix I

Objectives, Scope,and Methodology

               In response to a request from the Chairman, Subcommittee on Projection
               Forces and Regional Defense, Senate Armed Services Committee, and in
               subsequent discussions with the Chairman’s office, we agreed to iden-
               tify research efforts underway by DARPA on innovative submarine tech-
               nologies and to assess plans for transitioning the research to the Navy
               for further development and implementation on submarines. We also
               agreed to determine whether the Navy is planning flexibility into the
               SFLGQLFand its combat system to incorporate these technologies. We
               performed our work primarily at DARPA in Rosslyn, Virginia; the Naval
               Sea Systems Command’s Advanced Submarine Research and Develop-
               ment Office in Arlington, Virginia; and the Office of the Chief of Naval
               Research in Arlington, Virginia.

               We interviewed numerous DARPA, Navy, and contractor officials who
               conduct and manage the research being performed on advanced sub-
               marine technologies and who are responsible for transitioning the tech-
               nologies to the Navy. We also analyzed relevant ASTPdocuments,
               including the ASTPLong-Range Plan, program review briefings, and
               Navy and Defense policies and regulations. We interviewed other mili-
               tary department, defense agency, and DARPA officials knowledgeable
               about ASTPtechnologies and submarine capabilities.

               To obtain background information on the ASTPprogram, we analyzed
               relevant public laws and congressional reports. For information about
               ongoing ASTPresearch, we interviewed the ASTPProgram Manager and
               Deputy Program Manager, and the five program area managers.

               We discussed analyses of ASTP technologies for implementation on sub-
               marines currently being built and designed with Navy SEAWOLF     officials,
               DARPA officials, and shipyard officials. We discussed the use of pre-
               planned product improvement techniques with the above officials, as
               well as officials in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

               While we did not obtain official agency comments on a draft of this
               report, we discussed the contents of this report with ASTPand Navy offi-
               cials, and have included their comments where appropriate. We per-
               formed our work between April 1989 and December 1989, in accordance
               with generally accepted government auditing standards.

               Page 10            GAO/IMTEGSO-21   DAEF’AS Advanced   Submarine   Technology   Pm-

                      With the $303 million appropriated for the ASTP program, DARPA is per-
Conclusions and       forming submarine technology research that offers the potential for sig-
Recommendations       nificant advances to improve U.S. submarine capabilities. Opportunities
                      exist, however, to realize the potential gain from ASTP technology
                      research by transitioning these technologies to the Navy for further
                      development and implementation on submarines. However, no criteria,
                      plans, or procedures have been developed for transitioning ASTP technol-
                      ogies. Development of such criteria, plans, and procedures could help
                      ensure that technologies are adequately considered by the Navy for
                      transition so that the knowledge gained from the research is not lost.

                      Further, by considering ASTP research in the SEAWOLF design and includ-
                      ing features to allow for later incorporation of technologies, the Navy
                      could maximize the submarine’s capabilities. Factors such as the poten-
                      tial significance of the technology improvement, its impact on the design
                      and other submarine components, and the feasibility of the technology
                      should be considered and evaluated to determine the overall cost-effec-
                      tiveness of including these features and the design flexibility. Although
                      all research on the technologies is not complete, consideration of infor-
                      mation on MTP technologies that is available could ensure that SEXWOLF
                      capabilities can be expanded to bolster U.S. submarine advantage.

                      Until the Navy develops a transition strategy and evaluates the ASTP
                      technology research for inclusion in the SEAWOLF design, the Congress
                      cannot be assured that knowledge gained from conducting $303 million
                      in DARPA research is fully considered for transition to the Navy for devel-
                      opment and implementation on submarines. Accordingly, we recommend
                      that the Secretary of Defense direct the Secretary of the Navy to

                  l   develop criteria, plans, and procedures to ensure that ASTP technologies
                      are adequately considered for transition to the Navy, and those most
                      promising transferred, and
                  l   analyze the ASTP technologies being researched to determine which ones
                      could be cost-effectively provided for in the SEAWOLF design to facili-
                      tate their later incorporation.

                      Appendix I describes our assignment objectives, scope, and methodol-
                      ogy. While we did not obtain official agency comments on a draft of this
                      report, we discussed the contents of this report with DARPA and Navy
                      officials, and incorporated their views where applicable. ASTP and Navy
                      officials generally agreed with the issues we raised, and said they would
                      focus attention on developing transition criteria, plans, and procedures.

                      Page8              GAO/INITEGSO-21~A'SAdvaneedSubmarineTeehnology~~~

                           the submarine’s acoustic emission before enemy sonars can detect the
                           presence of the U.S. submarine. Active control is a new area of study for
                           the U.S.; previously the U.S. focused mostly on different methods to con-
                           trol noise generated by the submarine itself. Structural control is
                           defined as using structural design and materials to control undesirable
                           noise inside the submarine. In the past, the U.S. defined this research
                           area narrowly, looking at structural acoustics and attempting to fix a
                           problem after it was observed. However, the ASTP program will develop
                           design and engineering options that will provide freedom in the design
                           and construction of submarines. Because of the lack of a well estab-
                           lished technical foundation in structural acoustics, much of the pro-
                           gram’s work lies in gaining a fundamental understanding of structural
                           control and how major structural systems must be incorporated early in
                           the design phase. Structural systems need to be a part of the initial
                           design because they are difficult to insert into existing units.

                           The key to achieving success with the ASTPtechnology research is tran-
Transitioning of           sitioning it to the Navy for development and implementation. In its
DARPA Technology           report on the 1989 Defense Appropriations Bill, the House Appropria-
Research   to the   Navy   tions Committee stated that “...the ultimate success of this effort will
                           depend to a large extent on the Navy acceptance through transition to
                           Navy programs”4 Further, the development of a transition strategy is a
                           way to minimize the risk that valuable technology research may not be
                           carried forward by the Navy, and avoid the loss of potentially signifi-
                           cant technological submarine improvements.

                           The Navy has given its Advanced Submarine Research and Development
                           Office responsibility for managing the transition of ASTP technology
                           research to the Navy, and intends to report to Congress on transitioned
                           ASW projects. Yet, the Navy has not established criteria for determining
                           how and when research projects should be considered for transition, nor
                           has it established plans and procedures for monitoring and managing
                           the transition of ASTP technology. According to MPA’S ASTP Long-Range
                           Plan, key steps in transitioning of the technology research should
                           include (1) developing a convincing analysis or demonstration of the
                           potential benefits, (2) providing evidence of an appropriate level of
                           technological maturity and practicability, and (3) developing an ade-
                           quate long-range budget plan.

                           4H.R. Rep. No. 681,lOOth   Con& 2nd Sess., at 188 (1988).

                           Page 6                     GAO/lMTEGOO-21      DARPA’S Advanced   Submarine   Technology   Program

                of the operating environment. Platform system research involves tech-
                nologies designed to take the vast amount of raw data available on a
                submarine and turn it into information a commander needs to respond
                more quickly and accurately to threats. According to WA,      automation
                techniques must be applied uniformly throughout the submarine plat-
                form, as a total system, to handle the large amount of information gen-
                erated during operations. The platform systems research is concentrated
                in two main categories of technology: (1) electro-optical systems, and (2)
                a submarine operational automation system.

                The development and application of advanced electro-optical systems
                could eliminate the need for rigid hull penetrating optical periscopes to
                make visual observations of the environment. Advancements in image
                processing, fiber optic links, and compact visual and infrared sensors
                are among the technologies being explored. One project that is being con-
                sidered for transition to the Navy is a non-hull penetrating periscope.
                The benefits associated with this new periscope include increased
                stealth and surveillance capabilities and greater flexibility in submarine
                design, since the command center could be located in several areas of the

                The submarine operational automation system is a long-term project
                that addresses the total automation of the submarine, including auto-
                mating life support systems, submarine weapons and self-defense, sen-
                sor data processing, and command-level functions. This project will
                investigate automating manual functions using advances in computer
                hardware and software that could significantly enhance submarine per-
                formance. The system will use a computerized command center to assist
                the commander in performing the complex tasks and situations encoun-
                tered in combat environments. Automating these functions is intended
                to provide the commander with real-time information on the status of
                the submarine and weapon systems, the location of enemy submarines,
                and ship maneuvering.

Hydrodynamics    Hydrodynamics influence a submarine’s stealth, tactical speed, maneu-
                 verability, ship control, and propulsion. This program area is intended
                 to provide the design capability to enable the submarine to maneuver
                 more effectively in the ocean.

                 A Hydrodynamics/Hydroacoustics     Technology Center is being devel-
                 oped to enable the Navy to quickly assess new design options and the
                 impact modifications will have on current ship designs. For example,

                 Page 4            GAO/lMTECXW21   DARPA’S Advanced   Submarine   Technology   Pmgram

             realize the gains from the ASTP technology research. Development of
             transition plans and procedures could help ensure the technologies are
             adequately considered for further development or incorporation on sub-
             marines currently being built and designed, including the SEAWOLF.

             Congress initiated the ASTP program because of the significant progress
Background   the Soviet Union has made in submarine development and the shrinking
             advantage of the United States in submarine technology. The Congress
             directed DARPA to research submarine technology because it was also
             concerned that “the Navy has discontinued most of its work in advanced
             submarine hull, mechanical, and electrical (HM&E) technologies...,“2 and
             that “efforts by the Navy to develop submarine technology may not go
             far enough in terms of the threat posed by Soviet naval forces.“3 Histori-
             cally, U.S. submarine quieting techniques and detection capability of
             enemy targets has allowed long detection range advantages that contrib-
             uted directly to increased U.S. submarine survivability. According to
             Navy and DARPA officials, the Navy may not have emphasized research
             in specific submarine technologies because the U.S. had enjoyed long
             detection range advantages over Soviet submarines. However, according
             to DARPA, recent significant advances in Soviet submarine quieting and
             detection methods have lowered and will continue to lower the U.S.
             detection advantage.

             In addition to WRPA'S research under ASTP,the Department of the Navy
             also conducts research on submarine technologies. Within the Office of
             the Chief of Naval Research, the Office of Naval Technology and the
             Office of Naval Research have research responsibilities that complement
             some of the work being performed by DARPA under the ASTP program, as
             well as include other types of research such as weapons and sensor
             improvements. The two offices also act as agents for many of the ASTFJ
             projects. In addition, the Navy’s Advanced Submarine Research and
             Development Office works with other Navy offices and DARPA to provide
             coordination, integration, and focus for advanced submarine research
             and development programs and submarine-related technology.

             TO  facilitate Navy involvement in the ASTP research, the Congress estab-
             lished an ASTPAdvisory Board in 1987. The board consists of Navy offi-
             cials representing (1) research and development activities within the

             “H.R. Rep. No. 410, 100th Con&, 1st Sm., at 233 (1987).

             “H.R. Rep. No. 58,lOOth Cc@, 1st SW., at 144 (1987).

             page2                    GAO/IMTEGso-21DARpA'SAdvancedSubmarineTeehnologyprolpam