Status of the Navy's New Seawolf Attack Submarine and Its New Combat System

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-04-26.

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

                       United States General Accounting    OEflce

For Release
on Delivery
Rcpected at
I:30   p.m.
April 26, 1990

                       Statement of
                       Frank C. Conahan, Assistant   Canptroller     General
                       National Securitv and International     Affairs   Division

                       Before the
                       kqislation  and National Security Sukcmmittee
                       Ccmmittee on Government Operations
                       U.S. House of Representatives

   GAO/T-NSIAD-90-36                                                       GA0F0rm160(12/fm
Mr.      Chairman           and members                 of    the         Subcommittee:

I am pleased                to    appear          before            the     Subcommittee                    today          to     discuss             the
status         of    the        Navy's          new Seawolf                attack             submarine             (SSN-21)             program
and      its      combat         system,          the        AN/BSY-2.

Both       the      SSN-21        program           and       the     BSY-2          program            are      scheduled                for        an
OSD Program                Review         in     June        1990.          Two weeks                ago      the     Secretary                 of

Defense           called         for      a major            review         of      the        SSN-21        program.                The

results,            with        recommendations,                     are      due         May 30.

The SSN-21             and       its      combat         system            are      multibillion                 dollar            programs.

To field            the     weapon             as fast        as it         can          in    order        to   counter             a
perceived            Soviet            quiet      submarine                threat,             the     Navy      has        planned             the

use      of    concurrency                not     only        between            the          SSN-21       and BSY-2               programs
but      within           the    SSN-21          and BSY-2            programs                 themselves             --        a practice
that       has proven             costly           in    previous             DOD programs.

Although            Soviet        submarine              capability                 is        increasing,             I believe                 that
in     recognition               of     the      realities            of      Defense             budget         projections                    as
well       as today's             changing              world        environment,                    concerns              over

affordability                   and concurrency                  need         to     be given              careful              attention
and      thorough           debate.

The Seawolf              wi 11 be larger,                    quieter,               tactically             faster         and      deeper

diving        than       Los     Angeles            class           attack          submarines             (SSN-688)              - the
last       19 of        which       are     currently                under          construction.                   The      Seawolf

will       also      carry       more       weapons            than          earlier           classes        of     attack

Critical           to    the     SSN-21           achieving               its       mission           requirements                is       the
successful              development               of    the         BSY-2        combat          system,          an advanced

computer           system        designed              to    enable             the      submarine          to      detect         and
locate        targets           faster        than          existing             submarine             combat        systems               can,
allow       operators            to      perform            multiple               tasks       and address             multiple

targets           concurrently,               and       reduce            the         time     between        detecting                a
target        and       launching           weapons.                 This          is    to    be accomplished                    through
computer-aided                  detection,              classification                        and     tracking,           the      use        of       a
wide       aperture           array        hull        mounted            sensor             and enhanced            information


The SSN-21              and BSY-2           are        being         developed                as separate            programs,

each       under        the     direction              of     its      own program                  manager         and      subject              to
its      own management                   system.            The BSY-2                  is    to be provided                 as
government              furnished           equipment                to      the        shipbuilder           building             the
The Navy              is        using          two       shipyards                to      design         the       SSN-21--the                    Electric

Boat       Division                of        General            Dynamics               Corporation                 and     Newport                News

Shipbuilding.                          Newport            News is             responsible                   for     the         submarine's

overall          design                under            a $343          million            cost-plus-fixed-fee                               contract.
Electric          Boat              is       designing                the     engine             room       and     its         equipment                 under

a $212 million                         cost-plus-fixed-fee                                contract.                Some         research                and

development                     and detailed                    design            efforts            wil 1 continue                    concurrent              :ly

with       construction                       of        the     first         SSN-21.

In     January              1989          the        Navy       awarded               Electric           Boat       a construction
contract              for         the        first        SSN-21.                 Delivery             is      scheduled               for        May 1995
with       an estimated                       cost        of         $1.9     billion.                 The Navy            expects                the      unit

cost       of    the            next         three            SSN-21's            will       decline              and     that         the        fifth         and
subsequent                  SSN-21s              will          not      exceed            $1 billion               each         in     1985        base

year       dollars               which           would          equate            to      $1.3       billion-in                 today's            dollars.

For     fiscal              year          1991,          the         Navy     is         requesting               $3.5     billion                for      the

second          and         third            ships,            two      combat            systems,           and         long        leadtime              items

for     the      fiscal                year          1993       program.

The BSY-2                  is    critical                to     the         submarine             achieving               its        full         mission
and performance                           capabilities.                      The Navy             has       no alternate                     planned
should          the         BSY-2            development                    be delayed.                  In March               1988,             the      Navy

awarded          General                  Electric              a fixed-price                     incentive               fee        contract              worth
up to       $1.84               billion              to develop               the         BSY-2       combat             system             and    produce

the     first          unit            for       the          lead      submarine,                with       options             for         two        more

systems          and            related              items.             Full-scale                engineering                   development                    is

scheduled           to proceed               into        fiscal       year        1996.          Total      development          and

procurement             costs        for        29 planned            BSY-2        combat            systems      are     estimated
to   be $7.4         billion             then       year      dollars.

SSN-21       AND BSY/2

Over      the    past           3 years         we have           issued      seven        products            on the
SSN-21        and    the         BSY-2       programs.              In     summary,            these       were

--   a March         24,         1987,       testimony             on the         SSN-21         and      BSY-2    programs

     during         which         we expressed                concerns            about        affordability              and

--   an April             28,     1987,         letter        to    Senator           Warner          comparing
     similarities                 between           the     SSN-21's          combat           system       and    the     B-1B's

     avionics             system         programs.                We concluded                that     when     production
     drives         the     development                   schedules          of    critical            state-of-the-art
     subsystems,                 technical           problems            identified              during        development
       testing       typically               impact         program          cost,        schedule          and

--   a March          13,      1989,        report          on technical               challenges                 in    development

     of     the     BSY-2.             We concluded             that        there        were          several          areas       of

     risk     where          increased            Navy       management             attention               should         be focused

     to meet          the      BSY-2        performance                 requirements               within          the     tight          time

     frames         and cost.

--   a November              27,       1989,      report        on the           SSN-21         construction                   program
     in     which      we discussed                   the    program's            status           and      its
     affordability.                      This      report       was originally                     issued          in     classified

     form      and has            just      been       released            in    an unclassified                       version.

--   a December              28,       1989,      report        on the           SSN-21         propulsor                and      other
     aspects          of     the       SSN-21         in    which        we presented                  a status           of

     propulsor              testing.

--   a January              31,     1990,        report       on the            Navy's       submarine                 combat
     systems.               On the        BSY-2        we discussed               cost       increases,                  schedule
     slippages              and a phased               de livery          of     the     f irst         system's           software.

--   a February              14,       1990,      report        on advanced                submarine               technology
     where        we concluded                  a better        process           needs           to    be established                    to

     ensure         the      transfer            of    such     technology               into          current           submarine

     construction                 programs.


Today       our             concerns              remain          remarkably                  the     same as reported                          in     our

earlier           products.                      I would          like        to     summarize               the       major         issues            we
believe           must          be addressed                      at     this        point          in      the       SSN-21         and        BSY-2



To meet               its     planned              Initial             Operational                  Capability                date         of    May

1995,           the         SSN-21          program              is    using         a concurrent                     scheduling                approach

which       has             construction                   ongoing            while           design         is       continuing.
Current           plans             call          for      as many            as 15 ships                   to    be on contract                       or

under       construction                          before           the     first          ship        is     available               for
operational                    testing.

The SSN-21's                    construction                       schedule              is    driving             the    development                   and
production                   schedule              of      its        combat         system.                In     1988       the      Navy
stipulated                   that          the     delivery              of     the       first          BSY-2         was     required                by
November                1993        to meet              the      scheduled               delivery               of     the    first            SSN-21.
However,               when         the      Navy          awarded            the        full-scale               development                   contract
for       the     combat             system,               it     agreed            to    have        all        system        hardware                and
about           86 percent                  of     its          software            delivered               to    the     Navy         by       that

date.       The remaining                          14 percent                 of     software               would        be delivered                   in
November                1994.

DOD reported                  that       the        combat            system           program               is      a low        performance

and     schedule              risk       but        a moderate                  cost          risk.               However,         as currently
scheduled,              this         program             could            be    a high           risk             because         of     the        large

quantity           of     software                that        will         be required                      for      system        development.
Development               of       the      BSY-2         is         one       of    the       most          technically                 challenging

and complex               software               development                    efforts               ever         undertaken             for        a
submarine.                The BSY-2                 combat            system           will           require           up to          900

software           personnel                to      develop               and       integrate                about          3.2    million               lines
of     code--over              2 million                 of     which           is     planned               to be written                     in    the
new Ada programming                            language.

The SSN-21               is    to     be built                using            modular           construction                     techniques.

For     this       technique                the      detailed                  drawings               for         a particular                ship
section         must          be accurate                 even            down       to       pipe          and cabling                runs         before

construction                  of     that        section              begins.                 The SSN-21's                    detailed              design
drawings           are        being         validated                 through              incremental                  testing           of

subcomponents,                     program           reviews,                  and construction                         of     full-scale
model       mockups.                 Changes             in     system              and subsystem                     configuration
designs         can       be costly.                     Problems               have          already              been       experienced                  in
this       area.          Because              of    two        BSY-2           design           changes,              portions               of     the
SSN-21         had       to be redesigned                            at    an estimated                      cost      of      $5 million.
Depending            upon          the      SSN-21's                 construction                     status,           further           design

changes         to      the        BSY-2         combat              system          or       any other               system           could
involve         costly             redesign,              rework               or    both.

The Navy plans                    to        buy     29 SSN-21s                   by the         year       2000       at    an estimated

cost        of   about           $44 billion                 in       then-year                dollars.

Fiscally            constrained                    budgets            and        the     cost        of    the       SSN-21        may      not
allow        the     Navy         to        buy     all      29 SSN-21s.                       The Navy's             SSN construction

plan        is   based           upon         several            assumptions                   which,          in    our    opinion,           may

not        be achievable.

To execute             the        SSN        construction                    plan        within           a shipbuilding                  budget
that        would      grow            at     an annual               real        rate         of    3 percent,             the      Navy

would        have         to:

--     increase            the         percentage                of    shipbuilding                     funds        allocated            to      SSN

       construction                    from        19 to         26 percent;
--     reduce        average                planned          SSN construction                           time        from    65 months              to
       about        52 months;

--     receive            authorization                     and       funding            for        an average             of     about
       3 ships         per        year;            and,

--      incur       no cost             overruns             requiring                 supplemental                  funding.

Further,            during             a period             of    zero           or    3 percent               negative           real      growth
budgets,            the         Navy's            planned         SSN program                   could          consume          up to

36 percent             of        its        shipbuilding                 budget.


Without        aggressive               funding,         the    Navy     will          probably     have       difficulty

executing           its        SSN-21      acquisition              program.            SSN-21     affordability
issues       will         likely        require      the       Navy     to make important                  trade      off

decisions.                It    is   our    hope     that       the     Secretary            of   Defense's         mandated
review       of     the        program      will     provide           the      high      level    attention          a

program        of    this          importance       deserves.