This Is How A Runaway Program Starts
The Navy is going to increase the Constellation’s length and width. From a Breaking Defense article,
The Navy has chosen to elongate and widen the hull of its next-generation Constellation-class frigate relative to the parent design, but the officer overseeing its production says the internal layout will largely remain the same. …
Well, if you can’t trust the program officer of the
LCS Zumwalt Ford Constellation, who can you trust?
While some changes are to be expected to meet the Navy’s needs, enlarging the hullform itself has the potential to change where components in the ship must be placed, as well as the overall cost. (1)
F/MM [Fincantieri/Marinette Marine of Marinette, WI] officials state that its FFG-62 design is based on the Italian variant, which has a length of 474.4 feet, a beam of 64.6 feet, a draft of 28.5 feet (including the bow sonar bulb), and a displacement of 6,900 tons.26 F/MM’s FFG-62 design is slightly longer and heavier—it has a length of 496 feet, a beam of 65 feet, a draft of 23 to 24 feet (there is no bow sonar bulb), and an estimated displacement of 7,400 tons, or about 76% as much as the displacement of a Flight III DDG-51 destroyer.
That’s an increase in length of 22 ft (4.5%) and an increase in displacement of 500 tons (7.2%).
This is exactly how runaway costs begin … just a little change. So, now we have a new hull with new internal layouts, new and untested sea keeping performance, new reserve weight margins, new stability margins and performance, etc. This is no longer a parent design, it’s a new design that shares only the parent’s name.
The Navy’s entire (fundamentally flawed) premise for this program was to minimize risk and cost by insisting on a mature parent design. Well, when you change the ship’s length and width you no longer have a parent design in anything but name. It’s a brand new ship design and brand new ship designs have one absolutely sure characteristic: they cost far, far more than anticipated.
There is also the issue of the Navy yet again lying to Congress. The Navy sold the frigate program on the basis of minimal risk and minimal cost due to the use of the parent design but, apparently, had no intention of abiding by that restriction. The hull dimension changes were not something that the Navy suddenly thought up yesterday. They knew from the start that they had no intention of retaining the parent hull. This is more fraud perpetrated on Congress by the Navy. It’s beginning to look as if the ‘parent design’ concept was just a marketing ploy to get Congress to go along with what the Navy intended from the start to be a basically new frigate design.
The Navy has already issued multiple construction contracts for multiple frigates before the first one is even complete. This is a repeat of the disastrous LCS approach where 55 ships were committed before the first was built and lessons could be incorporated and fed back into production. This approach was deemed acceptable only because the parent design was already mature and proven. Well, we now see that isn’t true – it’s a new design.
Source: Navy Matters