Arsenal Ship Lessons Learned Report

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Chief of Naval Operations
Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition)
Washington, D.C. 20350-1000
Director, Defense Advanced Research Project Agency
Arlington, VA 22203-1714

MAR 18 1996




This joint memorandum establishes the Arsenal Ship Program and provides the Director, Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and Chief of Naval Research (CNR) with precepts regarding the basic requirements, goals, and acquisition strategy for the program.

The basic requirement for the Arsenal Ship is to satisfy joint naval expeditionary force warfighting requirements in regional conflicts by providing the theater commander with massive firepower, lone range strike; and flexible targeting and possible theater defense through the availability of hundreds of VLS cells. To meet this warfare requirement affordably, the Arsenal Ship concept and design must be straightforward and simple. Detailed requirements and concept of operations are defined in separate documentation, however, key elements for the Arsenal Ship include:

  • Provide approximately 500 VLS calls, with the capability to launch Navy and joint weapons to support the land campaign;

  • Integrate the combat system with Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) links to serve in, or as, the off-board control;

  • Appropriate ship design features for survivability and ship self defense which could be incorporated at a later date if needed;

  • Low ownership Costs through the use of innovative maintenance and operational methods, procedures, and technologies;

  • Crew size will not exceed 50 personnel. The design objective will be to minimize crew size to the maximum extent below 50 which is technically feasible.
In the face of limited budget levels, the use of acquisition reform initiatives and streamlined contracting methods are paramount to meet the basic requirements of the Arsenal Ship in an affordable manner. To accomplish this, a non-acquisition category demonstrator ship shall be developed that will be convertible to a fleet asset at a future date.

In addition, cost must be viewed as an independent variable, and early industry involvement with the development of a cooperative industry-government team are viewed as key to achieve our goals. To minimize cost, the off-the-shelf systems will be used exclusively. Any development of new systems will require the approval of ASN (RD&A). The cost of acquiring the first ship will not exceed $520 million including the cost of concept development and competition. These funds will be provided jointly by the Navy and DARPA with contributions of $350 million and $170 million respectively. For FY 96, funds will be provided by reprogramming. For FY 97, funds will be requested as part of the budget request. The Program Objectives Memorandum process will be used to provide the funding.

The Director, DARPA; Commander, NAVSEA; and CNR are tasked to establish a plan for a joint Arsenal Ship Advanced Technology Demonstrator Program Office and identify to the ASN (RD&A) a candidate full-time program manager. The program manager will work closely with OPNAV staffs to ensure that requirements are understood and fully met, and with industry in a team approach to ship development and construction. The Arsenal Ship Program Office (ASPO) should operate as a "skunk works" organization, eliminating, or streamlining acquisition procedures, processes, and paperwork. The ASPO shall be comprised of representatives from DARPA, NAVSEA and CNR with a total maximum number of 9 personnel. DARPA will initially have program lead with transition to NAVSEA at an appropriate time during ship production. This program represents a good opportunity to take advantage of DARPA's culture and experience in prototyping to transition alternative business practices into how the Navy buys ships. The ASPO shall be initially located in the National Capitol Region and later co-located at the shipyard chosen to construct the first ship.

DARPA, NAVSEA, and CNR are directed to develop a detailed plan of action, milestones, technology initiatives, acquisition strategy, and budget necessary to execute the Arsenal Ship Program, with the goal to have a demonstrator Arsenal Ship at sea by the year 2000. Specific recommendations and actions necessary to accelerate ship development should be the focus of the plan, eliminating all procedures that are not specifically required by law. The plan should also provide systems integration approach and affordability initiatives to reduce acquisition and ownership costs.

The Arsenal Ship Program is among the highest priority programs within the Navy. All organizations and contractors participating in and supporting the Arsenal Ship Program should view it with priority, and proceed with a sense of urgency to achieve the goal of beginning demonstrator ship at-sea testing of the Navy's first Arsenal Ship in the year 2000.


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Last revision: 10 March 1998