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Maximizing Platform Value: Increasing VIRGINIA Class Deployments

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The FY11 Report to Congress on Annual Long-Range Plan for Construction of Naval Vessels (commonly known as the 30-Year Shipbuilding Plan) forecasts that the Navy's Attack Submarine (SSN) force structure will fall below the requirement of 48 SSNs in 2024, and will remain below the requirement throughout at least 2040 (the limit of the current report). Operating the fleet with fewer ships than necessary to meet commitments around the globe makes it imperative to maximize the mission time provided by each platform. Accordingly, the VIRGINIA Class Submarine Program Office (PMS 450) has developed a plan to mitigate this shortfall in force structure by designing reductions in depot-level maintenance, thereby improving operational availability and maximizing mission time. This plan is encompassed in the Program Office's Reduction of Total Ownership Cost (RTOC) goals. However, actions arising from pressure to reduce Total Ownership Cost (TOC) may have the potential to inadvertently limit available platform mission time if the full consequences, including indirect impacts, are not rigorously assessed and analyzed in advance. The VIRGINIA Class Submarine Program faced this challenge explicitly in implementing the RTOC program while simultaneously working through details of a class maintenance plan modification for later submarines that adds a deployment to the operating cycle. Reducing TOC, while making changes to both the maintenance plan and the platform design, requires an integrated analytic capability to assess the impact of potential changes to both cost and delivered mission time. Evaluating the impact of maintenance changes on mission time is complicated by interactions between multiple stakeholders involved in controlling and managing the lifecycle of the submarine—including those responsible for maintenance planning (and the ability of the maintenance facilities to execute the work), operations and training, and modernizations. An approach and analytic framework, which captures "TOC Effectiveness" (defined as Mission Time Delivered divided by Net Cost) is needed to balance divergent program and stakeholder goals. To capture TOC effectiveness, a time-phased dynamic simulation of the lifecycle employment of VIRGINIA Class Submarines (including depot maintenance time) has been developed to determine the likely submarine employment consequences of the plans, policies, and constraints of the stakeholders involved, and to ensure that the lifecycle maintenance plan targets are achieved. The simulation was validated against historical performance of LOS ANGELES Class maintenance execution at public shipyards, explicitly adjusting for known differences in VIRGINIA Class work packages (the first VIRGINIA Class depot maintenance availability did not start until October 2010). Simulation analysis has identified likely results of alternative plans and/or policies and provided insight into where changes can be made across multiple stakeholders to efficiently and effectively achieve program goals for deployments. The simulation is integrated into the VIRGINIA Class RTOC program process to identify specific areas where changes have high leverage to increase mission time, evaluate specific changes proposed by the RTOC effort, and track progress toward achieving mission time goals.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2011

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  • The Naval Engineers Journal is the peer-reviewed journal of the American Society of Naval Engineers (ASNE). ASNE is the leading professional engineering society for engineers, scientists and allied professionals who conceive, design, develop, test, construct, outfit, operate and maintain complex naval and maritime ships, submarines and aircraft and their associated systems and subsystems.
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