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THE CONSTRUCTION OF VARIABLE PAYLOAD SHIPS

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The decoupling of combat systems from the platform makes it possible for shipyards and combat system suppliers to work in parallel without schedule or technological conflict. Great benefit is derived from building one, standard platform able to accommodate a variety of combat systems. The capability to build and test the payload modules independently, in a well equipped shore-based facility, means higher production efficiency and improved quality control. The standardization of payload-platform interfaces means that the detail design and construction of foundations and distributive systems need not be delayed if some of the combat system components are being upgraded at the time when the ship is in construction.

Additionally, shipyards recognize the value of the variable payload ship concept for major combat systems and weapons upgrades. Analysis shows that combat system changes will not lie on the critical path from a scheduling point of view if the payload items are modularized and conform to the Ship Systems Engineering Standards.

The shipyards intend to participate actively in the conservation of tenth-scale models and full-scale mock-ups. These mock-ups should prove valuable in the definition of interface requirements which must be incorporated in the Ship System Engineering Standards. The module installation procedures and clearance requirements for both weapons modules and pelletized electronics can be checked in this effective way.

Variable payload ship platform construction poses no technical problems as far as new facility requirements are concerned. Shipyards interested in assembling, testing, and installing payload modules would, however, have to use appropriate buildings, equipment, and cranes. These capital requirements are significant but reasonable for those yards that are likely to be interested in building frigates, destroyers, or cruisers. Furthermore, these yards generally plan for production improvements through better facilities, many of which would support variable payload production.

However, the shipyards are concerned about weapons module designs. The weapons module alignment requirements and techniques are of particular concern. The dynamic alignment procedures, which compensate for mechanical misalignments by computer software, are not yet a reality. Therefore, an alternate alignment approach and technique is proposed in the paper for further study. The shipyards are also extremely interested in the design of the destructive system connections between the ship and these weapons modules. Useful guidelines are provided in this area to aid the interface designer.
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Document Type: Original Article

Publication date: April 1, 1982

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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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