Time will tell whether the One Shipyard initiative will indeed help chart the way for the skilled and dedicated men and women who are the heart of America's public and private shipyards. The sine qua non for tomorrow's fleet and the continued health of the U.S. shipbuilding and repair industrial base that supports it, however, is more ships—both commercial and military.
Commercial Trends Down
The World War II emergency shipbuilding program revitalized U.S. shipbuilding from the doldrums of the 1920s and 1930s. Between 1942 and 1945, U.S. shipyards on all three coasts, the Great Lakes, and along major inland waterways employed some four million people and delivered about 4,070 cargo vessels, 720 tankers, 125 passenger ships, and 1,556 warships, at a cost of $12 billion. The results of this four-year outpouring of people, money, and materials were 36,960,592 tons of merchant shipping and a Navy second to none. 3
From its apogee in 1945, the U.S. shipbuilding and repair industry generally has been on a down slope—some would say death spiral. Between 1945 and 1970, commercial orders declined in the face of foreign competition, initially by European yards and then by Japanese, Korean, and Chinese shipbuilders, all heavily subsidized by their governments. By the late 1960s, the U.S. merchant fleet was significantly older than the world average.
In the 30-year run-up to 1985, U.S. shipbuilders delivered an average of 20 commercial vessels per year for both the domestic and international trades. From 1987 through 1989 there were no commercial orders, and during the next 13 years, U.S. yards received orders for just 112 ships and barges, about 8 ships per year, primarily for the U.S. coastwise trades, offshore oil industry, and the cruise ship industry. In 2003, only seven U.S. yards received new-construction commercial contracts.
"Except for the few ships we have built for Jones Act trade since 1990," Cynthia Brown, president of the American Shipbuilding Association (ASA), commented, "there is essentially no commercial shipbuilding under way. With the exception of the pure barge builders, the only shipyards—large, medium, or small—still in business today are here because of naval construction and repair." 4
A Navy–Coast Guard Safety Net
The United States emerged from World War II with the greatest navy the world had ever seen and without a peer competitor. Almost immediately, a general demobilization and mothballing of assets cut the Navy virtually in half, the victim of emerging concepts of strategic air power in the Atomic Age and a desire to get on with civilian life after nearly five years of war. Only the Korean War kept the service from near-oblivion.
The growth of the Soviet Navy during the 1950s and 1960s and the understanding that sea power remained an important tool in a strategy of mutual destruction drove the significant expansion of U.S. naval shipbuilding. By the mid 1950s, the Navy already had embarked on massive new-construction and force modernization programs that saw "super-carriers" under construction, long-range cruise and ballistic missiles put to sea, nuclear-propulsion incorporated into submarines and surface warships, and surface-to-air missile systems installed in ships for enhanced fleet air defense. In fiscal year 1963 alone, the Navy commissioned 25 new major ships, and many more were on the building ways as a result of past appropriations. U.S. shipyards were flush with orders and looked to a future of healthy backlogs.
But this renaissance was short-lived; in 1969, the Navy commissioned only five ships. To meet worldwide operational requirements, the service depended on the ships built during the 1950s and early 1960s and the modernization and service-life extension of its aging World War II assets. The 1970s were a period of relative shipbuilding quiescence. An average of about ten "battle group-capable" warships were laid down each year—less than half the rate of the previous decades. 5
The Reagan administration's 1980s buildup to a 600-ship Navy offered another brief boom. The Navy ordered an average of about 18 ships per year between 1980 and 1988, and the Coast Guard built 13 Bear-class medium-endurance cutters and 49 110-foot Island-class patrol boats. "During the 1980s, the U.S. shipbuilding industry became almost 100% dependent on Navy and Coast Guard work for its survival," Admiral Balisle acknowledged. Since the 1985-86 high-water mark, however, the U.S. Navy's shipbuilding program has withered, and in the early years of the 21st century it is barely treading water. Low naval ship production rates since the early 1990s—the lowest since 1932—coupled with the accelerated decommissioning of warships too expensive to operate or deemed "not operationally effective" against current threats, have resulted in a decline in active Navy force structure from 594 ships in 1987 to 294 ships in February 2004, the smallest fleet since 1917. Although the warships in service and being built today are highly capable, this situation flies in the face of Lenin's dictum: Quantity has a quality all its own.
With expectations of significant peace dividends, shipbuilding programs after the end of the Cold War were significantly constrained. The Navy requested an average of six ships each year from 1994 to 2003, and in fiscal year 2004 seven ships were appropriated. Over time, this building profile would result in a fleet of no more than 210 ships. The Navy does plan to expand its shipbuilding programs to about 9.4 ships per year during fiscal years 2005 to 2009, which, if continued over the long term, would be sufficient to sustain a fleet of approximately 300 ships. Even so, this would be far from the 375-ship fleet Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Vern Clark advocated in "Sea Power 21," which would require a sustained building rate of at least 12.5 ships per year. 6
"Now, this is the hole that we created," Admiral Clark testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on 10 February. "We're on the way. We're not there, and we've got to keep working on it. . . . We desperately need to [increase funding] to get the size Navy we need."
A "Rationalized" Industry
Coupled with the near-death of the new-construction oceangoing commercial vessel market in the United States, the steady decline in naval shipbuilding drove a radical and dramatic restructuring of the industry. Where once about a thousand small-to-giant shipyards and marine facilities thrived and employed millions of Americans, in 2002 only 350 or so companies, many of which are "mom and pop" or "up-river" machinery shops employing just a few workers, remained. At least 32 U.S. shipyards (and several foreign yards) were engaged in Navy new-construction and conversion programs during the 1960s; by the 1980s, that number had dwindled to 8. 7
The case of the nation's nuclear-capable yards is telling. In 1965, seven U.S. public and private shipyards—Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Electric Boat/Groton, Electric Boat/Quincy, Ingalls Shipbuilding, Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock, and New York Shipbuilding—were building nuclear-powered submarines. In 2004, just Electric Boat and Newport News are capable of new-construction nuclear submarine work.
With regard to Navy and Coast Guard requirements, in 1990 14 U.S. yards were capable of constructing large commercial ships and sophisticated warships and cutters. Since then, mergers, acquisitions, and closings have consolidated the nation's new-construction capabilities for highly complex, large warships to just six private yards, owned by two corporations:
- General Dynamics—Bath Iron Works, Maine; Electric Boat (EB), Connecticut and Rhode Island; and National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO), California
- Northrop Grumman—Avondale Industries, Louisiana; Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (formerly Ingalls Shipbuilding), Mississippi; and Northrop Grumman Newport News (formerly Newport News Shipbuilding), Virginia
According to a 2001 Department of Commerce study, these six "tier-one" shipbuilders account for two-thirds of the industry's total revenue and perform nearly 90% of all military work. 8 Fully 95% of their revenues are defense-related, and the "Big Six" were responsible for about 11% of the industry's commercial work from 1996 to 2000.
The Navy's public shipyards also have experienced economic rationalization and "right-sizing" as a result of reduced ship orders and number of ships in the active fleet. "We are carefully steering our way through the ‘goal posts' to become much more efficient at what we do without compromising operational readiness or effectiveness," Rear Admiral William Klemm, Deputy Commander, Logistics, Maintenance, and Industrial Operations (NavSea 04), pointed out. "Like the commercial shipbuilding base, the Navy's shipyards consolidated and realigned facilities to garner a 70% reduction in workforce, going from eight yards in 1990 to today's four: Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, and Norfolk Naval Shipyard." 9
In a move reflecting that need to reduce overhead and sustain engineering excellence, last May the Navy consolidated two West Coast facilities, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and the Bangor-based Navy Intermediate Maintenance Facility—"increasing" the shipyard's workforce by 1,700, to 10,200. Although the two facilities were less than 100 miles apart, it had proved difficult to respond to changes in either's workload, under "business as usual" rules. The merger "will help alleviate this problem," Admiral Walter Doran, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, stated. 10 "It will reduce infrastructure requirements . . . while simultaneously creating a workforce better able to support the fleet's needs and a force better able to surge at unpredictable levels."
"This rationalization of the industry has generated additional ‘negative externalities' for the United States," ASA's Cynthia Brown cautioned. "Whereas we once had three suppliers for a critical ship system or component in the United States, today there is only one, and that one supplier is struggling to survive. A perfect example can be found in the Virginia [SSN-774] submarine program, where 75% of the suppliers are sole source."
In addition to the possibility that U.S. suppliers might get out of the business altogether, this situation raises concern about competition. This was evident in the sole mention of shipyards in a January 2004 Department of Defense report on the U.S. defense industrial base: "On some occasions it becomes necessary for the Department to interject itself to avoid, or even break up, teaming arrangements between companies in order to sustain competitive conditions and nurture innovation." 11
A Smaller, Graying Workforce
The reduction in naval business has caused a similarly dramatic contraction in the industry. Today, just 7% of the nation's shipyards and facilities (24 of about 350) account for about 65% of the U.S. production workforce. In 1982, that workforce included some 112,500 men and women; two decades later, the shipbuilding and repair industry had approximately 44,700 production employees—a decrease of 60%. 12 Northrop Grumman Newport News, for example, the nation's sole builder of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and one of two yards capable of building nuclear-powered submarines, watched its skilled workforce, which includes design and production engineers, plummet from 30,150 people in 1985 to 16,450 in 2001. Since then, Newport News has enjoyed some growth, to about 18,100 people at the end of 2003, but sustaining this is dependent on U.S. government orders.
Similar draconian cuts were endured at Electric Boat, according to Mike Toner. "Because of the low-rate production of submarines during the 1990s, and the fact that labor comprises about 60% of the construction component, we went from more than 28,000 people at Groton and Quonset Point to about 11,470 today—with about 5,000 people on the waterfront. We took a hard look at the Navy's plans," he added, "and crafted a business model that made sense given the reality we faced."
The Big Six shipyards slashed their design, engineering, and production workforce from almost 83,000 in 1992 to 53,000 in January 2004. In 2000-2001, these yards employed about 94% of the U.S. naval architects, engineers, and other marine professionals. Compared to the overall industry, in which more than two-thirds of the workforce is production workers, less than 60% of the Big Six's workforce hours can be attributed to production.
"Even more critical to our future," noted Tom Schievelbein, president of Northrop Grumman Newport News, "is lack of stability in our industry, which makes it difficult to recruit and to provide experience for new engineers and production workers. Industry wide, our production workforce age averages in the mid-forties and, as these skilled people retire, I'm concerned whether we will have experienced replacements." 13
This concern was echoed by Mike Toner: "As we are unionized, seniority rules were applied and, generally, we had to let the younger people go, which meant we essentially mortgaged our future."
"We do have to think broadly in terms of human capital to meet the nation's shipbuilding and repair needs over the long haul . . . and think eight-to-ten years in advance," Admiral Klemm affirmed. "It takes nine years for us to ‘grow' a skilled nuclear-capable shipyard worker, at a significant cost to us or a private yard. We need to keep the people we have employed, with good work that keeps them satisfied. Otherwise, we'll lose them, and it will be years—if ever—before they can be replaced."
Keeping those workers will be difficult, if for no other reason than the industry's relatively low wages. A 2001 Department of Commerce study determined that shipyard production workers earn, on average, $15 per hour (excluding fringe benefits), and real wages actually have declined since the early 1980s. Shipyard pay is barely above the national average for manufacturing, while the average hourly wage for production workers in the aircraft ($24) and automobile ($27) industries is significantly greater—and the gap is widening.
That, plus the uneven workload, harsh and sometimes dangerous work environments, and competitive labor market, contributes to job insecurity and high labor turnover rates, some of the highest in U.S. manufacturing, the Department of Commerce confirmed.
To help combat this problem, General Dynamics Marine Systems has rejuvenated its apprentice programs with the expectation that future shipbuilding contracts will support them and to replace retiring workers. "We have ‘associate-degree' programs for our trades and engineering workforce," Mike Toner explained. "We have linked to Maine Maritime Academy for our engineering and draftsman apprentices, so that when they graduate they have a two-year associate's degree. Likewise, we are teamed with Three Rivers Community College for our tradespeople, for an associate's degree in their disciplines. Coupled with our aggressive tuition-reimbursement initiatives, this is allowing us to replace our retirees and to reincentivize all our employees."
Innovation and Transformation
In 1971, then-president of Ingalls Shipbuilding Ellis B. Gardner Jr. noted of his industry: "[T]he people-intensive nature . . . produces the situation where considerable management and money resources are directed from production efficiency into caring for the people doing a lot of different jobs needed to build ships." 14 Coupled with constrained technical flexibility and their capital-intensive nature, he argued, it was unlikely any shipyard would allocate significant resources for changes or modernization.
"We are building the world's most sophisticated, complex, and capable warships using an industrial base that is at least two generations behind the Europeans and Asians," Dr. Phillip Dur, President, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, underscored. 15 The challenge for the industry is to ensure that motivated people possessing the necessary engineering and production skills are available to meet future needs, and to modernize and innovate at the margin. "In collaboration with Louisiana and Mississippi, for example, we are making a $500-million commitment to upgrade our Avondale, Gulfport, and Pascagoula facilities, to help the nation ‘maintain a navy,' as the U.S. Constitution requires."
"But it's highly doubtful," he predicted, "that anyone will have the capital resources to build from the keel up a modern, sophisticated ship manufacturing facility like Ingalls did in the late 1960s and early 1970s in Pascagoula. The potential return on such a large investment today, frankly, is far too low."
Although large-scale investment for modern facilities and new technology is drying up, "we have taken good advantage of advanced technologies and efficiencies where it makes business sense to do so," Newport News' Tom Schievelbein said. "We have embraced robotic and advanced welding technologies, for example, as well as highly sophisticated computer-aided design, engineering, and manufacturing tools to increase productivity and deliver a better product."
Several of the Big Six have garnered the resources necessary to establish "centers of excellence" in certain critical areas. Early on in the design of the Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarine, for example, General Dynamics' Electric Boat took advantage of advanced computer-aided design tools to establish a virtual submarine design center, in which critical elements of the sub could be "built" and "integrated" by computer well before any metal had to be cut—saving time and avoiding costs.
"And we are making significant investments in facilities to greatly enhance our production efficiencies and effectiveness," Mike Toner added, "and not only at the margin. We have committed $300 million at Bath [Iron Works] to enhance the land-level transfer facility that will increase overall productivity significantly." General Dynamics also has invested $100 million at NASSCO to bring that shipyard up to speed, as a center of excellence for naval auxiliaries. "We are looking at all ways in which we can bring technology, process, people, and tools to build complex ships faster and better," Toner stated, "and in the process we have changed the shipbuilding paradigm, of design-to-delivery, by 50%."
Newport News, in consort with the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the late 1990s built the Virginia Advanced Shipbuilding and Carrier Integration Center (VASCIC) to serve as a "hotbed" for innovation, change, and transformation in the way warships are designed and engineered, constructed, and maintained. "VASCIC is designed to serve as the focal point in bringing the best of industry and academia together to research, test, and subsequently integrate emerging technologies that enhance effectiveness of future carriers and other complex warships in a cost effective manner," Tom Schievelbein explained.
"We have also established a center of excellence for composites," John B. "Jay" Foley, vice president of Northrop Grumman's Gulfport Operations, said. 16 "Advanced composite materials are increasingly finding their ways into the designs for large warships, and are not to be limited to small ships, like mine hunters, or specialized enclosures. Instead," he noted, "we are looking at expanding the work we've done on such large items as the composite mast tested on the USS Arthur W. Radford [DD-968] and the [ San Antonio -class] LPD-17 and employing that technology throughout the DD(X) superstructure." This work also might find its way into the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship, inasmuch as Northrop Grumman's Ship Systems now has been included in the Raytheon team competing for a mid-2004 down-select, and the composite hull and superstructure of the Offshore Patrol Cutter for the Coast Guard's Deepwater Program. Again, a close relationship with government was essential, and the state of Mississippi arranged for a $48-million bond issue to cover modernization of the company's physical plant and machinery. "This is clearly an excellent example of solid partnership between government and industry for the future of both," Foley pointed out.
"In what should be seen as a prelude to NavSea's One Shipyard concept," Mike Toner noted, "in the mid-1990s the Navy [decided] to combine forces on the Virginia -class SSNs." With the prospect of only one SSN per year until the out-years of its proposed shipbuilding program, the Navy struggled with ways to sustain a minimum-essential nuclear-submarine construction capability in the two yards. "Together we hit on the idea of sharing equal workloads on the new attack subs," Toner explained, "with EB taking the lead on one submarine and Newport News the other." According to the CNO's 2003 "Vision . . . Presence . . . Power" program guide, "construction of the first four ships will be shared by ship section. NNS will build the bow, stern, sail, and selected forward sections for each submarine. EB will build the hull sections, the engine room modules, and the command-and-control system operating spaces. EB will assemble and deliver the first and third ships; NNS, the second and fourth." 17
This industry teaming will be expanded to the five Virginia-class SSNs that were the subject of a multiyear contract award in January 2004, which alone will save the Navy some $400 million compared to an acquisition strategy of a single sub per year. "Although I was a bit concerned at the beginning," Toner admitted, "this teaming . . . has worked out much better than we ever suspected it could. It clearly has been a win-win-win solution for us, Newport News, and the Navy."
One National Shipyard?
According to the Navy, One Shipyard is a concept whose time has come, and it mandates a team effort by Navy civilian and uniformed employees from all four public shipyards, who have a stake in building a culture of readiness for the sea services. 18 "Our shipyards are national assets," Admiral Balisle stated, "which are dedicated to maintaining fleet readiness in the war on terrorism."
"The One Shipyard initiative will allow us to take a closer look at our current practices and processes, make modifications where appropriate, and incorporate improved efficiencies and effectiveness throughout all the public shipyards that will eventually translate into smarter spending practices," Admiral Klemm added. "It is clearly founded on the CNO's Sea Enterprise element of 'Sea Power 21,' and is one of the keys to achieving the Navy's goals toward finding greater process efficiencies and to resource tomorrow's fleet."
Led by the Navy's Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Sea Enterprise "seeks to improve organizational alignment, refine requirements, and reinvest savings to buy the platforms and systems needed to transform our Navy," Admiral Clark explained in "Sea Power 21." Other Sea Enterprise—and, indeed, One Shipyard—goals include reducing overhead, streamlining processes, substituting technology for manpower, creating incentives for positive change, and resourcing the fleet.
The One Shipyard concept focuses on cost, schedules and quality through standardizing processes, sharing resources among public yards, and partnering with private yards. Other vital elements are material support cooperation, reduction in and avoidance of cost and schedule increases, and resolving critical skill shortages and timing mismatches.
"The One Shipyard concept is a descriptor for a distributed, integrated complex of several facilities throughout the United States, all linked to form a virtual national shipyard," Admiral Klemm explained. "With the reduced size of the public and private industrial base, we've come to the point where sustaining critical skills has achieved a level of margin that is very difficult to sustain in the long run. To deal with that, we tended to concentrate skill sets in certain areas and share those skill sets rather than have each individual yard or facility build and sustain some of the same skill sets that are rarely used and, therefore, very costly to maintain."
One Shipyard will allow the Navy to move skilled shipyard people from one yard to another, wherever the requirements are most pressing. For example, shipyards such as Northrop Grumman Newport News, Electric Boat, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, and Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard all have skilled trade workers employed who are drawn from other shipyards. "The industrial base today has an adequate number of resources, but they are not necessarily where the ships are," Admiral Klemm acknowledged. "Therefore, we have to move those resources to where the ship is and at the time they are required. Our forces have to be more mobile and more flexible in responding to the workload."
In addition, One Shipyard will expand to preplanning work packages, work assignment, accounting systems, and quality assurance. "We will be spending a lot of time and energy to try to come up with common processes, procedures, and methodologies," Admiral Balisle added, "so that workers from one geographic region in the country can work at ease in any setting they find themselves."
The 2003 restricted availability in Mayport, Florida, for the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) is an example of what is intended. Because of other ships' maintenance requirements on the East Coast, Mayport had insufficient skilled people to accommodate the John F. Kennedy in a timely, cost-effective manner. However, with no carriers in Bremerton, Washington, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard had the right mix of skills at the right time to meet the need—on the other side of the country. Some 600 Puget Sound workers traveled to Mayport to provide skills in short supply. One Shipyard is enabling NavSea to "level-load" the requirements for skilled shipyard workers throughout the country, not just at a single facility, and maintain effectiveness while maximizing cost-efficiencies—"threading the ‘goal posts,'" in Admiral Klemm's metaphor.
By Greg Maxwell and J. Robert Bost
A key element of "Sea Power 21" is the Sea Warrior initiative, which will "serve as the foundation for warfighting effectiveness by ensuring the right skills are in the right place at the right time." This initiative will focus the Navy's talents, imagination, and energies to achieve what Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Vern Clark sees as "streamlined teams of operational, engineering, and information technology experts who collectively operate some of the most complex systems in the world."
If the Navy is to be successful in this, no longer can the men and women of crews be merely afterthoughts, plugged into warships' designs long after other important decisions and trade-offs have been made. Instead, human performance must be considered, up front, as a desired warfighting capability, much the same as any key performance parameter. Indeed, "Sea Power 21" underscores "the human factor in the development of advanced technologies [and] that the warrior is a premier element of all operational systems."
In short, the discipline of human system integration (HSI) is critical to mission success. To implement HSI correctly, the Navy must change dramatically how it designs, engineers, acquires, and support its warships.
Sailor Performance Is Critical
For more than 200 years, Navy engineers and managers have designed, engineered, tested, and acquired systems and platforms without regard to human operators' and maintainers' skills and performance, measuring success or failure by focusing on hardware and (since the advent of computers) software. Rarely did they consider accommodation of humans to be a key system element. As a result, manning and training costs have remained high and the service has had to cope with technological systems that are confusing to operators and difficult to maintain, or have unforeseen frailties.
The July 1988 downing of an Iranian Airbus by the USS Vincennes (CG-49), for example, was a tragic wake-up call. The ship's combat information center (CIC) personnel misunderstood the source of an important call on the identification of the track, believing that the identification of an Iranian F-14 provided by a person in the CIC was more reliable than it actually was. Later analysis showed how the CIC crew, operating in a high-stress environment, with both gun and communications circuits failing in a time-compressed situation, made decisions that led to the destruction of the airliner and the loss of 290 passengers and crew. Among other needs, the subsequent tactical decision-making under stress (TADMUS) study concluded the Navy had to take people into account in the initial design and engineering of its combat, communications, and training systems, particularly since advancements in information technology and processing were dramatically increasing the amount of data and information available to operators. TADMUS demonstrated that the Navy needed to do better, but only gradually has the idea of incorporating HSI in system and platform design gained currency.
Likewise, the financial cost of not accommodating people traditionally has been ignored. The Navy's conscription mentality usually results in it solving shipboard problems by throwing more people at them. With increasingly tight fiscal resources and the cost of a crew commonly comprising some 60% of the total ownership costs of a ship, the service gradually has come to realize that people need to be considered more as integral elements of the total ship system. Even so, more often than not HSI has been perceived as too difficult, too expensive, and too "touchy feely."
It Is Systems Engineering
Human systems integration is a specialized, formal engineering discipline, essentially the marriage of systems engineering and behavioral science. Its primary concerns are for the safety, performance, and interactions of people with the equipment they operate and maintain. The fundamental objective of HSI is to influence systems design and engineering such that human capabilities and limitations are taken into account to ensure the resulting systems will have the highest and safest performance at the lowest total ownership costs. HSI provides a disciplined engineering approach to an area traditionally perceived as being more intuitive and arcane than scientific and empirical. Incorporating good HSI principles in systems engineering leads to good human performance, which is one of the (if not the most) critical elements in overall systems performance and mission success.
The Vincennes tragedy generated numerous HSI initiatives and programs, and much has been achieved in the past few years. For example, the Navy now employs several top HSI specialists, and these people have been working to institutionalize this discipline throughout numerous Navy platform and systems acquisition programs. In addition, the Integrated Command Environment Project at Naval Sea Systems Command in Dahlgren, Virginia, focuses on a multimodal advanced computer interface/interaction capability, human-performance modeling capabilities, and the human-centered design process.
All these programs have been valuable, but they are piecemeal initiatives. Much more is needed if "Sea Power 21" is to be realized.
In September 2002, Vice Admiral Phillip Balisle, Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command, announced the creation of the Human Systems Integration Directorate (NavSea 03). The directorate serves as NavSea's single point of contact with the Chief of Naval Operations, Commander, Fleet Forces Command, Office of Naval Research, other systems commands, Naval Education and Training Command, and other Navy, Defense Department, and joint offices for HSI- and human-performance-related activities. The HSI Directorate has been charged with examining the entire Navy acquisition process from the human-performance standpoint, and in its first year it has challenged the business-as-usual approach of the Navy to sustaining operational readiness.
The HSI Directorate assists program executive officers, program managers, and Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command, with all aspects of HSI. In addition, it helps align NavSea with the Chief of Naval Operations revolution-in-training initiatives. The directorate's top-level objective is to maximize warfighting capability at minimum cost through effective application of HSI, optimal manning, tailored training, and measured human performance. This objective will be reached by ensuring that the human element is given equal treatment alongside technology, equipment, computers, and computer programs during systems development.
In early 2003, NavSea 03 announced the establishment of the NavSea Human Systems Integration Clearinghouse for Issues and Policy. This web-based tool ( www.hsiclip.org  ), based on previous work on the DD-21 program, provides a broadened forum in which design agents and the fleet can identify and vet unclassified human systems integration, personnel, and training issues that affect surface ship and submarine designs. The overall goal is to optimize sailor performance by identifying these issues, resolving them, and integrating improved design features and policies into shipboard combat, engineering, logistical, and administrative systems.
During the past year, NavSea 03 already has completed the following:
These are just the initial steps in a campaign to ensure HSI is an integral part of the Navy's culture.
Rice Bowls Abound
Although a counterrevolution to Navy HSI is not yet evident, the service confronts numerous challenges on this front. There is an across-the-waterfront dearth of qualified HSI engineers in the Navy's workforce and among defense contractors that, unless overcome, will hamstring future efforts. Several engineering schools throughout the United States are beginning to address this shortfall, but it will be several years before a significant number of HSI-trained system engineers enter the workforce. The Air Force and the Army award degrees in human factors at their academies, but the Naval Academy offers no courses on the subject. In the Navy academic community, there is one bright star: the Naval Postgraduate School new master's degree program in HSI.
Despite increasing awareness of human operators as parts of systems, the hardware/software focus remains alive and well, as reflected in the Navy's various transformation initiatives, Sea Trials, and the panoply of joint experiments, fleet battle experiments, and science and technology demonstrations.
"What this spells is a lot of opportunity to place the latest whiz-bang technology at the disposal of the fleet," said Rear Admiral David M. Crocker, former Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force, in fall 2002. "Unfortunately, in my experience, it also can spell significant problems for the fleet if these things are fielded without the rigors of development and testing. I am certainly in favor of getting these leaps in capability to the fleet faster, but not at the expense of things like training, logistic supportability, proper integration, and human factors."
The vision of "Sea Power 21" will be achieved only if sailors are integral parts of the system from the outset.
Mr. Maxwell is the Deputy Commander, Human Systems Integration Directorate, Naval Sea Systems Command, and Mr. Bost is the Technical Director, Human Systems Integration Directorate, Naval Sea Systems Command.
"Basically," Admiral Balisle noted, "we are going to mold the Navy's public industrial base into the most efficient and effective force we can at a time when we believe the nation has a critical need for that kind of transformational infrastructure. It won't be easy," he admitted, "but with the right planning tools and standardized procedures and processes, and maintaining mutual trust among all participants, we can make it work."
That approach clearly extends to the private sector, and could expand beyond maintenance and repair to new-construction work. "The global war on terror and the changing nature of the Navy's operational concepts demands that we investigate a 'national yard' that leverages the skills resident everywhere," he stated. "When you think about it this way, we really don't have four public shipyards, or just six tier-one yards, not to mention second-tier yards and the supplier base, but a single, national shipyard, at least that's devoted to Navy and Coast Guard work."
"We're already doing this," Mike Toner underscored. "EB is working hand-in-glove with Portsmouth to rationalize and balance the workloads between the two facilities. We are developing seamless work papers, and in some cases Groton has the lead and on others the lead facility is Portsmouth," he added. "Many times you can't tell the difference between a Portsmouth and an EB employee. They're both there, doing the country's business."
This Way Ahead?
The importance of America's shipbuilding industry to the nation's security has been evident from the earliest days of the Republic. In a message to the House of Representatives in 1793, for example, Thomas Jefferson underscored the essential value of "our navigation"—ships and the people who build and man them—to the United States:
Its value, as a branch of industry, is enhanced by the dependence of so many other branches upon it. . . . But it is as a resource of defense that our navigation will admit neither neglect nor forbearance. The position and circumstance of the United States leave them nothing to fear on their land-board, and nothing to desire beyond their present rights. But on their seaboard they are open to injury, and they have there, too, a commerce which must be protected. This can only be done by possessing a respectable body of citizen-seamen, and of artists and establishments in readiness for shipbuilding. 19
More than 200 years later, with the nation confronting a broad range of asymmetrical national security threats and challenges—many close by our seaboard—Jefferson's caution is especially apposite. The United States remains a maritime nation, tied to the sea for food, resources, commerce, recreation, and protection. Sea power is a critical element of the nation's future, and some 350 shipyards and facilities throughout the United States are the foundation for this future. It remains to be seen if NavSea's One Shipyard plan will be an effective and efficient means to help to sustain U.S. sea power, and the importance of the undertaking is not lost on those responsible for making it a success.
Dr. Truver is Group Vice President, National Security Programs, Anteon Corporation. John Skovran, a defense analyst in Anteon's Center for Security Strategies and Operations, assisted in the research for the article.
1. Michael Toner, executive vice president, Marine Systems, General Dynamics, interview with author, 30 January 2004. back to article
2. VAdm. Phillip Balisle, USN, Commander, U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command, interview with author, 6 January 2004. back to article
3. Gerard J. Mangone, Maritime Policy for America (Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1977), pp. 89-90. See also, H. David Bess and Martin T. Farris, U.S. Maritime Policy: History and Prospects (New York: Praeger, 1981), p. 68. back to article
4. Cynthia Brown, president, American Shipbuilding Association, interview with author, 22 January 2004. back to article
5. During the 1960s the Navy laid down 33 nuclear-powered attack and ballistic missile submarines, 2 nuclear attack carriers, 6 nuclear cruisers, 34 destroyers (four of which were intended for Iran), 15 frigates, and 14 amphibious warships. See generally, Norman Polmar, Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet, 17th ed.  (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2001). back to article
6. Adm. Vern Clark, USN, "Sea Power 21: Projecting Decisive Joint Capabilities," U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings , October 2002, pp. 32-41. back to article
7. Polmar, Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet , generally. back to article
8. "U.S. Shipbuilding and Repair: National Security Assessment of the U.S. Shipbuilding and Repair Industry," Department of Commerce, Bureau of Export Administration, 003-009-00719-4, May 2001. back to article
9. RAdm. William Klemm, USN, Deputy Commander, U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command, interview with author, 6 January 2004. back to article
10. Press account provided by NAVSEA00D, 16 January 2004. back to article
11. "Defense Industrial Base Capabilities Study: Battlespace Awareness," Department of Defense, January 2004, at pp. 37-38. back to article
12. "Report on Survey of U.S. Shipbuilding and Repair Facilities, 2002; Private Sector Facilities across the United States," Maritime Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, June 2003, pp. 1-4. Also, Brown interview. back to article
13. Thomas Schievelbein, president, Northrop Grumman Newport News, interview with author, 10 December 2003. back to article
14. Ellis B. Gardner Jr., "Problems and Prospects of the United States Shipbuilding Industry, Naval War College Review , October 1971, pp. 13-20 at pp. 13 and 17. back to article
15. RAdm. Phillip Dur, USN (Ret.), president, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, interview with author, 8 December 2003. back to article
16. RAdm. John B. Foley III, USN (Ret.), vice president, Gulfport Operations, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, interview with author, 8 December 2003. back to article
17. "Vision . . . Presence . . . Power: A Program Guide to the U.S. Navy," 2003 ed., Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, May 2003, p. 110. back to article
18. Information on the One Shipyard initiative was provided by VAdm. Balisle and RAdm. Klemm during the 6 January 2004 interviews. See also, Jason Sherman, "U.S. Navy Details ‘One Shipyard,'" Defense News , 3 November 2003, pp. 1, 8; and the NAVSEA04 Briefing, "One Shipyard: Partnering to Meet the Needs of the Fleet Customers," 9 December 2003. back to article
19. State Papers and Public Documents, vol. 1 (Boston: T. B. Wait & Sons, 1817), p. 433. back to article