For shipbuilders worrying about the bottom line, what is more important: A very highly trained, committed workforce or a complete, finished design?

What do you think? Answer–from one of America’s shipbuilding legends–comes tomorrow!

Posted by Defense Springboard in Navy

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  • Byron

    A highly trained workforce does you zero good if you don’t have a finished design. There’s so many things that a completed, set in stone design has over one that is kind of finished that it isn’t funny. Design not complete and set in stone? Look for you’re highly trained workforce to have a ton of misery doing change orders mid-stream, and your completion date pushed further back.

    And it goes without saying that if you don’t keep those experienced, highly skilled tradesman in the shipyards, you can forget about building ships. Maybe the PRC will build them for you?

  • Bill Aston

    The decreasing ability to build warships in the US has been evident for a long time. Many CNOs/SECNA/SECDEF/Presidents have had toe conn and didn’t get the job done…what will it take to get some national attention on this situation?

    Portugal-Poland-UK-AUS-Nordics all appear capable of building quality ships. Is this the future ?

  • Byron

    Bill, the shipyards are capable of doing the work (at least, most of them). The big problem is screwing with the design during the build process. It’s not just stupid to do that, it’s pure madness. And the other thing is twidgets, lobbyists, and Congress-folks all trying to soak every bit of pork for the district build these fantastic ships with unrealistic designs that when finally built fail to achieve the over-inflated expectations. Get the damn design process fixed. We can build your ship.

  • Sorry. Got kinda ambushed for Valentines Day…We’ll push the answer out to ya’ll shortly…

  • Finished designs capable of series production with plug and play upgrade ability for electronic systems would be a terrific advance. We should also recognize a few additional realities:
    1. Surface ships have an enormous challenge in trying to be stealthy and capable at the same time.
    2. Ships with modern sensor systems are a means of power projection that require POWER – preferably non combustion, nearly lifetime POWER.
    3. Fission technology is not intellectual property owned by NR.
    4. People are much more capable and trainable than many fancy technologies sold as a means of personnel requirements reductions.

  • FOD Detector

    Answer: highly-trained and -motivated workforce.

    No question about it. That’s why we have the problems we have today…

  • Byron

    FOD, when was the last time you were deck-plate involved with ship construction/ conversion? What is your direct experience down on the deck plates? I’m telling you, we CAN build you the ship you want…just make sure before we start cutting material to size that this is what you want, not change things mid stream; that’s where the chaos starts. Do a bit of googling for LSD-17 and MCTs: most of them wouldn’t hold watertight, the wiring got changed so many times. Real goat rope. CDR Salamander has a copy of the first INSURV (gag) in his archives. Read it and weep.

  • FOD Detector

    Byron: The last time? There wasn’t a last time as I’m currently involved with most USN and MSC newbuildings and conversions.

    You mean LPD 17, don’t you? I’ve no idea what MCTs are.

    Some yards are better than others but, unfortunately, that’s not saying much. Sorry, but when I see a ship like LPD 17 coming out of the yard with welds looking like my dog did them–that’s not a design issue.

  • Byron

    When you see welds like that, it’s because there’s no oversight. We have NAVSEA all over the place…and we don’t even think of trying shortcuts, we just try to do the best job the most efficient way. A yard like Avondale, with little or no experience at new build Navy work? Mostly commercial experience? Huge place, little government QA? And did the Navy accept that floating turd and take it down the river? Sure did. Makes you wonder why, don’t it?

    When I worked at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard up in VA, I was there for three months and NEVER saw NAVSEA on my jobs. All QA was done in-house. We didn’t work in a vaccum…NAVSEA was offered the right to be on the deckplates to accept/reject, and a helluva lot more often than not, said carry on, which is legal. My company always works to achieve the standards, because we always work like NAVSEA is looking over our shoulder. Other companies? Like they say, your mileage may vary.

    Bottom line, why did the Navy accept both LPD-17 and LCS as is from the builder?

  • FOD Detector

    Not a design issue, Byron.

    I believe you’ve made my point. You’re saying that if there’s not a SUPSHIP QA rep looking over your shoulder, we shouldn’t be surprised the workmanship is lacking.

    Re LPD 17 and LCS, the reason the Navy accepted them is because we haven’t learned what a sunk cost is.

  • Byron

    No, FOD, what I said is the yard has to be held accountable. They have to see NAVSEA presence. Companies like mine have a written committment to deliver our customer a quality product on time. We understand the price if we screw up. Our in-house QA is brutal, and cuts no one any slack, and that’s a fact. And its not that no one gets away with anything, no one TRIES. But if you have a yard that has lower expectations, and knows that NAVSEA wont be around to check a scribe line on a pipe joint, or check the alignment on a fire pump, or look at the dye-penetrant testing, then you start to get problems.

    There has to be a reasonable expection that Daddy is going to show up and spank everyone if they misbehave 🙂

  • FOD Detector

    Byron: I hate to break it to you but all the yards make the same “written commitment” to deliver a quality product. All of them promise a “brutal” QA process. Nobody submits a prop that says they’ll do a lackluster job with substandard workmanship. But that’s what we get time after time.

    There’s quite a bit of Kabuki theater at play here. Shipyards bid jobs with no cost realism whatsoever. The Navy, knowing full well the yard’s numbers are bogus, accepts them. Then the Navy is shocked when the money is gone and the job is 40% complete and of terrible quality. The yards then submit costs to complete and rework, knowing the Navy is unlikely to abandon the project ’cause that might end some careers.

  • Byron

    FOD, we’re a repair/conversion outfit. You’re talking new construction. In that arena, I agree with you. From this craftsmans deckplate view, what I said about what we commit to and what we do is 100% truth..and I don’t get anything besides my regular paycheck for saying it.

  • FOD Detector

    Don’t get me started with repair/conversion. Look, I sympathize with the US shipyard situation; their business is highly cyclical. As such, they can’t keep skilled craftsmen and laborers on the payroll year-round. Thus, they may end up losing them or having access to them on a part-time basis only.