12 September 2005

CAPT Heffron's Final Points

CAPT Heffron, the program manager for the VA-class acquisition office, just retired.  Upon his retirement, he gave an interview to the Daily Press.  Much of it concerned the business side of Navy acquisitions, if that interests you.  However, he made some great general points that I thought bore repeating.  So here they are:

Why we cannot stop building subs, and then simply start back up when the need arises:
Q:  What is Newport News' biggest performance issue?
A:  I'd say the biggest problem they've had is just the fact of their hiatus from submarine shipbuilding. Texas is the first submarine that they're delivering since the Cheyenne (completed in 1996). They've lost a lot of not only trade talent, but also management talent at the shipyards, so they've had to reconstitute both the trade base and that management base.

Thank goodness we didn’t close Groton, because EB stated they would draw down if we did:
Q: What about Electric Boat's performance? How have they done?
A: Remember that aside from construction, there was a design piece to this effort. We were very pleased with the quality of the (Electric Boat) design

The reasons we still need subs, in a nutshell:
This ship was designed with our eyes wide open that the Cold War was over…  But what's different is the capability inside the ship, operating in a littoral (coastal) environment in a stealthy way. We can deploy an entire team of Seals, all the individuals and also their supplies, you can get them off the ship quickly, they do their thing, and come back … If you want to shoot your guided missile from a surface ship or an airplane, people are going to know you're there. And unmanned aerial vehicles don't have the ability today to stay on station for months at a time. A submarine can be on station covertly for months at a time. Also UAVs aren't necessarily covert: If someone knows you're flying a UAV up there and looking for you, they can be looking for and curtail their work while the UAV is up there.

And the problem with convincing people of that:
It's a hard story to tell sometimes, because when you look at a submarine from the outside, one black tube looks like another black tube.

Thank you for the service, CAPT.  Fair Winds.


At 9/13/2005, Blogger Lubber's Line said...

My sentiments exactly as I posted here a few weeks back.


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