Learning from Experience

Learning from Experience: Volume III: Lessons from the United Kingdom's Astute Submarine Program

Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 104
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  • Book Info
    Learning from Experience
    Book Description:

    This volume presents a set of lessons learned from the United Kingdom’s Astute submarine program that could help inform future program managers. Designing and building a submarine requires careful management and oversight and a delegation of roles and responsibilities that recognizes which party—the shipbuilder or the government—is best positioned to manage risks.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-7755-4
    Subjects: Technology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Figures and Table
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Summary
    (pp. ix-xviii)

    To design and construct conventional or nuclear-powered submarines, modern navies and shipbuilders need personnel and organizations that possess unique and specialized skills and expertise. These vessels are among the most complex systems that countries produce, and the technical personnel, designers, construction tradesmen, and program managers who work on them represent pools of knowledge that take years to collect and that cannot be replicated or replaced easily or quickly.

    In years past, the pace of construction of replacement submarines was quick enough in most countries that key technical and management personnel in submarine programs were able both to work on a...

  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-xx)
  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  8. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    Lessons from past experiences are an important tool for preparing managers to successfully lead future programs. This is especially true in managing complex military programs governed by various rules, regulations, procedures, and relationships not typically found in commercial projects. In the past, the frequent start of new programs afforded junior-level managers the opportunity to gain experience and prepare for more senior management roles in future programs. However, as operational lives of current naval platforms have lengthened and as defense budgets have been constrained, the gaps between the starts of new programs also have lengthened. The managers of new programs often...

  9. CHAPTER TWO History of British Submarine Programs
    (pp. 5-18)

    The United Kingdom has a long history in submarine design and production dating back to the construction of the Nordenfelt by the Barrow Ship Building Company in 1886.¹ From then through the end of World War II, the UK developed numerous classes of new diesel-powered submarines and built almost 500 submarines. Many of the classes were very small: Technical problems in one class of submarines, coupled with new technologies, would rapidly lead to a new class. During peak production at the start of World War II, an average of more than two boats per month was produced. Several shipyards supported...

  10. CHAPTER THREE Setting the Requirements
    (pp. 19-28)

    This chapter describes how the requirements were set for the new submarine program that became the Astute class. It outlines the early beginnings of the SSN20 program and how the initial requirements changed in light of the end of the Cold War and the pressures on the UK defense budget. It also shows how the new view of the role of the government in major defense system acquisition programs resulted in a complex mix of high-level performance requirements and thousands of lower-level technical specifications for the Astute program. The chapter then describes how the nuclear regulatory procedures changed and their...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR Acquisition and Contracting Strategy
    (pp. 29-38)

    This chapter provides an overview of the contracting strategy used by the MOD for the acquisition of the Astute-class submarines. It first describes how a level of discontent with the Vanguard-class contracts and a change in the role of government in weapon system acquisition led to a very different contracting environment for the Astute. It then describes how the competition and negotiations resulted in an initial contract to design the Astute, produce the first three submarines in the class, and provide several years of in-service support for the submarines. The competition and contract negotiations were so drawn out that it...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE Designing and Building the Astute
    (pp. 39-48)

    This chapter describes the design and build of the Astute. It focuses on factors and decisions that impacted the overall management of the program, not on technical decisions made during the design and build process. The chapter first looks at the various factors that led to problems at the start of the Astute design and build effort. It concludes with a discussion of the difficulties that arose during the build of the submarines and their testing and commissioning.

    The design effort for Astute began in earnest with the signing of the contract in March 1997. Earlier feasibility and trade-off studies...

  13. CHAPTER SIX Integrated Logistics Support
    (pp. 49-52)

    Up through the Vanguard class, the Royal Navy’s submarines were maintained in service at either the Faslane operating base or the dockyards in Rosyth or Plymouth. Faslane could accomplish moderate levels of submarine maintenance; the dockyards performed all refuelings and major maintenance.¹ During this time, the management and eventual ownership of the dockyards transitioned from the government to the private sector. Regardless of ownership, the various organizations involved with in-service support developed knowledge and expertise on submarine upkeep, and the MOD was a major partner in the submarine upkeep process. The shipbuilder at Barrow provided little or no in-service support....

  14. CHAPTER SEVEN Lessons Identified from the Astute Program
    (pp. 53-78)

    The various reports and documents that have attempted to understand the source of the problems faced by the Astute program list numerous “lessons.”¹ The majority of these lessons can be attributed to two key events: the end of the Cold War and the decision to reduce government spending. These events led to a substantial gap in designing and building nuclear submarines in the UK, with both the private sector and the MOD greatly underestimating the ultimate impact on program cost and schedule risk. Both parties also underestimated the impact of the MOD shifting responsibilities to a private sector that was...

  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 79-82)