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Learning from Experience

Learning from Experience: Volume I: Lessons from the Submarine Programs of the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia

Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 76
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  • Book Info
    Learning from Experience
    Book Description:

    The United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia asked the RAND Corporation to develop a set of lessons learned from previous submarine programs that could help inform future program managers. This volume presents an overview of five submarine programs in the three countries—the UK’s Astute program; the U.S. Navy's Ohio, Seawolf, and Virginia programs; and Australia’s Collins program—and identifies lessons that apply to all of them.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-7754-7
    Subjects: History, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Summary
    (pp. ix-xii)

    Designing and building naval submarines are complex tasks that require organizations with unique skills and expertise. Technical personnel, designers, construction tradesmen, and program managers gain knowledge and experience by working on successive programs during their careers. This will prove difficult in the future as the long operational lives of submarines and the constrained defense budgets of most countries will likely create future gaps in new submarine design and build programs.

    Recognizing the importance of past experiences for successful program management, the Program Executive Officer (PEO) for Submarines from the United States, the Director Submarines of the United Kingdom’s Defence Equipment...

  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  7. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    Lessons from past experiences are an important tool in preparing managers to successfully lead future programs. This is especially true for managing complex military programs governed by rules, regulations, procedures, and relationships not typically found in commercial projects. In the past, new programs started frequently, giving junior-level managers the opportunity to gain experience and preparing them for more senior management roles in future programs. However, because current naval platforms now have longer operational lives and defense budgets are more constrained, the time between new program starts has lengthened. Managers of new programs often do not have the benefits of experience...

  8. CHAPTER TWO Top-Level Strategic Lessons
    (pp. 9-20)

    The lessons in this chapter are appropriate for the top-level management of all submarine programs. They are applicable to the U.S. Navy, the UK Defence Equipment and Support organization, and the Australian Department of Defence. These top-level lessons go beyond a single program or a single point in time and stress the long-term view of a nation’s overall submarine enterprise.

    One overarching lesson from the various programs is the importance of program stability. It is key to a program’s success. Stability applies in many areas—consistent funding, a long-term build strategy, fixed operational requirements, stable and capable program management, and...

  9. CHAPTER THREE Lessons When Setting Operational Requirements
    (pp. 21-28)

    New submarine program managers should seek to reduce risks to the maximum extent possible. In this regard, an important aspect of a new program involves decisions made early in the program about the desired operational performance of the new submarine. These early decisions influence the degree of technology risk for the program and can influence the likelihood of a program’s success or failure. Pushing technology frontiers in too many areas will make it more risky to meet program cost and schedule goals.

    With respect to technology, the United States and the UK typically have adopted an evolutionary strategy on new...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR Lessons When Establishing an Acquisition and Contracting Environment
    (pp. 29-38)

    Establishing an open and fair acquisition and contract environment is an important aspect of any program. Poor decisions here will resonate throughout the life of the program. Issues include choosing the organizations involved in designing and building the new submarine, the type of contract, the specifics within the contract (including incentives), the decisionmaking process to employ when issues arise, and the payment schedule. The lessons often overlap but aim for a fair, interactive partnership among the program office, prime contractor, and subcontractors. Overall, the program should be a partnership between government and private-sector organizations. Both sides should work together toward...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE Lessons When Designing and Building the Submarine
    (pp. 39-44)

    Many lessons described in the previous chapters also apply to the design and construction phases of a new program. It is important to get all the appropriate organizations—operators, maintainers, and the technical community—involved throughout a program, to understand how operational requirements affect design and construction, and plan for the appropriate testing of the systems and platform to ensure requirements are met. Therefore, several lessons described below echo those described previously.

    One important lesson from the Virginia program is to use a design/build process during the design of a new submarine. This involves having the builders actively involved in...

  12. CHAPTER SIX Lessons for Integrated Logistics Support
    (pp. 45-50)

    Integrated logistics support begins more than a decade after a submarine is initially designed. But despite that time gap, ILS needs to be incorporated in all early planning for a submarine; it must inform the submarine’s design and construction and help structure the facilities, contracts, and procedures that will be required to keep the vessel operationally available.

    Typically, a submarine’s operating and support costs over the course of its service life are much greater than its initial acquisition cost. But design/build programs often unwisely focus on reducing the platform’s unit procurement cost rather than its whole-life cost. It is difficult...

  13. CHAPTER SEVEN Summarizing the Lessons
    (pp. 51-58)

    We found numerous lessons in the five programs that the three countries pursued, and in the last several chapters we attempted to identify the major ones. But identifying lessons is merely the first step. Equally, if not more important for future submarine programs in the United States, the UK, and Australia is that policymakers and program managers learn these lessons and not forget them.

    The important issue is recognizing the context in which decisions were made and the potential outcomes of those decisions. Each program was conducted in a different threat and budget environment, and some faced significant changes in...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 59-60)