ANOTHER STORY ABOUT USS NORTH DAKOTA

This story appeared in this morning’s edition of the Undersea Warfare News.

First Block III Virginia-class Submarine Delivered North Dakota (SSN 784), Delivered Ahead of Schedule and Under Budget

Chuck Oldham, Defense Media Network, Sep 16

North Dakota Bravo trials PCU North Dakota (SSN 784) during bravo sea trials. The crew performed exceptionally well on both alpha and bravo sea trials. The submarine North Dakota is the 11th ship of the Virginia class. U.S. Navy photo

General Dynamics Electric Boat delivered North Dakota (SSN 784) the first of the Block III Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarines to the U.S. Navy last month, and the boat is on track to be commissioned Oct. 25 in Groton. The North Dakota‘s original May commissioning date was postponed due to quality issues with third party vendor-assembled and delivered components. These issues were serious enough to require an unplanned dry-docking to correct. Additional design certification work was also needed on the submarine’s redesigned bow.

Despite this, North Dakota was delivered on time and more than $30 million below target cost, according to a General Dynamics Electric Boat news release. The submarine was delivered two days before contract requirement, and had completed Alpha, Bravo, and INSURV trials six days previous, according to a NAVSEA PEO Submarines release.

This redesign replaces a sonar sphere with a Large Aperture Bow (LAB) Array and earlier Virginia-class boats’ 12 individual vertical-launch missile tubes with two Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs), which will each initially carry six missiles in multiple all-up round canisters.

“North Dakota delivered ahead of schedule and under budget,” said Capt. David Goggins, Virginia Class program manager. “When one considers the scope of design changes, this represents a tremendous achievement.

“Now that certifications are complete, and we’re armed with lessons learned,we can move forward knowing that we are providing our fleet with the most capable, and battle-ready submarine possible,” said Goggins.

North Dakota is the 11th boat of the Virginia class, and is also the first of the eight-ship group of Block III Virginia-class submarines. The Block III boats reflect a Navy and industry commitment to reduce costs without decreasing capabilities through an initiative comprising a multi-year procurement strategy, improvements in construction practices and the Design For Affordability (DFA) program.

The DFA program focuses primarily on the redesign of the submarine’s bow, lowering program costs by $800 million, increasing capability and providing the capacity for additional growth at no additional cost. This redesign replaces a sonar sphere with a Large Aperture Bow (LAB) Array and earlier Virginia-class boats’ 12 individual vertical-launch missile tubes with two Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs), which will each initially carry six missiles in multiple all-up round canisters.

The new LAB Array eliminates hundreds of hull penetrations and replaces tranducers with lower cost, life-of-the-ship hydrophones. By nearly doubling the payload space available from 1,200 cubic feet with the 12 vertical launch tubes to 2,300 cubic feet, the VPTs will enable Virginia-class ships to deploy a wider variety of payloads.

Seven additional Block III submarines are under construction, while the 10 ships of the recently awarded Block IV contract will continue the two-per-year construction pace through 2018.

“The full range of Block III improvements were successfully tested during North Dakota‘s sea trials,” said Kurt Hesch, vice president and Virginia program manager, noting that the submarine received the highest quality score to date from the Navy Board of Inspection and Survey.

“This is an important accomplishment that reflects the skill and commitment of everyone involved in the Virginia-class submarine program. Maintaining this level of performance helps the Navy attain its shipbuilding goals and ensures our continuing success as a business.”

Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding have delivered 11 Virginia-class submarines to the Navy: USS Virginia (SSN 774), USS Texas (SSN 775), USS Hawaii (SSN 776), USS North Carolina (SSN 777), USS New Hampshire (SSN 778), USS New Mexico (SSN 779), USS Missouri (SSN 780), USS California (SSN 781), USS Mississippi (SSN 782) USS Minnesota (SSN 783) and North Dakota. Seven additional Block III submarines are under construction, while the 10 ships of the recently awarded Block IV contract will continue the two-per-year construction pace through 2018.

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THE INVITATIONS HAVE BEEN MAILED

I received my invitation today to the October 25th commissioning of our boat USS NORTH DAKOTA (SSN-784), and I know some of you have received yours.  It’s a great invitation and a nice souvenir even if you do NOT go to the commissioning!

There was one invitation sent per household as in most case we had both the husband and wife on one line.  IF you are going to the commissioning you MUST complete the return mail postcard.  Please mark “I” or “We” and indicate the number of tickets you will need for your family members who are attending the commissioning.  Please take notice of the RSVP NOTICE and do NOT return the postcard if you are NOT going to attend the commissioning ceremony and do NOT ask for more tickets than the number in your family who are actually planning on attending the commissioning ceremony.  I understand the tickets are not transferable.

I loved the two-sided card with a photo of our boat underway on one side and the boat’s crest on the other.

The excitement of the approaching commissioning ceremony is growing for me everyday!


OTHER BOATS AFTER NORTH DAKOTA ALSO HAD PARTS INSPECTED

This story was reprinted in today’s issue of Undersea Warfare News.

No Impact on Delivery Schedule

Lee Hudson, Inside Defense, Sep 15

Navy Must Inspect Components on Six Virginia-Class Block III Submarines

The Navy must inspect six Virginia-class submarines for questionable third-party vendor components that were discovered on the first two Block III subs, but the service does not anticipate the inspections will impact ship delivery schedules.

The service investigated 58 components aboard the North Dakota (SSN-784), which is the first Block III submarine delivered. The components included stern planes, rudder rams, retractable bow plane cylinders and numerous other miscellaneous parts, Naval Sea Systems Command spokeswoman Colleen O’Rourke wrote in a Sept. 8 email to Inside the Navy.

“To date, all necessary inboard and outboard components have been inspected and all required repairs have been completed,” she wrote.

Inspections have been completed on the North Dakota and John Warner (SSN-785), she added.

The Navy accepted delivery of the North Dakota on Aug. 29 in Groton, CT, two days before its contract delivery date. North Dakota is the first of eight Virginia-class Block III ships. About 20 percent of the sub was redesigned as part of the Virginia-class cost reduction work done to lower acquisition cost and increase operational flexibility, a Navy statement reads.

“The changes include a ship’s bow redesign, replacing 12 individual launch tubes with two large-diameter Virginia Payload Tubes, each capable of launching six Tomahawk Cruise Missiles,” the Aug. 29 statement continues.

Reducing acquisition costs for Block III Virginia-class subs is an initiative known as “2 for 4 in ’12,” aimed to reduce the cost of a single Virginia-class sub to around $2 billion in fiscal year 2005 dollars, so that the Navy could afford to buy two of them per year no later than 2012.

Virginia-class submarines each have a 33-year service life with a 72-month operating cycle, which allows each sub to be available for 14 deployments. The reduction in total ownership cost study for the Block III subs allows for a 96-month operating cycle and 15 deployments over a ship’s 33-year service life.

The Navy postponed North Dakota’s original May commissioning date because of quality issues with vendor-assembled and delivered components that required an unplanned dry-docking to correct. Additional design certification work was also required on the submarine’s redesigned bow.

“Now that certifications are complete, and we’re armed with lessons learned,” Capt. David Goggins, Virginia-class submarine program manager said in an Aug. 29 statement, “we can move forward knowing that we are providing our fleet with the most capable, and battle-ready submarine possible.

 


ADDITIONAL ARTICLES ABOUT USS NORTH DAKOTA BEING DELIVERED

Here are two more articles from this morning’s edition of Undersea Warfare News:

Navy Receives First Block III Virginia-Class Submarine

Kris Osborn, DoD Buzz, Sep 4

The Navy officially accepted delivery of the USS North Dakota on Aug. 29, signaling the arrival of a new high-tech fast attack submarine equipped with improved missile tubes, computers, electronics and sonar technology.

Christened in November, the USS North Dakota will be the first of eight Block III Virginia-class boats delivered to the Navy, submarines engineered with a series of technological upgrades and innovations compared to earlier Blocks I and II boats, Navy officials said.

Blocks I and II, totaling 10 ships, have already been delivered to the Navy. All eight Block III boats are being built under a $14 billion Navy deal with General Dynamics’ Electric Boat from December of 2008.

The Block III subs are built with new so-called Virginia Payload Tubes designed to lower costs and increase missile-firing payload possibilities, Navy officials explained.

Instead of building what most existing Virginia-class submarines have – 12 individual 21-inch in diameter vertical launch tubes able to fire Tomahawk missiles – the Block III submarines are being built with two-larger 87-inch diameter tubes able to house six Tomahawk missiles each.

While primarily done to lower costs for the boat, this technical change will allow the possibility of future missiles and off-board sensors to be launched from the tubes, Navy officials said.

“North Dakota delivered ahead of schedule and under budget,” Capt. David Goggins, Virginia Class program manager, said in a written statement. “When one considers the scope of design changes, this represents a tremendous achievement.”

All Virginia-class submarines are also engineered with a computerized fly-by-wire touchscreen control system wherein boat operators use a joystick to navigate, unlike the mechanical hydraulic controls used on prior models.

The Block III boats also have a Large Aperture Bow array which places a conformal sonar system in the bow of the boat, Navy officials said.

“The LAB array provides improved passive listening capabilities over traditional spherical arrays employed on earlier submarines,” Rear Adm. Joseph Tofalo, director of undersea warfare, said in a written statement. “The LAB array includes a medium-frequency active array. The hydrophones used to determine a bearing of either incoming passive sounds or active reflected sounds are taken directly from previous design and technology advancements.”

Navy officials said that the North Dakota successfully completed Alpha, Bravo, and Board of Inspection and Survey trials, assessments which evaluate the submarine’s seaworthiness and operational capabilities. During the trials, the crew took the submarine to test depth, conducted an emergency surfacing, and tested the submarine’s propulsion plant, service officials said.

“North Dakota and her crew delivered an outstanding performance,” Program Executive Officer for Submarines Rear Adm. David C. Johnson said in a written statement. “It was almost 10 years ago that the first ship of the class, USS Virginia delivered on Oct. 12, 2004. Since then, this program has delivered 10 ships, with North Dakota the latest. We continue to meet the Virginia Class standard of delivering submarines early, under cost, more complete and ready for tasking right out of the shipyard. North Dakota set a new benchmark for excellence in what is the arguably the best performing program in defense acquisition.”

The Navy postponed North Dakota’s original May commissioning date because of quality issues with vendor-assembled and delivered components that required an unplanned dry-docking to correct. Additional design certification work was also required on the submarine’s redesigned bow, a Navy statement said.

“Now that certifications are complete, and we’re armed with lessons learned,” said Goggins, “we can move forward knowing that we are providing our fleet with the most capable, and battle-ready submarine possible.”

http://www.dodbuzz.com/2014/09/04/navy-receives-first-block-iii-virginia-class-submarine/

 

USS North Dakota Delivered: Unequalled Predator and Industrial Benchmark

Rear Adm. Joseph Tofalo, Navy Live, Sep 3

Last Friday USS North Dakota (SSN 784) delivered to the fleet under budget and two days earlier than its contractual delivery date.

As part of the Navy’s acceptance, North Dakota was evaluated in the areas of construction and equipment operation by the Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) team. The INSURV team assessed this as the best performance to date of any of the 11 Virginia-class submarines serving in the fleet. What makes this even more significant is the superior on time, and under budget performance that was accomplished, despite a 20% redesign of this, the first boat of the Block III Virginia-class submarines. The delivery marks a culmination of over five years of work by the Virginia-class Program Office, the shipbuilders, Supervisors of Shipbuilding, and the rest of the Navy team including a crew of more than 135 sailors who are training to operate forward in defense of our nation.

Carry A Big Stick

The arrival of North Dakota is a significant milestone and will improve our existing capabilities. The two newly designed Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs), each capable of launching six missiles, replace the twelve individual missile tubes that comprised the Vertical Launch System (VLS) in previous submarines. Primarily done to reduce the cost of each submarine, moving from 12 individual cells to two larger diameter tubes has the added benefit of optimizing the equivalent space and providing additional future payload flexibility. In addition to weapons, we may also be able to leverage the efficient use of space in future submarines to deploy unmanned aerial or undersea vehicles for any variety of tasks. The flexibility gained is a significant force multiplier.

Another major, but less obvious war fighting improvement, is the shift from the traditional spherical array to a water backed Large Aperture Bow (LAB) array and advanced combat control system. The LAB array provides improved passive listening capabilities over traditional spherical arrays employed on earlier submarines. The LAB array includes a medium-frequency active array. The hydrophones used to determine a bearing of either incoming passive sounds or active reflected sounds are taken directly from previous design and technology advancements. The hydrophone advancements eliminate the need for Quality Assurance (QA) maintenance related specifically to submarine safety, and ultimately reduces costs. The redesigned bow was one of 100 design changes initiated as a part of the cost reduction strategy. The initiatives resulted in a savings of $100 million per hull. These savings, combined with improved performance, are a win by any standard.

Undersea Dominance

The superior performance by North Dakota and the entire Virginia-class team, underpins the value the submarine force plays in a variety of missions from maintaining maritime trade routes through the full spectrum of conflict. Undersea dominance relies in no small part on this team delivering the best ships ready to support national objectives the day they are delivered. We are already working on leveraging technologies from North Dakota and the Virginia-class into the design of the nation’s replacement for the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines. The Ohio Replacement is a national priority and we are recapitalizing our sea based strategic deterrent fleet with the same expertise and capabilities that delivered North Dakota.

Rear Adm. Joseph Tofalo is Director, Undersea Warfare Division. (N97)

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2014/09/03/uss-north-dakota-delivered-unequalled-predator-and-industrial-benchmark/


58 NORTH DAKOTA COMPONENTS WERE INSPECTED

This article appeared in this morning’s Undersea Warfare News.

USN Inspecting Block III Virginia-class Submarines for Defects

Grace Jean, Washington, DC – IHS Jane’s Navy International , Sep 3

Key Points

•Navy officials are inspecting components on Block III Virginia-class submarines under construction

•A total of 58 components were investigated on board Block III lead boat North Dakota (SSN 784)

Programme officials are inspecting six more Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) under construction following the discovery of materiel problems on board the lead Block III boat, US Navy (USN) acquisition command officials and industry representatives confirmed to IHS Jane’s on 27 August.

Issues found in the materiel of vendor-assembled and delivered components on North Dakota (SSN 784) – the first of eight Block III boats – caused the USN to delay the submarine’s planned May 2014 commissioning so that repairs could be completed and reviewed.

A total of 58 components, including stern planes and rudder rams, retractable bow plane cylinders, hydraulic accumulators, high-pressure air charging manifolds, torpedo tube interlocks and shaft/link assemblies, and weapons shipping and handling mechanisms were investigated on board the boat.

“To date, all necessary inboard and outboard components have been inspected and all required repairs have been completed,” said Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) spokesperson Colleen O’Rourke. “All other Block III submarines are being inspected and any issues found will be adjudicated.”

Being built under a teaming arrangement by General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) and Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding, the third batch of Virginia-class boats were partially redesigned in an effort to reduce acquisition cost. The redesigned bow includes a new Large Aperture Bow array and two 87-inch Virginia Payload Tubes that each launch six Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles.

The issues discovered on board North Dakota are understood to be partly related to the redesigned bow introduced with the Block III design.

“There were two separate issues with PCU North Dakota ,” O’Rourke said. “The first was a materiel issue dealing specifically with vendor-assembled and delivered components and was not specifically associated with the bow redesign …. The second, unrelated, issue established the need for additional design and certification work on the submarine’s redesigned bow. Upon satisfactory completion of their independent investigation, NAVSEA concluded that North Dakota ‘s Virginia Payload Tube (VPT) system was fabricated in accordance with the approved design and satisfactorily tested in support of sea trials.”

According to a NAVSEA press release, the materiel issue in North Dakota ‘s vendor-assembled and delivered components needed an unplanned dry-docking to correct. The boat was first floated on 15 September 2013, with its handover at the time planned for February 2014 ahead of a May 2014 commissioning.

Products associated with the vendor-assembled and delivered components were delivered to the shipyards based upon installation timing, Kurt Hesch, vice-president and Virginia programme manager at GDEB, told IHS Jane’s on 27 August.

“Items that were already installed in Block III ships were inspected and repaired if necessary. These ships were earlier in the construction cycle and not yet in the water, making the re-work less disruptive,” he said.

“Vendor products not yet installed are being re-evaluated in the shops at the shipbuilder or at the supplier, with shipbuilder oversight. The work is continuing based on schedule priority and replacement part availability.”

Similar issues have been identified on other Block III submarines, but not to the same extent as those on North Dakota , O’Rourke told IHS Jane’s on 26 August. “To date, inspections have been completed on North Dakota and PCU John Warner (SSN 785). Inspections on all other Block III submarines are ongoing and will be completed before delivery,” she said.

Because the investigation is continuing, the navy declined to comment on accountability measures.

IHS Jane’s asked GDEB to comment on the additional design and certification work on North Dakota ‘s bow and how it might affect the remaining Block III boats, but company officials declined to comment further.

In mid-August all eight Block III boats were under construction, with North Dakota more than 99% complete. John Warner , the second Block III boat, is more than 90% complete, according to data provided by HII.

The remaining six boats in the batch are in build, with Illinois (SSN 786) 77.3% complete; Washington (SSN 787) 63.8%; Colorado (SSN 788) 53.7%; Indiana (SSN 789) 39.4%; South Dakota (SSN 790) 27.7%; and Delaware (SSN 791) 15.7% complete. Collectively, the third batch of boats is 60.4% complete.

North Dakota – the USN’s 11th Virginia-class submarine – was handed over to the USN on 29 August, two days before its contractual delivery date of 31 August 2014. Its commissioning is scheduled for 25 October.

The boat completed its second set of initial sea trials in the Atlantic in mid-August, according to GDEB in Groton, Connecticut, where it was assembled. As well, the navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey completed combined trials on 23 August, Hesch told IHS Jane’s . In a press release announcing the boat’s delivery, GDEB stated that North Dakota “received the highest quality score to date from the Navy Board of Inspection and Survey” and was delivered “on time and more than USD30 million below target cost”.

The USN is acquiring a 30-boat Virginia class to replace its Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarines; 10 Virginia-class boats are currently operating.

USN officials and the two shipbuilders signed a block-buy contract on 28 April 2014 for 10 Block IV Virginia-class submarines. Construction on the first boat, SSN 792, began on 1 May. Production of the second boat in the batch is expected to start on 30 September.

 


NORTH DAKOTA DELIVERED $30 MILLION UNDER BUDGET

This story published in The Day was taken from this morning’s edition of the Undersea Warfare News.

EB Delivers Submarine North Dakota After Delay

Julia Bergman, The Day, Sep 3

Despite vendor issues, construction $30 million under budget

After a delay of several months because of component and design issues, the attack submarine North Dakota is now in the hands of the Navy.

On Friday, Electric Boat, which led the redesign of the submarine, delivered the Virginia-class North Dakota (SSN 784) to the Navy early and under budget by more than $30 million. The submarine received the highest-quality score to date, as measured by the Navy Board of Inspection and Survey, according to Kurt Hesch, vice president and Virginia program manager.

The submarine’s commissioning, initially set for the end of May, is now scheduled for Oct. 25 at the Naval Submarine Base in Groton. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert will serve as the keynote speaker. Once commissioned, the North Dakota will be the 11th member of the Virginia class of attack submarines.

The Navy postponed the commissioning due to issues related to vendor components and additional design and certification work required on the submarine’s redesigned bow. As a result, the North Dakota was drydocked on April 21 to allow EB to inspect parts with suspected deficiencies, including stern planes and rudder rams; retractable bow plane cylinders; hydraulic accumulators; high pressure air charging manifolds; torpedo tube interlocks and shaft/link assemblies; weapons shipping and handling mechanisms; and other parts.

The name of the vendor is being withheld due to the ongoing investigation.

Naval Sea Systems Command and EB conducted an investigation of the submarine and concluded that it “was satisfactory for at-sea operations,” according to a statement from Navy Capt. Darlene Grasdock, supervisor of shipbuilding in Groton.

The North Dakota was certified for sea trials on July 25.

“All inboard and outboard components whose failure might cause major mission impact, major injury, loss of ship or loss of life were inspected and all required repairs were completed,” reads the statement from Grasdock.

“I can tell you we did the right thing,” which was to make sure the North Dakota was prepared to go to sea, said Grasdock in a phone interview Tuesday.

This class of submarines “provides the Navy with the capabilities required to retain undersea dominance well into the 21st century,” according to a news release from EB about the delivery of the North Dakota.

The North Dakota is the first submarine to have a redesigned bow with a new sonar array and two larger payload tubes instead of 12 individual, vertical-launch missile tubes.

The submarine will be able to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles, deliver Special Forces and provide surveillance of land and sea.

The Navy buys submarines in “blocks,” and North Dakota is the first of the eight-ship group of Virginia-class submarines called Block III. Twenty percent of Block III submarines’ design was changed from Block II submarines’ design in order to save about $100 million per submarine.

“These ships embody a Navy and industry commitment to reduce costs without decreasing capabilities through an initiative comprising a multi-year procurement strategy, improvements in construction practices and the Design For Affordability (DFA) program,” the EB release says.


ANOTHER STORY ON THE DELIVERY OF PCU NORTH DAKOTA

This article was taken from today’s Undersea Warfare News.

 

PCU North Dakota (SSN 784), First Block III Virginia Class Submarine Delivered 

Team Submarine Public Affairs, Sep 2

GROTON, Conn. – The Navy accepted delivery of PCU North Dakota (SSN 784), the 11th ship of the Virginia Class, on Aug. 29, two days prior to its contract delivery date.

North Dakota is the first of eight Virginia Class Block III ships.  Approximately 20 percent of North Dakota was redesigned as part of the Virginia Cost Reduction work done to lower acquisition cost and increase operational flexibility.  The changes include a ship’s bow redesign, replacing 12 individual launch tubes with two large-diameter Virginia Payload Tubes, each capable of launching six Tomahawk Cruise Missiles.

“North Dakota delivered ahead of schedule and under budget,” said Capt. David Goggins, Virginia Class program manager. “When one considers the scope of design changes, this represents a tremendous achievement.”

Only six days ago North Dakota successfully completed Alpha, Bravo, and Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) trials, which evaluate the submarine’s seaworthiness and operational capabilities. During the trials, the crew took the submarine to test depth, conducted an emergency surfacing, and tested the submarine’s propulsion plant.

“North Dakota and her crew delivered an outstanding performance,” said Program Executive Officer for Submarines Rear Adm. David C. Johnson.  “It was almost 10 years ago that the first ship of the class, USS Virginia delivered on Oct. 12, 2004. Since then, this program has delivered 10 ships, with North Dakota the latest. We continue to meet the Virginia Class standard of delivering submarines early, under cost, more complete and ready for tasking right out of the shipyard. North Dakota set a new benchmark for excellence in what is the arguably the best performing program in defense acquisition.”

The Navy postponed North Dakota’s original May commissioning date because of quality issues with vendor-assembled and delivered components that required an unplanned dry-docking to correct. Additional design certification work was also required on the submarine’s redesigned bow.

“Now that certifications are complete, and we’re armed with lessons learned,” said Goggins, “we can move forward knowing that we are providing our fleet with the most capable, and battle-ready submarine possible.”

North Dakota will spend the next two months preparing for its Oct. 25 commissioning in Groton, Connecticut.

Virginia-class submarines are built to dominate the world’s littoral and deep waters while conducting Anti-Submarine; Anti-Surface Ship; Strike; Special Operation Forces; Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance; Irregular Warfare; and Mine Warfare missions. Their inherent stealth, endurance, firepower, and sensor suite directly enable them to support five of the six Maritime Strategy Core Capabilities – Sea Control, Power Projection, Forward Presence, Maritime Security, and Deterrence.

Team Submarine oversees the submarine force’s research, development, acquisition, maintenance and life cycle support.


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