Cover: The U.S. Aircraft Carrier Industrial Base

The U.S. Aircraft Carrier Industrial Base

Force Structure, Cost, Schedule, and Technology Issues for CVN77

by John Birkler, Michael G. Mattock, John F. Schank, Giles K. Smith, Fred Timson, James Chiesa, Bruce Woodyard, Malcolm MacKinnon, Denis Rushworth


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This report documents the methods and findings of RAND research on the adequacy of the defense industrial base to support further construction of aircraft carriers and on the cost, schedule, and technology issues associated with building the next carrier, designated CVN 77. If the current carrier force size of 12 ships is to be maintained and if a decay in the quality of basic capabilities is to be avoided, CVN 77 cannot be started more than a year or so beyond the currently planned date of 2002. The earlier CVN is started, the less it will cost. Increasing the build duration from the planned 6.5 years to 8.5 years will also reduce costs. However, timing should not greatly affect the survival of suppliers of carrier components. The report recommends beginning ship fabrication before 2002 (which could save hundreds of millions of dollars); ordering contractor-furnished equipment in advance of shipyard start (a savings of tens of millions); and investment in R&D directed toward adapting production processes and engineering improvements that could reduce the cost of carrier construction, operation and maintenance, and manning. In fact, the costs involved in building and operating carriers are so huge that the Navy should consider establishing a stable annual R&D funding level for these ships. Appendixes to the report provide supporting data.

Table of Contents

  • Preface

  • Figures

  • Tables

  • Summary

  • Acknowledgements


  • Abbreviations

    Abbreviations and Acronyms

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Aircraft Carriers and the Carrier Industrial Base

  • Chapter Three

    How Force Structure Objectives Constrain Carrier Production Schedules

  • Chapter Four

    How the Cvn 77 Start Date Affects Shipbuilder Cost

  • Chapter Five

    How Cvn 77 Construction Affects Nuclear- Component Vendors

  • Chapter Six

    Issues Related to Suppliers of Nonnuclear Components

  • Chapter Seven

    Research and Development to Save Costs on Future Carriers

  • Chapter Eight

    Conclusions and Recommendations

  • Appendix A

    Carrier Data

  • Appendix B

    Crisis-Response Data, 1950-1996

  • Appendix C

    Carrier Fleets of the World

  • Appendix D

    Components of Shipbuilder Cost Differences

  • Appendix E

    Labor Required for Various Projects at Newportnews Shipbuilding

  • Appendix F

    Large Surface-Ship Production in Great Britain

  • Appendix G

    Issues of Aircraft Carrier Production in France

  • Appendix H

    Cruise-Ship Production at Kvaerner Masa Helsinki New Shipyard

  • Chapter I

    Italian Cruise-Ship Production by Fincantieri

  • Appendix J

    Nimitz-Class Aircraft Carrier Operating and Support Costs

  • Bibliography

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

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