Learning from Experience

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

by John F. Schank, Frank W. Lacroix, Robert Murphy, Mark V. Arena, Gordon T. Lee


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Large, complex submarine design and construction programs demand personnel with unique skills and capabilities supplemented with practical experiences in their areas of expertise. Recognizing the importance of past experiences for successful program management, the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Commonwealth of Australia asked the RAND Corporation to develop a set of lessons learned from previous submarine programs that could help inform future program managers. In this volume, the authors present an overview of five submarine programs from the three countries — the U.S. Navy's Ohio, Seawolf, and Virginia programs; the UK's Astute program; and Australia's Collins program — and identify lessons that apply to all of them. The lessons were developed through an extensive literature review and numerous interviews with government and private-sector personnel involved in the programs. Among the most important lessons: Ensure the stability of the program; establish the roles and responsibilities of the government and private-sector organizations; develop knowledgeable and experienced managers; and take a long-term, strategic view of the submarineforce and the industrial base.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Top-Level Strategic Lessons

  • Chapter Three

    Lessons When Setting Operational Requirements

  • Chapter Four

    Lessons When Establishing an Acquisition and Contracting Environment

  • Chapter Five

    Lessons When Designing and Building the Submarine

  • Chapter Six

    Lessons for Integrated Logistics Support

  • Chapter Seven

    Summarizing the Lessons

The research described in this report was prepared for the United States Navy, the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence, and Australia's Department of Defence. The research was conducted within the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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