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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 Australian government asked the RAND Corporation to develop a set of lessons learned from its Collins submarine program that could help inform future program managers. Collins was the first submarine built in Australia. RAND investigated how operational requirements were set for the Collins class; explored the acquisition, contracting, design, and build processes that the program employed; and assessed the plans and activities surrounding integrated logistics support for the class. Although Australia had intended to take an evolutionary approach in procuring the Collins class by using an existing design, no design was suitable, so the program pursued a developmental platform and a developmental combat system. This introduced a high degree of risk into the program, particularly in the combat system technology. Among the important lessons: All appropriate organizations should be involved in a new submarine program from its inception, the majority of the design drawings should be completed before construction begins, and a thorough and adequate testing program should be developed. Because designing and building a submarine is one of the most complex undertakings for a new program, they require careful management and oversight.

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.

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