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For the first time since the design of the first nuclear submarine, the U.S. Navy has no nuclear submarine design program under way, which raises the possibility that design capability could be lost. Such a loss could result in higher costs and delays when the next submarine design is undertaken, as well as risks to system performance and safety. The authors estimate and compare the costs and delays of letting design capability erode vs. those of alternative means of managing the workload and workforce over the gap in design demand and beyond. The authors recommend that the Navy consider stretching out the design of the next submarine class and starting it early, or, if that seems too risky, sustaining design resources at the shipyards, their vendors, and in the Navy itself that exceed those supported by the demand.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    The Submarine Design Process

  • Chapter Three

    Framing the Analysis

  • Chapter Four

    Effect of Different Options for Managing Design Resources

  • Chapter Five

    Critical Skills

  • Chapter Six


  • Chapter Seven

    The Navy’s Roles and Responsibilities in Submarine Design

  • Chapter Eight

    Effect of a Design Gap on the Navy’s Technical Community

  • Chapter Nine

    Conclusions and Recommendations

  • Appendix A

    Workforce Simulation Model

  • Appendix B

    Survey Instrument for Electric Boat and Northrop Grumman Newport News

  • Appendix C

    Survey Instrument Provided to Vendors

  • Appendix D

    U.S. Navy’s Technical Warrant Holders

  • Appendix E

    Net Present Value Analysis

The research described in this report was prepared for the United States Navy. The research was conducted in 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 Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

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