Download eBook for Free

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 1.1 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.


Purchase Print Copy

 Format Price
Add to Cart Paperback100 pages $27.00

Research Questions

  1. How do the many Navy organizations that handle common shipboard equipment address both planned and unplanned events?
  2. What organizational misalignments are complicating the life-cycle management of ships?
  3. What department-wide changes could address the problems identified and result in a proactive rather than a reactive approach to solving them?

Navy ships are a combination of different systems and pieces of equipment, ranging from hull structure to tankage to individual components of combat systems. All these common shipboard equipment (CSE) systems have maintenance, training, and supply requirements, some of which are known and some of which arise unexpectedly. Navy processes for managing these system life cycles are not efficiently organized and result in seams between ships in new construction and those already in service. The authors review and assess the life-cycle management (LCM) of CSE installed on U.S. Navy ships and recommend steps to improve the readiness of this equipment, increase its efficiency, and reduce sustainment costs. Focusing on the connection between CSE and its LCM, the authors consider the relationship between Program Executive Office Ships and Naval Sea Systems Command and how that relationship affects the installation, use, repair, and replacement of CSE. After analyzing the in-service LCM trends in sustainment and new construction of several specific classes of surface ships, the authors identify three areas in which organizational processes hinder mustering a cohesive response to effective LCM for CSE: data reporting and compatibility; funding and incentive structures; and lack of a common command perspective. The authors recommend that the Navy generate and enforce common data standards across the whole of the enterprise, move away from the Program Objective Memorandum as a centerpiece of process and decisionmaking, and install a common superior who can adjudicate the programs and proposals of multiple naval divisions and departments.

Key Findings

This report identifies three critical problems in the life-cycle management of common shipboard equipment

  • By 2014, depot maintenance accounted for nearly a third of the total operations and support cost of ships. A significant proportion of this work, which was unplanned, had to be done because the Navy had deferred maintenance of ships.
  • The Navy's "troubled system" approach is inadequate because it cannot identify the reason why a system is troubled; it does not address the failures of low-cost equipment, even though the overall cost for repairing these failures is greater than for any others; and it does not account for every equipment failure.
  • It is not possible to develop a complete picture of the systems driving maintenance costs without consulting multiple data sources, which at present are disconnected and incapable of producing a complete and accurate picture of the material state of ships in service.


Data sets and systems

The Navy needs to generate and enforce common data standards across the whole of the enterprise and to adopt a comprehensive and accessible data management system that can provide understanding of how decisions regarding one aspect of the life cycle of CSE affect some other aspect.

Incentive structures

Since many of the problems in LCM stem from an annual appropriations process for operations and maintenance, the system would benefit from a longer-term appropriation process.

Command and organizational structures

The Navy needs to designate a common superior who is charged with adjudicating among the programs and proposals of various organizations involved in building and maintaining the surface fleet.

This research was sponsored by Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships and Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and conducted within the Acquisition and Technology Policy Center of 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 research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.