Know Your ‘Reformers’: Episode 1 in potentially a long series
IntroductionI’ve been toying for quite some time with the idea of maybe taking on a book project: a book about the modern era of so-called “Military Reformers” and the also so-called ‘Military Reform Movement’. My interests in their activities reaches back to at least the late 70’s. As a byproduct of examining the output of the leading/most prolific ‘reformers’ in detail over the years I’ve managed to consume a great many of their screeds. I have also acquired a fairly significant selection of their writings not available by other means (such as the internet). Nearly all of the ‘reformer’ material I have acquired over the years has been either library remainder (free) or (mostly) purchased second-hand. The fine point here is this: as my research progressed and knowledge of the ‘Reformers’ increased, it became increasingly important to me to NOT subsidize their ‘work’ in any way, shape, or form.
Another Generation. Same Old Song and Dance.In my ‘inbox’ earlier in the week was a link to an interesting piece posted at the Defense Professionals (DefPro) website (Although the publication of same calls the ‘Professionals’ part seriously into question). It is a classic example of the kind of thinking (or lack thereof) that goes into a typical POGO rant, but in this case, it offers the kind of transparency to POGO’s philosophy and modus operandi that I don’t think I’ve seen since Dina Rasor’s early effluences, back when she was cranking up POGO’s prior incarnation: the ‘Project on Military Procurement’.
|Ben Freeman. |
(A patriotic guy. Just ask him )
|LCS 1 (Left) and LCS 2 (USN Photo)|
Navy Defends $120 Billion LCS Program, POGO Publishes Rebuttal
1) make claims where is not important whether or not they are ‘valid’, only that they cannot be ignored by legislators or administrators without risking escalation and appearance of indifference/malpractice.
2) Legislators/administrators move to at least pretend to examine the claims to avoid further complaint.
3) POGO then markets their activities as a ‘success’. “POGO gets results!” (as in the claim to have caused ‘a stir’)
Note: Expect mention of this ‘success’ in future POGO fundraising briefings/pleas to preserve and expand their donor base.]
[Obviously Freeman is still trying to set up the right POGO vibe here. ‘Touch a nerve’? Will we perhaps see in a short while why a rapid response from the Navy should be considered so ‘remarkable’ or when viewed in context will it be actually ‘unremarkable’?]
[Again, setting up the idea that the ‘Navy’ (yes, apparently ALL of it) was ‘unsettled’, by the machinations of the (apparently) ‘mighty’ POGO? If the previous comments serve any purpose other than casting the Navy in a less than flattering pose, it is not exactly clear what they are here for, or otherwise why they would have been included in this POGO piece at all.]
One point the Navy protests is our statement that LCS ships will make up as much as half of the Navy’s surface fleet. The Navy cites a report to Congress that says the LCS will account for 22 percent of the “21st Century Battle Force.”
We can admit when we’re wrong. But in this case the “22 percent” the Navy cites is not accurate, either. The planned 55 LCS ships will account for 38 percent of the Navy’s surface combatant ships.
[So. POGO takes issue with the Navy’s ship count numbers. Is it because POGO has a better list of ships, more authoritative definitions of what constitutes a ‘surface fleet’ or ‘battle force’, or a better grasp of naval force plans than the Navy itself? Why is this example of what is really ‘communication at cross purposes’ included in this piece at all? I think we are again left with the perception of some deceptive, and IMHO rather pissy, ‘battlefield prep’ on the part of POGO’s Freeman.]
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the Navy’s response and our rebuttal:
“Senior Navy officials have publicly praised the LCS program. However, the Navy has been reluctant to share documents related to LCS vulnerabilities with entities such as the Pentagon’s Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E).”
POGO’s ‘rebuttal’ ? Freeman chooses to ignore the statement concerning ongoing DOT&E participation with the cognizant LCS Test &Evaluation IPT, then Freeman carps about the low number of reports acknowledged to have been shared by the Navy. Does POGO/Freeman really feel entitled to a comprehensive list of communications between the Navy and DOT&E based upon a ‘letter’ they wrote, or are they just keeping on the offensive as the best form of defense? (The latter could be described as a typical ‘reformer’ move BTW: think Boyd’s OODA Loop)
|LCS 1 USS Freedom replenishment with LHD 6 USS Bonhomme Richard (USN Photo)|
– “… (LCS-1, the first LCS ship) has been plagued by flawed designs and failed equipment since being commissioned, has at least 17 known cracks.”
– “Specifically, the new guidance states that in rough water (sea state 7; 19.5- to 29.5-foot waves) with following seas, the ship cannot travel at speeds greater than 20 knots, and cannot travel into head seas at any speed. Even in calmer seas (sea state 5; 8.2- to 13.1-foot waves) the ship’s peak speed into head seas is capped at 15 knots, relegating the Navy’s “cheetah of the seas” to freighter speeds.”
• The Navy’s Response:
1) Is the discovery of the need to make structural tweaks a normal part of wringing out a new ship?
2) Is the scope and impact of the cracking to date typical, lower or higher than might be reasonably expected?
3) Does the Navy (or ship builders in general) employ a methodical strategy for identifying, tracking and fixing structural issues/problems?
4) If they do not, why isn’t POGO raising a holy stink over the absence of same?
But we don’t need to get too deep into the topic of what the norms are because of the Navy response: Ummm. We fixed all those problems.
“From the time the Navy accepted LCS-1 from Lockheed Martin on September 18, 2008, until the ship went into dry dock in the summer of 2011 — not even 1,000 days later — there were 640 chargeable equipment failures on the ship. On average then, something on the ship failed on two out of every three days.”
• The Navy’s Response:
As with any ship, all equipment failures on LCS 1, regardless of how minor the impact to mission, have been meticulously tracked, and this data has been invaluable in improving the reliability of ship systems. The 640 chargeable equipment failures from Ship Delivery until the summer dry docking, tracked in the LCS 1 Data Collection, Analysis, and Corrective Action System (DCACAS) represent all equipment failures to the ship for all systems (propulsion, combat systems, auxiliaries, habitability, C4I, etc) regardless of whether the equipment was repaired by the crew or off ship maintenance personnel.
The 640 failures referenced include multiple failures on a piece of equipment (38 for the Main Propulsion Diesel Engine) and single failures to equipment (one Man Overboard Indicator). From the DCACAS report dated 31 Aug 2011, approximately 12 percent of the equipment failures since delivery can be attributed to the Ship Service Diesel Generators (SSDGs). In May 2010 the Navy and Lockheed Martin instituted a Product Improvement Program for the SSDG. The resulting effort increased Mean Time Between Failures (MBTF) for the equipment from less than 150 hours (October 2008) to over 500 hours (April 2011).
This is a case of how the DCACAS data is used to improve the reliability of the ships early in the acquisition program. Overall the DCACAS data is a mechanism to evaluate every failure on the ship to determine if it can be attributed to infant mortality of the equipment, normal wear and tear for that equipment/component, or is a trend that needs to be addressed via design changes or reliability growth efforts.
• Our Rebuttal:
The Navy does not dispute the 640 failures, which had not been previously reported. The Navy mentions that the DCACAS data is used to determine if failure can be attributed to infant mortality, normal wear and tear, or is a trend. Their file confirms that nearly a third of these failures were potential or confirmed trends, which, according to the Navy should “be addressed via design changes or reliability growth efforts.” This is precisely our rationale for questioning this ship’s design.
|LCS 2 Under Construction (GD/Austal Photo)|
Throughout its deployment, LCS 1 safely operated and conducted its mission. Few of the 80 equipment failures cited above were mission critical. The ship did experience a brief loss of power, however, it should be noted that many commercial and U.S. Navy vessels have periods of power loss due to plant set-up and operator control. In the event of power loss, there are specific U.S. Navy procedures documented in the Engineering Operational Sequencing System (EOSS) to quickly restore power throughout the ship. To address concerns documented with electric power generation, the LCS Program executed Electric Plant Reliability Improvement Programs on both ship designs to increase reliability of ship service diesel generators and the performance and management of the shipboard electrical systems. This has resulted in changes that have been implemented through post-delivery availabilities on LCS 1 and LCS 2 as well as captured for LCS 3 and follow ships. Additionally, sensors were installed to monitor performance trends.
In other words, the Navy admits there were mission critical failures, including a brief loss of power, on this LCS-1 mission. This stands in stark contrast to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus telling Congress that this mission was a success and the ship “demonstrated some of the things we can expect.” Unless we are to expect rampant equipment failures, it appears that the Navy was misleading Congress about these issues.
[POGO says: Problems BAD! USN says: Problems Typical and Unremarkable. POGO says: Navy BAD for not reporting Typical and Unremarkable problems.
This reads more like POGO trying to manufacture the appearance of a cover up than anything else.]
– Operate as part of a networked battle force
– Conduct independent operations only in low to medium threat scenarios
– Operate as part of a networked battle force operation in high threat environments
– Create Battle Space/Avoid being hit
– Rely on networked battle force for threat attrition
– Rely on overboard systems
– Fight and survive if hit
– Ship design: Accept ship mission kill; keep ship afloat and protect crew after hit
– Battle force design: Maintain battle force fight-through capability through LCS numbers and mission flexibility
– Withdraw/reposition if hit
LCS is designed to maintain essential mobility after a hit, allowing the ship to exit the battle area under its own power. The LCS systems allow ship’s crew to navigate and communicate while repositioning after a hit all the while utilizing numbers (of LCSs), and CONOPS as force multipliers. LCS incorporates survivability systems to perform required missions in the littoral with an emphasis on crew survival.
• The Navy’s Response:
The Navy does not dispute these previously unreported engine failures. They only discuss the results of an engine failure that occurred in 2010, which we do not mention in our letter.
The Navy reports that shaft seals on the other engines of LCS-1 and those on LCS-3 were not at risk of this same failure. However, prior to this incident, the Navy was not aware the shaft seal that blew was at risk of failing either. [This is an incredibly stupid paragraph, isn’t it? What’s the difference between before and after? Hint: the Navy looked for the problem elsewhere after it occurred once. The Navy must understand the failure for them to state there is no risk for the same failure after looking at the rest of the seals.]
In short, the Navy has not taken any corrective action in response to this issue.
“The DOT&E’s FY 2011 Annual Report states that “[t]he program offices have not released any formal developmental T&E reports.” The report goes on to state that “the Navy should continue to report vulnerabilities discovered during live fire tests and analyses. Doing so will inform acquisition decisions as soon as possible in the procurement of the LCS class.”
• Our Rebuttal:
It is not unreasonable to ask the Navy to provide testing and evaluation reports for a ship that is scheduled to be deployed to Singapore and has already been deployed in the Caribbean. If the ship is performing as well as the Navy claims they should be eager to provide these reports.
POGO BELIEVES it is not unreasonable to ask the Navy to provide testing and evaluation reports for a ship that is scheduled to be deployed to Singapore and has already been deployed in the Caribbean. POGO BELIEVES if the ship is performing as well as the Navy claims they should be eager to provide these reports.
There, all better. ]
WHAT OUR LETTER SAID:
The LCS programs however, took measures to instrument and collect data on the hull designs, execute design reviews/design updates and implement those findings into the follow-on awards. In addition, those findings have led to upgrades and changes on LCS 1 and LCS 2 to ensure that these research and development hulls are viable assets.
LCS 1 has traveled more than 65,000 nautical miles since it was delivered to the Navy in September 2008 and continues to meet our expectations.
• Our Rebuttal:
POGO agrees that what the Navy says is true: that all first of class ships will have problems. However, POGO believes the extent and nature of the problems on this littoral combat ship are far more problematic than on other ships. POGO believes Faulty welds, design, and ship construction are the root cause of many of this ship’s problems and are representative of failings in the program, design, and construction (that POGO believes should be seen as cause to kill this program? Notice the undeclared intent – we can only guess). POGO believes these are not first of class issues; POGO believes they are basic ship-building issues that appear to POGO to have been largely ignored on this shipThere. All better again]
|LCS 2. USS Independence (USN Photo)|