DAHLGREN, Va. –
A Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) team is now under consideration for the Navy Award of Merit for Group Achievement, following a nomination in late-February for contributions to a multiyear study. The NSWCDD Future Surface Combatant team played a leading role in a major new analysis from the Department of the Navy, which will influence shipbuilding plans over the next two decades and steer billions of dollars in spending.
The Future Surface Combatant Force analysis of alternatives (AoA) was a major effort that mapped out the long-term impact of competing shipbuilding plans. “We know the Navy of 2045 is going to be composed of destroyers, cruisers and frigates as well as unmanned vessels,” explained Mission Engineering and Analysis Division Head Mark Earnesty. “What is the ideal force ratio across these different ship classes? What capabilities do we need on this type of ship if we build fewer of that type of ship? If budget trends are moving in this direction over the next decade how does that factor into long-term shipbuilding plans?” The Future Surface Combatant Force AoA, which set out to answer these questions, was sponsored by the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.
NSWCDD served as the mission and force level analysis lead for the study. According to the award nomination, the Dahlgren team helped “characterize cost versus future warfighting capabilities and then estimate, via quantitative modeling and simulation, the warfighting performance within multiple warfare mission areas.”
In addition to the technical challenges that come with such a forward-looking analysis, the study also involved a large number of stakeholders from across the Navy enterprise, the coordination of which represents a significant undertaking in its own right.
Earnesty specifically commended team lead Elizabeth “Liz” Stewart for her role on the collaborative aspect. “This pulled in a very wide group of people with different areas of expertise in cost, combat systems, mission, force, weapons, electronic warfare, undersea warfare and other areas,” Earnesty said. “Liz Stewart deserves all the credit in the world for bringing technical fluency in each of those areas and the significant people skills required to successfully manage such a broad group.”
A full accounting of the participants includes analysts and engineers from multiple technical departments across NSWCDD, as well as stakeholders at Naval Research Laboratory, Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Naval Air Warfare Center Patuxent River, a number of program offices and the intelligence community. “You essentially have the entire Navy mission represented,” noted Earnesty. “We don’t want these decisions to be made by one person in a vacuum. More people and ideas at the table are always going to produce better solutions.”
The completed study has been briefed to and endorsed by the Secretary of Defense and senior Navy leaders. Since reaching that milestone, the NSWCDD team has stayed busy answering a number of follow up questions from the enthusiastic project sponsor, as well as further refining the analysis of alternatives.