Navy Ships:

Status of SSN-21 Design and Lead Ship Construction Program

NSIAD-93-34: Published: Nov 17, 1992. Publicly Released: Nov 25, 1992.


Richard Davis
(202) 512-3504


Office of Public Affairs
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Navy's Seawolf Nuclear Attack Submarine construction program, focusing on the: (1) status of the Seawolf's design; (2) status of major subsystem development efforts and their potential impact on the construction program; (3) cost, schedule, and performance status of the construction program; and (4) Seawolf's impact on the nuclear-powered attack submarine force and the U.S. submarine shipbuilding industrial base.

GAO found that: (1) the estimated costs for completing the SSN-21 design contract would increase by $352 million over the original contract cost of $303 million; (2) complexities in incorporating modular construction concepts into the SSN-21 design and the cost of two shipyards designing the submarine resulted in cost overruns and schedule delays; (3) cost growth and schedule revisions were primarily due to the late delivery of design data; (4) as of 1991, the SSN-21 design schedule had fallen behind by 500,000 hours, and only 3,970 of the 4,444 drawings had been issued due to a $75 million budget design reduction; (5) the SSN-21 design and construction schedule imbalance was eliminated due to the discovery and correction of hull and component part welding cracks; (6) welding cracks in submarine components increased the total cost by $68.6 million and delayed SSN-21 construction by 1 year; (7) the Navy cancelled two weapons systems intended for the SSN-21, rendering it less capable; and (8) the Navy cancelled planned procurements for two weapons systems for use on SSN-21 because one system failed to meet noise level specifications and the other system's high cost.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Matter for Congressional Consideration

    Matter: If Congress decides to continue with more than one SSN-21 class submarine, it may wish to consider restricting the use of funds already appropriated for the second and third submarines. Further, Congress may wish to delay funding additional submarines until the design has stabilized and planned modifications to the MK-48 advanced capability torpedo's propulsion system and the AN/BSY-2 combat system development efforts have matured.

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Contract for SSN-22 was awarded. No request for SSN-21 class submarine funding was included in the FY 93 budget or planned for FY 94 budget.

    Recommendation for Executive Action

    Recommendation: If Congress decides not to approve the administration's request to rescind funds appropriated for construction of follow-on SSN-21s, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to provide Congress an assessment of the effect that problems in the lead ship design and construction and in subsystem and weapons system development will have on the cost, schedule, and performance of the follow-on SSN-21.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The contract for SSN-22 was awarded. No funds were requested for SSN-21 class submarines in the FY 1993 budget or planned for in the FY 1994 budget.

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