Navy Ship Propulsion:

Viability of New Engine Program in Question

NSIAD-96-107: Published: Jun 7, 1996. Publicly Released: Jun 7, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Navy's intercooled recuperated (ICR) engine program, focusing on the: (1) Navy's need for the engine; (2) cost, schedule, and performance of the program; and (3) impact of the Navy's test and development strategies.

GAO found that: (1) some Navy officials are questioning the economic viability of the ICR engine program and have raised concerns over placing ICR engines on naval destroyers, since most destroyers are equipped with reliable propulsion systems; (2) engine development costs pose a significant economic investment; (3) some officials believe the engine should not be used on naval destroyers given the small number of new U.S. destroyers involved, adequacy of current destroyer engines, high cost of incorporating the engine, uncertainty of future integration plans, and current state of ICR development; (4) the Navy has not recovered from initial recuperator failure that resulted from design, manufacturing, and quality assurance problems; (5) a contractor is instituting a recovery plan to redesign future recuperators, but the plan is not allowing sufficient time to evaluate test data prior to ordering production ICR engines; (6) the Navy has interrupted work on redesigning future recuperators because of funding reductions, contractor quality control problems, manufacturing problems, and delivery delays; and (7) the Navy needs to decide how and when it will use the Philadelphia ICR test facility and if it will test the ICR engine at sea.

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

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: If it is determined that the ICR engine program should continue, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to prepare a facility use plan for the U.S. test site.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Congress has added $17.7 million to the fiscal year 2000 Navy budget request to complete essential portions of the ICR gas turbine test program. Once this is accomplished, the development program will be transitioned to the United Kingdom and France for management of the qualification program. The United States will remained engaged to ensure that qualification testing complies with U.S. navy requirements.

    Recommendation: If it is determined that the ICR engine program should continue, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to determine total program costs for developing and acquiring the engine relative to the Navy's requirements for future surface combatant ships, including costs for U.S. test facilities and/or pilot ship engine testing.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Using a congressional plus-up of $17.7 million, the Navy completed essential portions of the ICR gas turbine test program and transferred the development program to the United Kingdom and France.

    Recommendation: If it is determined that the ICR engine program should continue, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to not use the engine in the DDG-51 destroyer.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: While DOD did not concur with this recommendation, the Navy decided in early 1997 to not use the ICR engine in the DDG-51 as GAO recommended.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should reassess the Navy's continuing need for the new ICR engine. In doing so, the Secretary should carefully consider how current agreements with U.S. allies affect the program, identify what effect the Navy's ongoing efforts to restructure and rebaseline the ICR program will have, and determine what the Navy's surface combatant ship future requirements actually are.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Using a congressional plus-up of $17.7 million, the Navy completed the essential portions of the ICR gas turbine test program and transferred the development program to the United Kingdom and France.

    Recommendation: If it is determined that the ICR engine program should continue, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to prepare a test plan and schedule for the engine that provide sufficient assurance that it can transition from development to production and be realistically available for use in any U.S. ship.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Congress has added $17.7 million to the fiscal year 2000 Navy budget to complete essential portions of the ICR gas turbine engine test program. Once this is completed, the development program will be transitioned to the United Kingdom and France for management of the qualification program. The United States will monitor the program to ensure that qualification testing complies with U.S. requirements.

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