Integration of three Zumwalt-class destroyers at Bath Iron Works (BIW) in Maine is taking longer than expected. Part of the problem is the sheer complexity of the Zumwalt warships, and part of the problem is that the Navy canceled the program after three ships, reverting back to production of the legacy Arleigh Burke class. But another issue, largely overlooked, may be the decision of the Naval Sea Systems Command to assume the role of prime integrator on the Zumwalt, rather than turning that job over to the shipyard. Normally, the prime contractor manages all the other contractors, but in this case the Navy chose to deal directly with the shipyard, the company building the on-board combat system, the company building the guns, and the company building the composite deckhouse. Did that approach work? Not judging from delays. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned here about how the Navy acquires the dozen ballistic missile subs in the Ohio Replacement Program. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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