By Columbia Class Program (PMS 397)


David Goggins’ career began as a Submariner aboard USS Tecumseh (SSBN 628) where he served as the Electrical Assistant, Reactor Controls Assistant, Sonar Officer, and Assistant Operations Officer. He was then selected into the Engineering Duty Officer Community and reported to the Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair (SUPSHIP) in Groton, Conn. At this command, he was the Lead Ship Coordinator for PCU Connecticut (SSN 22) from initial hull construction to the initial stages of post-shakedown availability planning.

Subsequent shore duty tours included serving as the Assistant Repair Officer at Naval Submarine Support Facility in New London, Conn.; SeaWolf Class Project Officer and Program Manager’s Representative at SUPSHIP Groton; SSGN Conversion Project Officer and Program Manager’s Representative at SUPSHIP Groton; Virginia Class Submarine Assistant Program Manager (APM) for Post Delivery and APM for New Construction; and a staff assignment within the Office of Chief of Naval Operations, Undersea Warfare Division (N97).

How long have you been the Columbia Program Manager?

I took the job in June of 2015.
Prior to Columbia, I served as the Virginia Class Submarine Program Manager.

How does Columbia compare or differ with Ohio?

Columbia and Ohio are approximately the same size (approximately 560’ long and 43’ diameter compared to approximately 560’ and 42’ diameter) although there are eight fewer missile tubes on Columbia.

Rather than develop a new missile system, Navy assessments determined it to be more cost-effective to extend the life of the current Trident D5 missile and use the existing Strategic Weapon System design. A key benefit of life extension is that the Navy can avoid the cost and schedule risk of developing an upgraded or new weapon system at the same time it is building a new class of submarine.

Columbia will also share systems and components from Virginia class such as the ship control system, sonar, torpedo fire control, radio, universal modular masts, sanitary system, pumps, and valves. This commonality will result in significantly reduced logistics costs in addition to the savings incurred from leveraging existing technology.

The Columbia design incorporates a life-of-ship reactor that will not require the mid-life refueling performed on Ohio-class submarines, enabling the planned force of 12 Columbia SSBNs to provide the same at-sea presence as the current force of 14 Ohio SSBNs.

Columbia also integrates an electric drive propulsion train along with other mission-essential technologies to ensure the platform remains survivable through the 2080s.

What is your assessment of the Columbia-class program status?

Columbia is on track to commence long lead time material procurement for the lead ship next year, commence construction in FY21, and to deliver the first Columbia-class submarine to the Fleet in FY28 with initial deployments in FY31. To ensure we are on track, we have established a key program metric to achieve 83% design completion at construction start, and today we are right on our goal. The push for a high design maturity (>80% complete) as of construction start comes from lessons learned during the construction of previous classes of submarines to minimize design changes that result in increased costs and prolonged delivery schedules. Maintaining 83% design completion and the Integrated Enterprise Plan (IEP) are two of many factors positioning the Columbia-class submarine program to providing needed capability at an affordable price on the timeline needed to meet national strategic deterrence requirements.

What is the Integrated Enterprise Plan?

Why 12 Columbias ?
SSBN force structure is dependent on the number of submarines required to be maintained operationally ready, not the number of warheads or missiles carried by the SSBNs. The submarines must be continuously postured across large areas in two oceans. The Force is sized to keep the required number of SSBNs properly positioned, postured, and survivable at all times. A minimum of 10 operational SSBNs are required to continuously meet this requirement. A force of 12 total Columbia SSBNs ensures that at least 10 operational SSBNs are always available, even when some are offline conducting mid-life overhauls. This is the smallest number of SSBNs that will still meet presidential guidance and satisfy U.S. nuclear employment plans. Any further reductions in warheads or missiles do not result in a reduction in the number of required Columbia SSBNs.

We are challenging our industrial partners to determine the optimal build plan for the Columbia-class across three facilities—Quonset Point, Groton, and Newport News—while not interrupting the current build plan to the Virginia and Ford programs. The IEP is a comprehensive, government-informed industry initiative evaluating shipbuilder capability and capacities to ensure readiness to construct and deliver the Columbia-class in concert with the other ships. The IEP provides the overall framework of the required facility investments, manning, hiring requirements, and trade school demands, as well as the strategy to prepare the vendor base for the significant increase in workload.

What milestones have been achieved to date?

The Columbia Program completed the Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) review for Milestone B approval on November 4, 2016. An Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM) granted Milestone B approval on January 4, 2017. Milestone B is the Milestone Decision Authority (MDA) to enter into the Engineering & Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase of acquisition. In its simplest form, it is the transition from preliminary design to detailed design efforts. During the EMD phase, Columbia will complete all needed hardware and software detailed design, component development, and engineering integration efforts in addition to conducting developmental testing and evaluation to prepare for production.

On September 21, 2017, the Navy awarded the Detail Design and Construction Readiness contract to General Dynamics - Electric Boat (GDEB).

What does the Detail Design and Construction Readiness contract include?

The scope of the Detail Design and Construction Readiness contract includes completion of detail design, Missile Tube Module (MTM) prototyping, component and technology development, cost reduction efforts, and United Kingdom (UK)-unique design and manufacturing efforts for the Dreadnought-class SSBN Common Missile Compartment.

What is the next major milestone?

Our next milestone will be in 2020 with the Lead Ship Authorization DAB. At this DAB, we will gain authorization from the MDA to commence construction on Columbia.
Prior to our Lead Ship Authorization decision point in 2020, the program will verify the maturity of its design through the Critical Design Review and its readiness to commence construction through the conduct of a Production Readiness Review.

What, if anything, is already being built?

We have begun construction of the lead ship MTM first article prototype. The MTM is composed of four quad packs, with each quad pack consisting of four missile tubes and their associated hardware support equipment.

This prototype has validated our vendor base for missile tube construction and our Integrated Tube & Hull robotic construction process. Our first quad pack efforts also support the UK Dreadnought Program, which will leverage our construction processes for their missile compartment.

In addition to validating our construction techniques, early production of the MTM will provide the program much needed schedule margin to ensure we deliver Columbia on time.

What challenges lay ahead?

The biggest challenges are vendor base readiness and program affordability. For Columbia, we established a Design for Affordability program early in the acquisition process as well as the IEP discussed earlier. We have challenged each member of the team, both government and contractor, to seek opportunities to drive cost savings while maintaining requirements. This has certainly reaped its benefits as specifically cited in the Milestone B Acquisition Decision Memorandum as the total reduction from the original procurement cost estimate has been nearly 40%, approximately $50B in 2017. We aggressively pursue cost reduction opportunities, which allows for a more affordable fleet.

Another significant challenge is executability. We must execute the design products and construction process on time. Just as with cost, we are challenging our team to drive margin into the schedule because in our business, if you are on schedule, you are behind. Our team is answering that challenge by driving opportunities to create schedule margin in component development and advance construction opportunities. We are also conducting deep dives into the construction process, ensuring we can execute from a work force, facilities, and assembly standpoint.
We will deliver an on-time and affordable platform.

Where will the Columbia-class submarine be built?

GDEB in Groton is the prime contractor and is responsible for the design, construction, and delivery of the 12 Columbia-class submarines. Huntington-Ingalls Industries (HII)-Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) in Newport News, Va. will participate in the design and construction of major assemblies and modules, leveraging their experience on Virginia-class submarines. The estimated construction split is 78:22 between GDEB and HII-NNS.

Both shipbuilders will continue to deliver Virginia-class submarines with some future shift in deliveries toward HII-NNS in recognition of Columbia Program priority.

When do the first crewmembers of the Columbia report?

The first crewmembers of Columbia will report in June of 2024. The crewmembers report in six increments aligned to key construction events and crew certification for the Blue and Gold crews. All crewmembers will arrive by January 2027 for a complement of 155 personnel per crew. Initial crew certification will occur in May 2027 to support sea trials.

What about Columbia excites you the most?

I am truly most excited to be part of the team that transitions the design from paper to steel. As we begin the new phase of acquisition for the program, it is time to prepare for construction start in FY21. To make sure we deliver on time, our focus for the next three years is construction readiness regarding our design products, facilities, resources, material, and integrated schedules.