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How the US Navy Can Fast-Track Building 500 Warships: Warrior Maven Exclusive Interview

A Warrior Maven Exclusive Interview with Industry Experts: David Forster, Chairman, Amphibious Warship Industrial Base Coalition & Rick Giannini, Chairman, Aircraft Carrier Industrial Base Coalition

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven

Hello and welcome to the Center for Military Modernization, Warrior Maven, very significant conversation today in a changing global threat environment. We are joined by two representatives of industrial base coalition's one for the amphibious warfare ship based coalition, as well as one for the aircraft carriers who have a specific expertise with construction and development of aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships.

So let's make sure to welcome Captain Dave Forster, who is actually a former Navy captain, who was manager for the integrated combat system on the USS Zumwalt the well known famous stealthy destroyer program, and a former surface warfare officer. And then Mr. Rick Giannini, who's in charge of the aircraft carrier industrial base coalition. He is also the CEO of the Milwaukee Valve Company. So both of these experts have a deep knowledge of Navy needs. And of course, the Navy's situation. Thanks for both of you. Joining us today. 

I remember years ago, members of Congress advocating for a 500 ship Navy making the point that that was the case, during the Reagan era, many have also made the point that technological superiority is more important than sheer numbers. 

I recall writing an essay once about why not both right? I mean, mass matters to quote the famous Sun Tzu hear that a lot. 

So even if there is technological superiority numbers could be quite sure thought about this. Now, what seems to be a collective sense that there has to be an uptake and 500 ships needs to be on the radar, regardless of your persuasion on that debate. 

500-Ship Navy

Captain, Dave Forster

Yeah, my thought is this. In order to achieve that 500 ship Navy, certainly you need money. That's a given. But as we discussed a bit ago, the cost per copy, drops more copies you buy, it also drops with if you buy more than quantity. 

Now we're talking multi million effect billion dollar weapons system. So it's not necessarily that we're buying dozens of eggs here. 

U.S. Navy Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group

U.S. Navy Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group

But if we can provide that stability, such that we understand that there's a build program for X Amphibs, over 10 years, 12 years, and we can provide that stability to the marketplace, then we can come down the EOQ, we can come down the efficiency curves, and we can bring the cost down and improve delivery times. 

That's inherently proven industrial basis. 

It also allows us to bring in other possibly non traditional shipyards or suppliers to try and solve that problem. So bit of it is we've been in this budget cycle for 5-6-8 years now of continuing resolutions and instability in the budgets. With what we thought was fine, it was no longer going to be bought. It's time to come to some efficiency here and some commitment directly and do this and do this right. 

Realizing we will not have a 500 ship Navy tomorrow. It will take time. 

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven

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Roger that on the carrier front?

Chairman, Richard Giannini

I would 100% agree that the industrial supply base will be able to step up, but it's going to take the stable and predictable funding. You can't build the Navy with more ships without putting more dollars in they have to be multi ship awards in order to get the benefit and to get the industrial base to be able to reinvest. 

If we know that we're going to get a block buy for two carriers or subs 10 at a time or LPDS four at a time, it allows us as manufacturers and supply base to reinvest in our business just like the yards do, and improve the technology, get to the next level of technology, bring additive machining in which might be able to lower the cost, increase the quality of the product and lighten it. 

All those things are possible when you know that things are going to be built. So that's where I would say we need to focus on.

Two U.S. Air Force B-l B Lancers assigned to the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, along with U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets, perform a flyover of the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS Nimitz (CVN 68), and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Carrier Strike Groups in the Western Pacific, Nov. 11, 2017. (James Griffin/U.S. Navy)

Two U.S. Air Force B-l B Lancers assigned to the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, along with U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets, perform a flyover of the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS Nimitz (CVN 68), and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Carrier Strike Groups in the Western Pacific, Nov. 11, 2017. (James Griffin/U.S. Navy)

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven

Well certainly in terms of the industrial base, that's incredibly significant. Because if you have block bias, then you don't lose your skilled workforce is quite wired to the same extent. And isn't that a very, very fundamental element of sustaining the industrial base capacity to continue to propel this? 

Chairman, Richard Giannini

Which we started at the same time, it absolutely is the industrial base workforce is what propels us and allows us to get these things done. It's, it's in a difficult situation now, just like the rest of the United States is with shortage of skilled workers. 

I know the Navy's working with $500 million dollars worth of grant money trying to get programs in place that will shorten the amount of time it takes from a tradesman, to instead of a typical two year process of putting them through schools now in four months and coming out, ready to work in either a CNC, which is a machinist, a welder, additive machining or quality, and we're trying to duplicate that across the country, it's gonna take time, but if we can do that, and get those people into the workforce quickly, and continually, it will help us build that 500 ship making. 

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven

Thank you so much for your time.

Kris Osborn is the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven President

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven President, Center for Military Modernization