The objective of this project was to reduce production costs of the Virginia Class Submarines (VCS) by simplifying the preparation, installation and inspection processes for pipe joining and fitting. The ideas was to replace butt-welded joints with options that require simpler weld joints and simplified inspection procedures, such as belled end fittings (BEF). Concurrently, the objective is to reduce the time and the cost required for fabrication.
Engineering rough order of magnitude cost avoidance estimates for BEFs are anticipated to be $1M per ship. Qualitative benefits include:
• Improved fleet readiness
• Reduced fleet life-cycle costs
• Reduced manufacturing injuries
• Reduced manufacturing rework required.
The project team included shipyards General Dynamics Electric Boat and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding-Newport News, VCS Program Office, NAVSEA, the Navy Metalworking Center and Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division.