The US Navy is the largest navy in the world, with greater battle fleet tonnage than the next 13 largest navies combined. With over 300,000 personnel in active service, it operates 288 ships, 71 submarines and more than 3,700 aircraft.
The Navy is in a position where it does not have enough submarines to support the stated fleet requirements. With defense budgets constrained and each new submarine costing billions of dollars, buying more is not an option.
Extending the lifespan of existing submarines is one way to solve this problem. However, getting the most from this high-value asset means finding the right balance between maintenance, modernization and operational activity – which will then make it possible to extend service life and minimize ‘down time’ without compromising performance.
To address these challenges, we used a dynamic simulation of the lifecycle of Virginia-class submarines to identify and coordinate a set of policy, design and maintenance changes that enabled a submarine to be deployed for an additional six months beyond its 33-year lifetime. If this approach is taken with the Navy’s other affected submarines, the extended deployment time removes the need to purchase an additional submarine worth at least $2 billion – at negligible cost.