Editor’s Note

Monday, March 10, 2003

I’ve been to many ship and boatbuilding facilities ... domestic and foreign; large and small; modern and antiquated. In fact, traveling to shipyards, witnessing first hand the different means incorporated to build ships and boats and meeting the people responsible, is probably the best part of my job. Naturally, I’ve seen many different types of vessels in varying degrees of build, from the largest cruise ships and LNG carriers to the smallest tugboats and water taxies.

I have never ... ever ... seen anything like Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) at Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipbuilding.

Though the favor is not mine to give, I invite anyone to step aboard a modern 1,092 ft., 90,000-ton nuclear aircraft carrier and afterward declare U.S. shipyards anything but master builders. There is no aspect of these magnificent floating cities that is short of incredible, as the the numbers, from parts (more than one billion) to tons of steel (45,000 tons, precision welded) to capacity (6,000 personnel and more firepower than many countries), is truly amazing.

Ronald Reagan is a transition ship for the U.S. Navy for sure, despite the fact that work on the new carrier design — CVNX — is just starting to role. Reagan features hundreds of technological and design enhancements which place it firmly above its eight nuclear carrier predecessors, and positions it as a platform for the technologies the Navy needs to realize it’s Network Centric vision.

Through its partnership with IBM, in the procurement of the Catia CADCAM shipbuilding program and the integration of a centralized SAP database, the company is fully able to leverage the mighty power of software solutions and modular building techniques to dramatically reduce man-hours on the front end and re-engineering during construction. While this may seem old hat for commercial shipbuilders around the world, it is indeed transformational given the fact that nuclear aircraft carriers take about 7 years to build.

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