GAO sides with Navy in dispute over networked warships buy

GAO sides with Navy in dispute over networked warships buy

The General Accounting Office has upheld a Navy decision to award Northrop Grumman Corp. a $2.9 billion contract to design smart destroyers.

Last Monday, GAO denied a protest from Bath Iron Works, a unit of General Dynamics Corp.

'Based on our review of the record, and after considering all of the protestor's various challenges to the award ' we find no basis to question the Navy's determination,' GAO said.

The Navy awarded the contract in April [see story at www.gcn.com/21_13/dod/18825-1.html].

Bath Iron Works filed its protest the following month, challenging the fairness of the selection process for the DD(X) procurement [see story at www.gcn.com/21_13/dod/18824-1.html,].

In a 30-page ruling, GAO said the engineering development models in the bid that the Northrop Grumman team submitted were 'clearly superior' to those of Bath Iron Works and 'represented significant advances in technology, warfighting capability and survivability.'

The design phase for DD(X)'which is a term combining the Navy shorthand for destroyer, DD, with one for experimental, X'will include the development of integrated combat systems and automated end-user systems that sailors will use for many shipboard tasks, such as propulsion monitoring and radar steering. The Navy also wants the ships' networks to let sailors connect with systems on submarines, aircraft and satellites to collect information.

Through the DD(X) program, which is the follow-on to an earlier stalled program for a new series of smart naval warships, the Navy eventually plans to replace its Aegis destroyers. But the Navy does not yet know how many of these ships, laden with built-in IT and communications systems, it will build. The service's plans call for awarding a second contract in 2005 to build the ships.

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