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Supporting Future Navy Surface Acquisition Programs via Enhance Structural Design Approaches

By Lauren Claus, Dylan Temple, Matthew Collette

Structural performance shortfalls continue to bedevil naval architects working on all lifecycle phases for naval vessels. Such shortfalls range from production-phase structural distortion and miss-alignment to in-service damage, fatigue cracking, and corrosion. Resolving such issues add to the vessel’s total ownership costs. The associated downtime also reduces the vessel’s operational effectiveness. Despite these challenges, few efforts are currently studying how structural analysis tools produce design-relevant information, and how to best sequence structural decisions in terms of the wider design process. A better understanding of new approaches to structural design would benefit the Navy as it plans the design process for the next generation of surface acquisition programs, including the Future Surface Combatant. This paper discusses the concept of formulating structural design as an integral part of the overall vessel design, with tradeable performance and cost metrics. Recent developments in computational tools to aid in integrating the design of the structural sub-system into the overall vessel design are presented. A framework to allow the design team to visualize the tradespace between structural production, maintenance costs, maintenance schedule, and vessel fuel consumption is presented. Then, drawing inspiration from the Navy’s recent work on set-based design, an information-decision model is presented for structural design. This model attempts to replace point-in-time optimization with a temporal approach where the structural design space can be successively reduced as design information is generated. This approach is demonstrated on a simple example problem, and its applicability and future research challenges are discussed.