Common Hull Auxiliary Multi-Mission Platform [CHAMP)
The Common Hull Auxiliary Multi-Mission Platform [CHAMP] project was first mentioned in 2018. According to the US Naval Institute News (USNI), the earliest was in March 2018. As mentioned by the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee; the US Navy revealed at the time that it was planning to replace a number of aging active-service logistics ships with a common hull platform. At the Senate Sea Power Subcommittee hearing in November 2018, the US Navy mentioned the Common Hull Auxiliary Multi-Mission Platform (CHAMP) project.
The "Sealift That the Nation Needs' defined a three-phase Sealift Recapitalization approach: Service Life Extension, Acquire Used, New Construction (Common Hull Auxiliary Multi-mission Platform “CHAMP”). In order to procure more than 2 used ships, SECNAV must certify that Navy has initiated an acquisition strategy for the construction of no fewer than 10 new sealift vessels with lead ship delivery no later than 2026. The US Navy's budget for fiscal year 2020, announced in early 2019, was included for the first time in the CHAMP project. CHAMP intended to use a common hull platform design to support different missions to replace a variety of aging logistical ships; five different active duty logistical ships, namely sealift and aircraft relay maintenance support (Aviation intermediate maintenance support), medical services, command & control, and submarine tending.
According to USNI News, during the exploration in early 2018, the US Navy's goal was to replace five different service vessels with one hull platform and propulsion system; however, the initial consultation with the private industry estimated that this would make the hull platform unachievable. Optimization of any one specific task; and in order to cover all needs, it will add a lot of unnecessary costs to the ship. Therefore, the industry suggested using two different hull platforms to cover five requirements: the first covered transportation and volume requirements, that is, marine and aviation logistic support; the second was to cover the area of ??personnel support (submarine support), Medical services, command and control). The transport configuration required equipment for rolling in and out (RO / RO) and large-capacity cargo compartments, which personnel support models did not required. The hull of the personnel support configuration can be made smaller, but required more detailed and complex personnel living and work space.
- LCC - Command and Control would provide command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence support (C4I).
- T-AK - Sealift Prepositioning would provide strategically placed military equipment and supplies aboard ships located in key areas to ensure rapid availability during war, humanitarian operation or other contingency. New construction Sealift vessels will be delivered to the Maritime Prepositioning Force (MPF) – strengthening the Fleet’s ability to support employment across the full range of military operations. Former “Prepo” Vessels Rotate to MSC Surge Fleet as CHAMP was delivered.
- T-AK - Sealift Surge would provide strategic sealift capability in support of the deployment of heavy, mechanized combat units worldwide, including hazardous, explosive, vehicular, containerized, and general cargo.
- AH - Medical Services would provide rapid, flexible, and mobile acute health services support to customers deployed ashore and afloat. Secondary mission to provide mobile surgical hospital service and acute medical care in disaster or humanitarian relief.
- AVB - Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Support to provide dedicated sea-lift for rapid movement of the aviation intermediate level support needed to sustain USMC fixed and rotary-wing aircraft. Secondary mission to provide for strategic-lift in a conventional container or Roll-On/Roll-Off (RO/RO) configuration.
- AS - Submarine Tending Intermediate Maintenance Activity (IMA) on attack submarines. Secondary mission to reload torpedo and tomahawk missiles, and provide radiological emergency response.
- Potential Future Missions - The final product could be used for other potential missions due to its flexible nature
According to the fiscal 2020 budget, the CHAMP project was designing top-level requirements (TLRs) and there would be participation from the private sector. The Request For Proposal (RFP) was to be released in the second quarter of fiscal 2019. Issued by the private industry; at the same time, reviewing Capability Development Documents (CDD) and Concepts of Operations (CONOP). According to the 30-year shipbuilding plan of the fiscal 2020 budget, the US Navy intends to build two CHAMPs. In fiscal 2025, it would budget the first ship (a shipping and aviation logistics support configuration) and deliver it in fiscal 2028. The US Navy hoped to speed up the acquisition schedule, with the goal of delivering it in fiscal 2026. Later, Adm. John Richardson, the former Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Chief of Naval Operations, also stated that he hoped to speed up the timetable and the first CHAMP could be delivered by fiscal 2023.
On 08 January 2019, the Navy's CHAMP project office released a preliminary design Request for Proposals (RFP) to industry. The response period is February 15. In May 2019, the U.S. Navy signed contracts with four civilian shipyards for the preliminary design and evaluation of the CHAMP project. These shipyards were Bollinger, General Dynamics' NASSCO, VT Halter and Philly Shipyard.
During the initial evaluation stage, the estimated price of each CHAMP was as high as $1 billion, which raised high-level concerns about whether Congress will pay the bill. In May 2019, former U.S. Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer stated that even if the cost could be significantly lowered from the price of 1 billion ships, Congress may not approve, and would demand the Navy buy used civilian ships. From the point of view of commercial operations, Richard Spencer said that if a second-hand ro-ro vessel can be purchased at a price of $35 to 40 million each, he would be reluctant to buy a new vessel for $400 million or $600 million.
In late December 2019, Inside Defense disclosed that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) of the White House responded to the Department of Defense's memorandum on budget, vetoing the Navy's CHAMP proposal on the grounds that the price was too high. OMB's memo states that instead of buying $1 billion each of CHAMP, the Navy should buy used marine vessels.
Although returned by the White House, the U.S. Navy still did not give up the development of CHAMP. In January 2020, Major Admiral Bill Galinis, Program Executive Officer for Ships, told the U.S. Naval Institute News (USNI) stated that the Navy would re-evaluate CHAMP with partners in the civilian industry, based on ready-made commercial ship types, and adopt military regulations for specific military needs (such as handling and moving heavy combat vehicles, heavy equipment, carrying weapons and ammunition, Military communications systems, etc.); and he still believes there are ways to keep costs down.
In February 2020, the US Navy announced its fiscal year 2021 budget, which applied for a USD 13.2 million budget for the CHAMP project, and continued to conduct initial research and design work, including requirements definition, early industry contact activities, and subsequent evaluation of mission functions. In 2020, the US Navy will continue to work with four shipyards, including improving design and reducing risks. The U.S. Navy hopes to carry out detailed design work for CHAMP in FY2021 and issue a detailed request for design and construction requirements for the marine version of CHAMP. The US Navy hopes to complete the CHAMP Capability Development Document (CDD) by 2020 and develop the CDD of the CHAMP by FY2021. According to the shipbuilding plan budgeted for the fiscal year 2021, the marine version of CHAMP intends to announce the detailed design and construction of the Request for Proposals (RFP) in fiscal year 2022 and the procurement in fiscal year 2023 (listed at $500 million); Progress is one year later, and a $500 million acquisition budget is set for fiscal year 2024.
“CHAMP concept leverages a new approach to requirements generation and shipbuilding to replace aging mission specific designs with a common hull to reduce life cycle costs, leverage tailored payloads, and stabilize the industrial base. Identified missions include: sealift, aviation intermediate maintenance support, medical services, command & control, and submarine tending. Funding will inform requirements definition, early industry engagement and follow-on assessment across CHAMP mission functionality,” reads the budget justification book. After conducting design maturation efforts this current year with four shipyards, in FY 2021 the Navy hopes to begin developing the detail design and construction request for proposals for the sealift variant of the CHAMP, which will move goods – in contrast to the variant that will cover the people-focused tasks such as maintaining submarines and aircraft at sea, commanding and controlling operations at sea and providing hospital care. In FY 2021 the Navy also hopes to develop the Capability Development Document (CDD) for the submarine tender variant, after the sealift variant should have its CDD approved this year. The sealift variant will remain fast-tracked compared to the sub tender variant. The first sealift CHAMP will be purchased for $500 million in FY 2023, according to the justification books, after the RFP is released in 2022. The sub tender CHAMP would remain a year behind, with the first hull being bought for $500 million in FY 2024.
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