White House appoints Navy acquisition chief

WASHINGTON — The White House announced Friday that it has appointed Nickolas Guertin to the post of assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development, and acquisition, a post that has not had a Senate-confirmed leader since taking office. function of the Biden administration.

Guertin is currently Director of Operational Test and Evaluation for the Department of Defense and is a retired Naval Reserve Engineer Duty Officer.

The Navy has not had a Senate-confirmed leader in the position since James Geurts, who served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition from December 2017 to January 2021, when the Biden administration took office. Geurts then began serving as Undersecretary of the Navy.

Several officials have served in an acting capacity since then.

Guertin, if confirmed by the Senate, will face a number of problems. Primarily, the Navy and Marine Corps are trying to transition to a manned-unmanned hybrid fleet, which requires working with new companies specializing in artificial intelligence and autonomy, unmanned vehicles, communications and networks, etc.

Moving these systems from prototyping and experimentation to commissioning will be a major focus for services in the years to come. For his part, Guertin worked in this area when he worked for the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation, leading the service’s experimentation and prototyping efforts.

Meanwhile, the Navy is negotiating a five-year contract with HII’s General Dynamics Bath Iron Works and Ingalls Shipbuilding for up to 15 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers beginning in fiscal year 2023, intended to give the Navy time to continue development and design. of its next-generation DDG(X) program.

The Navy’s most recent long-range shipbuilding plan calls for the transition to DDG(X) in FY30, which means the Navy will need to carefully manage the transition from end of supply DDG’s multi-year plan in FY28 and the start of the Next Generation Two program. years later.

The service is also expected to sign another five-year contract with HII’s General Dynamics Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding for Block VI Virginia-class submarines in FY24. The submarine industrial base is under significant pressure as it grapples with labor and supply chain issues as well as longstanding fragility among its second and third tier suppliers, while trying to ramp up program production of Columbia-class submarines and maintain a two-one annual delivery rate on the Virginia program.

The Maritime Service is in the planning stages of its next-generation SSN(X) program, which is expected to begin construction in the mid-2030s. The service is exploring new ways to design and build the submarine that could take less pressure on the industrial base, and it is moving towards solutions such as additive manufacturing for the construction of submarines and spare parts.

Megan Eckstein is a naval warfare reporter at Defense News. She has covered military news since 2009, with a focus on US Navy and Marine Corps operations, acquisition programs and budgets. She has reported on four geographic fleets and is happiest when recording stories from a ship. Megan is an alumnus of the University of Maryland.

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