missioned into the Navy, the U.K.’s Major Projects
Authority listed the initiative’s status as “amber/red,”
noting ongoing technical and scheduling challenges.
One of Australia’s largest-ever defense programs,
to build 12 submarines for at least US$26 billion, has
dragged on since 2009. Years of delay were driven in
part by political arguments over the program’s scope
and a slowed economy. There has been “at least five
years of mostly inactivity,” says Andrew Davies, PhD,
senior analyst and director of research, Australian
Strategic Policy Institute, Canberra, Australia. He
points to “a combination of lack of government focus
on the issue for years and the political stigma of
the underperforming Collins-class submarines [the
model now in use], which made it hard for any gov-
ernment to talk much about spending tens of billions
When researchers at the Parliament of Australia
analyzed the Collins program’s shortcomings, they
pointed to shifting IT requirements that created
“orphan systems” incompatible with systems pro-
duced by other manufacturers, making the procure-
ment process difficult and costly.
“A little-understood characteristic of project man-
agement is that a focus on the production and deliv-
ery phases of equipment programs misses the crucial aspects governing success,” the researchers wrote in
a government report. “Experience indicates that 90 percent of the discretionary decisions that affect the
outcome of a project are made in the first 7 to 12 percent of its life. … [B]efore the contract to develop
and build the [Collins] submarines was awarded … the future of the program was largely decided.”
That’s a lesson learned that other nations would be wise to take to heart. India’s government, for instance, is
inching toward approving plans to manufacture six nuclear and six diesel-electric subs. Once the program is
fully approved, it won’t be completed for at least seven years. —Kate Rockwood
INTO THE DEPTHS
A brief history of the evolving requirements
faced by submarine manufacturers.
1776: The first submarine to be used in
naval combat, the U.S.’s Turtle, is human-powered and can carry only one person.
1895: Inventor John Holland develops the
steam-powered Plunger, a project
sponsored by the U.S. Navy.
1904: Less-volatile diesel replaces
petroleum as the surface propulsion fuel
of choice in project plans for the French
1954: The U.S. builds the world’s first
nuclear-powered sub, the USS Nautilus.
1960: The U.S. Navy’s Trieste becomes the
first submersible to reach Challenger Deep,
the ocean’s deepest point.
2000: Photonic masts replace periscopes
with the U.S. military’s latest-generation
Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines.
Photonic masts rely on high-resolution
cameras and optical fiber data lines.
New York’s LaGuardia Airport has been called “slow,” “a
lost opportunity” and “universally decried”—and that’s
just by the governor of the U.S. state where it’s located.
Now the aging airport that serves 30 million
passengers each year is scheduled to be completely
rebuilt by 2021. “There is no way to fix this. We need
to literally tear it down and rebuild it,” Governor
Andrew Cuomo said in July at a press conference.
The US$4 billion program involves demolishing the
central terminal, a parking garage and surface lots. It
also includes constructing a new 1.3-million-square-
foot (121,000-square-meter) terminal in a different
spot on the property and adding a grand entryway
and two parking garages. Roads will be reconfigured
to improve traffic flow, and a
rail link and ferry route will be
added. Groundbreaking will
occur early this year.
consortium of companies and
the Port Authority of New
York and New Jersey—will
oversee the project.
The airport will have to
remain open during construction, meaning the new
terminal and infrastructure will have to be phased in,
according to the Port Authority. —Ben Schaefer
AN OVERDUE OVERHAUL
to build 12
“at least five
years of mostly
—Andrew Davies, PhD,
Australian Strategic Policy
Institute, Canberra, Australia