The potential impact of a ship’s outfit density on the labor hours required for production, sustainment, and upgrade has been discussed within the domain of warship design for decades. For fixed ship mission, systems capabilities, crew size, specification complexity and maturity, other producibility characteristics, and work schedule, as a ship’s size varies, required production labor hours are impacted in two ways—first by a change in work content and second by a change in worker productivity with available space. Because these impacts are inversely related, there exists an optimum ship size and outfit density that minimizes required labor hours. This paper describes an analysis of optimum outfit density to minimize production labor hours for complex modern surface combatants. The key relationship between available space and worker productivity is defined based on data from multiple industries. This relationship is then used along with knowledge of surface combatant design and shipbuilding processes and production labor requirements to identify an optimum range of overall outfit density to target during ship design. This derived optimum range is validated with other related research and reference to the outfit densities of existing modern surface combatants and what is known about their ease of build. Also discussed are 1) alternative ship design and production paradigms that might allow for ships with higher outfit densities while maintaining efficient production, maintenance, and upgrade and 2) implications of the relationship between available worker space and worker productivity for shipyard planning and work execution.

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