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Each year students in the NPS Total Ship Systems Engineering (TSSE) program pursue a group project to design an interesting new class of ships for the Navy. The July-December 2016 cohort included 10 U.S. and allied naval officers in the Systems Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Physics curricula.  Problem statement:

  • Sea control traditionally provided by capital ships is increasingly difficult as advanced sea-denial strategies reduce global maritime security.
  • Distributed Lethality (DL) has the ability to overcome these challenges by forcing adversaries to disperse their defenses into a countering position.
  • To accomplish this mission, conceptual design of an affordable surface vessel capable of offensive surface operations for sea control is needed.

Using modern naval architecture techniques together with operationally relevant design goals, the group produced the conceptual Minutemen class.

  • Concept of Operations (CONOPS) including tactically useful missions.
  • Analysis of alternatives for equipment, weapons, propulsion, fuel, water.
  • Reduced manning and maintenance requirements, austere but livable.
  • Damage Control Ethos: minimal, can take 1-2 hits then abandon ship.

  • Greater access to small ports, increased flexibility in forward logistics.
  • Under $100M production cost, potential repeatable production at scale.

The Minutemen Class Design Project slideset summarizes the findings of this capable group. This significant report shows that a cost-effective small combatant can indeed be designed and produced to fill a gap in the Navy's force structure. 

Also available: Minutemen flyer and Minutemen poster from Surface Navy Association (SNA) 2017 Symposium, plus TSSE brochure and TSSE website.



 Project Motivations, Execution, and Potential Influence

The NPS TSSE project pursued a specific small-combatant design challenge.  It found a solution space, i.e. a range of system parameters, showing that quantity production of a small single-purpose combatant is a feasible construct for U.S. construction and budgets.