The National Shipbuilding Research Program (NSRP) Advanced Shipbuilding Enterprise (ASE) began formally in 1998, with a mission to manage and focus national shipbuilding research and development funding on technologies that will reduce the cost of warships to the US Navy and will establish international shipbuilding competitiveness. A key means for accomplishing this mission was to provide a collaborative forum for improving business, shipbuilding, and ship repair processes. In response to a Navy request, shipyard executives formed Articles of Collaboration, which enabled the execution of a Joint Funding Agreement (JFA) with Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA). Successes from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Maritime Technology (MARITECH) program and the National Shipbuilding Research Program (NSRP) were leveraged to initiate a framework that would enable collaboration and sharing. Leaders of the Ship Production Committee (SPC) panels of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) also joined the collaborative forum, and the NSRP ASE was formed. Through the new collaborative forum, the strategic investment plan (SIP) was created, outlining consensus priorities in six major initiative (MI) areas and setting a course toward more affordable ships.

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