In a dynamic world of continuously evolving naval ship design along with the application of innovative new technologies, it is proving increasingly challenging to apply the traditional approach of navy-specific, prescriptive-based standards. This presentation discusses the transition from military unique to global commercial design concepts, the adoption of performance and goal based philosophies by navies around the world, and some thoughts on where design and standards may be headed in the near future.

Historically, the maturing of the industrial revolution in both Europe and America in the twentieth century facilitated the establishment of the modern industrial state. Western Society experienced an increased reliance on technology, and there was an emphasis on machines built purely for military application. This resulted in engineering specialties for warfare. With the rise of specialty sciences came the need for standardization to create consistent, quality equipment. Thus, military standards, suited only for military use, were developed. This trend, one of naval specialization, became the traditional approach to navy design and development for the next century. Some of its characteristics included design based on in-house standards (derived from extensive naval experience), prescriptive specification driven requirements, and self-regulation.

The end of the Cold War brought with it the end of lavish military budgets. Globally, navies began looking for cost-efficient ways to maintain their industrial base and their military effectiveness. After many years of evolving separately, military ship designers and builders began once again to look to commercial builders, examining the methods they use to build commercial ships.

Some initiatives included U.S. Acquisition Reform Initiatives (1992–2000), developing designs that are ‘innovation friendly’, the decision of several navies to leverage the commercial experience of classification societies (resulting in several rulesets addressing naval and defense ships), and the melding of commercial and military information technology - such as for unmanned and autonomous operations, and cyber security concepts.

There has been a continuous incorporation of new and evolving technologies to design. As the world builds naval fleets that increasingly rely on technological advances, where will this lead and how will it all be incorporated into the design process? This paper examines the impact that a number of factors might have on the global naval fleet, including autonomous operations, larger fleets comprising smaller ships together with a reduced number of ship classes, the weaponizing of big data, and how global navies will both safeguard vessels from cyber threats and employ cyber warfare.

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