2011. The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers
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Due to budget pressure and a growing diversity of mission requirements, the US Navy is in need of affordable and operation-flexible ships. This paper presents an acquisition and total life cycle cost comparison of steel and aluminum equivalent naval ship designs. A common perception is that aluminum ships cost significantly more than steel ships. This paper illustrates that even though the cost of the equivalent aluminum ship structure is 40% more than the steel structure, the equivalent aluminum naval ship can be built within just 7.5% of the acquisition price of the steel ship. This is possible because of the cascading benefits of the aluminum ship’s significantly lighter weight. Advances in aluminum technology and new facilities in the shipyards for aluminum production are further improving the acquisition cost of aluminum ship. From a total life cycle cost perspective, aluminum ships enjoy a clear advantage over steel ships, the details of which are provided in this paper. Based on the findings presented in the paper, it is suggested that the US Navy should consider broadening its use of aluminum ships.