The emphasis on product technology for naval ships is in keeping with the goals of most existing programs, many of which are U.S. Navy programs intended to increase the fighting ability of ships. Programs that are directed solely at military capability are not included in Figures 3-1 and 3-2, but those that could benefit both military and commercial ships, such as projects on double-hull structure and improved propulsion, are included.
The relative levels of support for business and other technology areas are difficult to characterize easily. Although business-process technologies are the most critical for the future competitiveness of U.S. firms, improvement in this area must come mostly from companies investing their own funds and energies, as was made clear in Chapter 2. Similarly, although government investment in production processes is significant, shipbuilders will need to invest many times that amount to implement newly developed production technologies. In short, government can provide leadership in technology development, but industry must play a much greater role in carrying developments through. The committee was encouraged by discussions with the leaders of several shipyards that such investments are now being made. Continued investment will be necessary, however, because the U.S. shipbuilding industry has a long way to go.