There’s been plenty of discussion about the Navy’s recent approach to ship building, and the promise of capability and capacity – see Littoral Combat Ship. What can history tell us about nurturing at sea innovation? It is never easy. On June 20, 1815, the Navy’s first steam-driven warship, the Fulton I, underwent initial trials in New York. Fulton, named in honor of her designer, Robert Fulton, was intended to be a heavily-armed and stoutly built mobile fort for local defense. Put into service in 1816, she missed action in the War of 1812 and only performed a single day of active service in 1817 when she carried President James Monroe on a cruise in New York Harbor, before eventually being utilized as a floating barracks at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. You can learn more about this ship by visiting: http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/f5/fulton-i.htm and http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-f/fulton.htm .
Despite her auspicious service, “Fulton the First” demonstrates the challenge – but also the promise – of developing new ways in accelerating our Navy’s advantage. So we ask: Can ‘perfect’ be the enemy of ‘good enough’ when it comes to achieving and sustaining progress in naval warfare? Or are we relearning the lessons of our shipbuilding history in spiral development? Before you answer that, see: http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=74922 .