114 F.3d 1206 (Fed. Cir. 1997), 96-5088, Solar Turbines Inc v. U.S.

Docket Nº:96-5088.
Citation:114 F.3d 1206
Party Name:SOLAR TURBINES INCORPORATED, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. THE UNITED STATES, Defendant-Appelle.
Case Date:May 30, 1997
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

Page 1206

114 F.3d 1206 (Fed. Cir. 1997)



THE UNITED STATES, Defendant-Appelle.

No. 96-5088.

United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

May 30, 1997

Editorial Note:

This opinion appears in the Federal reporter in a table titled "Table of Decisions Without Reported Opinions". (See FI CTAF Rule 47.6 and FI CTAF App. V, IOP 9 regarding use of unpublished opinions)

41 Cont.Cas.Fed. (CCH) P 77,107

Before MICHEL, LOURIE, and RADER, Circuit Judges.

RADER, Circuit Judge.

The United States Court of Federal Claims, then called the United States Claims Court, denied Solar Turbines Incorporated's (Solar's) claim for an alleged breach of its cost-reimbursement contract with the United States Department of the Navy (Navy). See Solar Turbines, Inc. v. United States, 26 Cl.Ct. 1249 (1992). Solar appeals this decision. Because Solar does not show reversible error in the trial court's analysis, this court affirms.


On September 30, 1981, the Navy awarded Solar, a wholly owned subsidiary of Caterpillar, Inc., a contract for the preliminary design of a Rankine Cycle Energy Recovery (RACER) system. The Navy contemplated the use of this RACER system with its LM-2500 gas-turbine engine to enhance the fuel efficiency of its fleet. On May 7, 1982, the Navy modified the contract to include the fabrication, testing, and delivery of three RACER prototypes for an estimated cost of $34.2 million.

At the same time the Navy was considering the use of RACER systems in the fleet, it was also developing a new class of multipurpose guided missile destroyers known as the Arleigh Burke, or DDG-51, class. In response to a 1981 recommendation of the Armed Services Committee of the United States House of Representatives (HASC) to terminate the DDG-51 program, Navy officials indicated their intent to modify the design of the ship to include advanced technologies, including the RACER system. By June 1981, the Navy modified the design of the lead ship--DDG-51--to include space and weight for a RACER system. By February 1983, however, Secretary of the Navy, John F. Lehman, Jr., directed the Navy to continue RACER development but to defer plans to incorporate it on the lead ship. The Secretary's decision sprang from concerns about RACER's feasibility, reliability, and cost. The Navy then removed space and weight for a RACER system from the design of the lead ship.

Anthony R. Battista, an influential staff member of the HASC, responded critically to the Navy's design change. In March 1983, Battista told Navy officials that he would not support the DDG-51 program without some chance that RACER could be installed on the lead ship. Battista, however, indicated a willingness to accept a later decision not to install the system because of technical difficulties. On September 24, 1983, Congress authorized $24 million "for continued development of the [RACER] system to ensure compatibility of the RACER system with all ships of the DDG-51 class, including the lead ship." Solar Turbines, 26 Cl.Ct. at 1252-53 (quoting Department of Defense Authorization Act of 1984, Pub.L. No. 98-94, 97 Stat. 614, 622, 623). On October 19, 1984, Congress authorized $45 million for the same purpose, but prohibited the Navy from spending any of the money "until the Secretary of the Navy certifies to the Committee on Armed Services and on Appropriations of the Senate and House of Representatives that the lead ship in that program is capable of being equipped with a [RACER] system without rearrangement of ship spaces and equipment or other major modification to the ship." Solar Turbines, 26 Cl.Ct. at 1253 (quoting Department of Defense Authorization Act of 1985, Pub.L. No. 98-525, 98 Stat. 2492, 2501). Secretary Lehman responded that the lead ship would be capable of accepting a RACER system, and that the Navy would request an Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) from the shipbuilder.

In February 1984, concerned that the RACER project was behind schedule and over-budget, Assistant Secretary Paisley directed his staff to negotiate a contract...

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