The Navy plans to open a limited competition between General Dynamics NASSCO and Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding for work on the LHA-8 amphibious assault ship, the T-AO(X) fleet oiler replacement and the next generation LX(R) dock landing ship replacement – meant to introduce competition as well as more evenly distribute work in the shipbuilding industry, the service told USNI News.
Both shipbuilders will submit bids for the detail design and construction for both LHA-8 and for the first six oilers. The Navy issued a notice on the competition on FedBizOpps earlier this month.
“Each shipyard will be awarded one detail design and construction contract for LHA 8 or one DD&C for T-AO(X) ships 1-6,” Navy spokeswoman Cmdr. Thurraya Kent told USNI News on Monday.
LHA-8 will be based on the America-class amphib (LHA-6), which was designed and built without a welldeck, which allows amphibious ships to deploy landing craft. The Department of the Navy decided to include the feature in the yet unnamed LHA-8 following a weight gain of Marine Corps ground vehicles that would make them too heavy to be transported by helicopter. The change will require an extensive redesign of the ship from the original aviation intensive America hull.
Under the plan, as an incentive to keep the bids low, “the majority of the LX(R) contract design engineering man hours will be awarded to the offerer with the lowest combined LHA-8 and T-AO(X) total evaluated price,” Kent added, though detail design and construction for the LX(R) class will be competed outside of this two-yard competition. “This approach balances the Navy’s commitment to maintaining a viable shipbuilding industrial base while aggressively pursuing competition,” she said.
Last year, the Navy and the Marine Corps signed a memorandum of understanding to base the the LX(R) design on the existing San Antonio-class (LPD-17) currently being built by Ingalls.
Navy acquisition chief Sean Stackley is expected to elaborate on this decision in a House Armed Services Committee (HASC) hearing on Wednesday.
Much like Ingalls Shipbuilding and GD’s Bath Iron Works (BIW) are paired together to compete for Arleigh Burke-class destroyer (DDG-51) contracts, and HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding and GD’s Electric Boat for submarine contracts, the Navy is setting up a similar construct for amphibs and auxiliary ships that both promotes competition and ensures a viable industrial base. If one company were to win both the LHA-8 and the oiler contracts, the Navy would put at risk one of its only two contractors capable of designing and constructing ships of this size.
The contract for LHA-8 is expected to be about equal to the contract for the first six oilers, USNI News understands. The Navy intends to buy 17 oilers in total, according to its Fiscal Year 2015 long-range ship construction plan, and it will build several additional amphibious assault ships in the future to keep its fleet at 11 as older ships retire. This dual-yard competition would only cover LHA-8 and the first six oilers but could be revisited for future competitions if successful, USNI News understands.