Home » Budget Industry » Industrial Base Pushes To Start LX(R) Construction In 2018, 2 Years Early


Industrial Base Pushes To Start LX(R) Construction In 2018, 2 Years Early

USS Arlington (LPD-24) under construction at Ingalls Shipbuilding. Huntington Ingalls Industries Photo

USS Arlington (LPD-24) under construction at Ingalls Shipbuilding. Huntington Ingalls Industries Photo

The industrial base that supports the amphibious transport dock (LPD) construction hopes Congress will help accelerate the follow-on LX(R) dock landing ship replacement program by two years, an idea first floated in the House Armed Services Committee last year.

As it stands now, the Navy intends to buy its first LX(R) in 2020 and then procure one a year beginning in 2022. Based on the timing of LPD-28, the final ship in the class, the industrial base believes Fiscal Year 2018 is the best time to begin the new LX(R) program, rather than waiting two more years. Through its advocacy group, the Amphibious Warship Industrial Base Coalition, the suppliers wrote to Congress to ask for continued support in the FY 2017 budget to make this happen.

“As the House Armed Services Committee noted in its report accompanying the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2016, ‘[T]he optimum construction start for the LX(R) class of vessels is in fiscal year 2018 rather than the current Navy program of record of fiscal year 2020,’” according to the Feb. 4 letter AWIBC wrote to Congress.
“Accelerating and optimizing the start of LX(R) construction to 2018 will minimize the production gap between LPD 28 and the first LX(R) and strengthen the amphibious warship industrial base by leveraging the many advantages offered by a hot production line and supply chain. These advantages include acquisition and life cycle cost savings through production learning; batchbuying of material; mitigation of nonrecurring costs; and reuse of logistics support, training, maintenance, and outfitting products.”

The Navy’s FY 2017 budget request will be released Feb. 9 and will reveal more about the service’s plans for the LX(R) program. Last year, during FY 2016 budget negotiations, the House and Senate armed services committees added in money the Navy did not request to support an earlier start to the LX(R) program.

During a Feb. 4 AWIBC congressional forum in the Russell Senate Office Building, coalition chairman and Rolls Royce Vice President of Naval Marine Programs Brian Schires said that “we have spent millions of dollars training our employees, our craftsmen, our metallurgists, to do what they do today, and we have spent millions of dollars on our facilities to be able to perform and deliver as they are today. And if we have to shut down those facilities for a short period of time while we’re waiting for LX(R) to come online, it’s going to drive up cost, it’s going to interfere with quality and it’s going to delay the delivery.”

AWIBC is administered by public relations firm Powell Tate on behalf of Huntington Ingalls Industries.

An unspoken assumption in the drive for accelerated LX(R) funding is that the same industrial base currently working on the San Antonio-class LPDs– more than 2,000 companies total, Schires said– would move over to the LX(R) program. HII builds the LPDs at its Ingalls Shipbuilding yard in Pascagoula, Miss. The company, however, is not guaranteed the LX(R) contract – it will have to compete for the construction contract for the new ship program.

The Navy is finalizing its big-picture design efforts now – going through the LPD design, taking out features not necessary for the LX(R) mission, adding in new features where needed – and will hold a competition for contract design this spring, program officials have said. Only after that more detailed design is complete would the Navy host a competition for the ship construction, which is currently scheduled for FY 2020. It is unclear if that timeline could be bumped up if more funding were available for the program.

  • sferrin

    Whoa. We can’t listen to the evil MIC. Screw the industrial base. /sarcasm.

  • Dullasapig

    The United States must stop deindustrialization

  • Michael Nunez

    Good Topic , Very Good Idea .

  • PolicyWonk

    Oddly, the acceleration of the LX(R) program seems to make sense.

    Now if only the navy would smarten up, and immediately start planning of an arsenal-ship (missile carrying) variant as well.

    • sferrin

      No thanks. Arsenal ships are a bad idea. The last thing you want to do is stick all your eggs in one basket where one kill takes out half your inventory of a type of missile, and you can only have it in one spot at a time. The Ohio SSGNs are good but even they take up less than 200 rounds a boat.

      • NavySubNuke

        Reports say the Navy is set to request ~$2B in order to buy 4,000 TLAMS —- yes 4,000 — over the course of the FYDP with the FY17 budget request. If that is actually true even an arsenal ship wouldn’t make a dent in the Navy’s TLAM inventory.
        Especially if you also fill the arsenal ship with additional SM-6s, SM-3, and maybe even a few IRBMs/CPS missiles.

      • @USS_Fallujah

        Don’t need to put “all” your eggs in this basket, for about $1.5B you can add 200+ VLS cells to your theater BMD magazine, plus releasing some DDGs from ARG escort duty (an LPD-17 hull is going to have a tough time keeping up with a CVN) and providing much needed LACM/ASCM magazine space. This would also have the growth margin to supply cooling & power generation for AMDR & EMRG/LaWS when they mature.

    • NavySubNuke

      Wouldn’t this hull form be a bit of an overkill for an arsenal ship? Given all the space devoted to marines/marine support you are probably going to end up with a lot of spare room. I guess you could just make those missile magazines and then add in a crane so the ship could self reload at sea but there is a limit to how many magazines you want to stuff your ship with.

      • @USS_Fallujah

        The arsenal ship wouldn’t be just a VLS farm, they’d put a full size AMDR on it, and that’s going to require a lot more cooling capacity so the large building margin will be very helpful in keeping costs down. The only major detractor to the LPD Arsenal Ship is the relatively slow cruising speed, she’d have a very tough time keeping up with a CBG, but would provide theater commanders with much needed magazine space for LACM & BMD. 1 Arsenal ship could carry as many VLS cells as 3 Burkes, likely for about 2/3 the cost of one Flight III DDG-51.

        • Secundius

          @NotRizzo.

          FORGET IT! Six BMD/Arsenal Ship’s w/288 VLS’s and a Single 6.1-inch (155mm/70-caliber) AGS were Planned. ALL SIX were cancelled by the 2013 Sequester…

          • @USS_Fallujah

            Define “planned” and “Cancelled” because to my memory the arsenal ship idea has never moved beyond a HII powerpoint, unfortunately.

          • Secundius

            @ NotRizzo.

            Three Ships GOT FUNDED, “THEN GOT CANCELLED”!

          • @USS_Fallujah

            When was this, there is no program of record for a Arsenal Ship.

          • Secundius

            @NotRizzo.

            One was in RT News, dated 16 March 2013 and the other was Aviation Week – ARES, dated 11 April 2014…

          • @USS_Fallujah

            USN never planned and Congress never funded a Arsenal Ship.

          • Secundius

            @NotRizzo.

            Actually Think for a Second, Why would the RT Make This Up, If It Didn’t BENEFIT THEM in the Long-Run…

          • @USS_Fallujah

            What ARE you talking about? Did the Congress ever appropriate funds for a class of ships that fit a fair definition of an Arsenal Ship. I don’t know what RT is referring to, but there never has been a plan, design or funding for an arsenal ship beyond a HI powerpoint presentation and 1/32 model to show off at conventions.

          • Secundius

            @ USS. Fallujah.

            Excuse ME, Ballistic Missile Defense SHIP, aka Arsenal Ship, aka Bombardment Ship…

          • @USS_Fallujah

            Call it what you like, but congress has never authorized funds for this, nor the Navy design one. As I said, its just a concept, pushed by HII, and just includes a list of potential assets and a model to show off at trade shows.

  • John B. Morgen

    The :LX(R) ship design may [not] be the prudent path to follow; instead, I suggest a more suitable design by building a much larger but modified Ticonderoga (CG-47) class..

    • Michael Rich

      Those ships provide two very different missions.

      • John B. Morgen

        On the other hand, the Navy does not really need a new LX(R) warship, but a modified San Antonio-class (LPD); thereby production of the existing class will [not] be stopped but be extended by making the required drawing changes. In sum, a sub-class of the San Antonio-class would be the result, without having any down-time in production.

  • disqus_zommBwspv9

    The production line is hot. keep it that way. If they don’t, how many skilled workers do they lose if the production line goes cold

  • Arthur Vallejo

    As long as The People’s Republic of China, North Korea and the Russian Federation continue to threaten the United States and her allies, and; with the imminent creation of a military space service. How can there be a forseeable decrease in defense spending that is responsible? Please keep in mind that I am a staunch Democrat.