Home » Budget Industry » Ingalls Wins LHA-8 Contract, NASSCO To Build 6 Fleet Oilers


Ingalls Wins LHA-8 Contract, NASSCO To Build 6 Fleet Oilers

An artist's rendering of the LHA-8 amphibious assault ship. Huntington Ingalls Industries image.

An artist’s rendering of the LHA-8 amphibious assault ship. Huntington Ingalls Industries image.

This post has been updated to include comment from Ingalls Shipbuilding.

The Navy awarded a contract to General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. (NASSCO) for six John Lewis-class (T-AO-205) fleet oilers and a contract to Ingalls Shipbuilding for the LHA-8 amphibious assault ship, wrapping up a year-and-a-half-long effort to preserve the shipbuilding industrial base.

The Ingalls contract will buy the LHA-8 ship, the first of the new big decks to have a well deck inserted back into the design.

The Navy is awarding $272.5 million now for the planning, advanced engineering, and procurement of long lead time material in support of the ship. Contract options, if exercised, would bring the total planning, design and construction work to more than $3.1 billion.

USS America (LHA-6) and the future Tripoli (LHA-7) are aviation-enhanced ships that sacrifice the ability to launch surface craft in favor of having more space to maintain the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter. With Marine Corps ground vehicles getting larger and heavier, in some cases precluding air lift from ship to shore, the Navy decided to add the well deck back in for LHA-8 and beyond. Ingalls is the only current builder of amphibious ships and would use that experience to balance aviation and surface connector needs in this next big-deck.

“This award adds to the successful amphibious shipbuilding legacy at Ingalls since the 1950s,” Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias said in a company statement.
“Our shipbuilders have proven this success by delivering 14 vital and capable large-deck warships to our nation’s amphibious fleet. This contract shows the Navy’s confidence in our ability to build these ships to the highest-quality standards and to do so affordably for the American taxpayers. We look forward to delivering another great ship.”

The NASSCO contract covers the first six of a planned 17 replacement fleet oilers. The Navy will spend $640 million for the lead ship this fiscal year (FY 2016) and will award the following five to NASSCO as Congress appropriates the money. The oilers will have the capacity to carry 156,000 barrels of oil and will also have significant dry cargo carrying capacity, aviation capability and will reach a speed of 20 knots.

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Secreatary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Rep John Lewis (D-Ga.) in January 2016. US Navy Photo

“We are pleased to be building the next generation of oilers and participating in the future design efforts of the LX(R), two very important ship programs for the fleet,” Fred Harris, president of General Dynamics NASSCO and Bath Iron Works, said in a company statement. “With this award, we will now proceed with engineering and design work.”

The Navy released the request for proposals for the oilers and the big-deck last July, with both companies having to bid on both ships. The Navy would award one contract to each builder, and the better combined bid would win the majority of contract design engineering man hours for the next-generation LX(R) amphibious dock landing ship replacement.

“This approach balances the Navy’s commitment to maintaining a viable shipbuilding industrial base while aggressively pursuing competition,” Navy spokeswoman Capt. Thurraya Kent told USNI News last February when the dual-contract strategy was announced.

A Naval Sea Systems Command statement notes that, if all options are exercised, “the cumulative value of the contract awards [would be] $3,156,828,444 and $3,133,852,637 to NASSCO and Ingalls, respectively.”

Many in industry believed Ingalls would end up with the LHA contract due to its experience in building amphibious ships, while NASSCO has built various Military Sealift Command-operated USNS ships in recent years, including 14 T-AKE dry cargo ships, two Expeditionary Transfer Docks (ESDs) and one Expeditionary Mobile Base (ESB).

“This strategy reinforces the Navy’s commitment to a culture of affordability that emphasizes competition while maintaining our critical shipbuilding industrial base,” Jay Stefany, executive director for Amphibious, Auxiliary, and Sealift Programs in Program Executive Office Ships, said in the statement.
“The approach provides best value to the taxpayers, supports our industry partners, and provides the foundation for future warfighting capabilities.”

  • Steve Skubinna

    17 oilers to replace the existing 15? Maybe somebody had an attack of common sense, but it’s hard to accept that in this administration. The current replenishment force is stretched too thin, if one ship has a CASREP it has a follow on effect literally halfway around the world, as ships between Guam and Djibouti have their schedules thrown into the air.

    I am saddened that the Navy has once again abandoned the fine old tradition of naming oilers for rivers. But in the highly politicized world of today it was inevitable. there are still some objects not yet named for politicians.

    • USNVO

      Yeah, they should have been named for rivers like the previous Henry J. Kaiser class!

      To be fair, the later ships were named for rivers (or previous oilers depending on how you look at it) but considering that naming conventions have never been official or really closely followed, it is what it is. Even oilers, a fairly recent invention, have been named for rivers except when they weren’t.

      Additionally, I doubt the Navy has developed common sense, it is just that the T-AOEs class are being replaced by T-AO/T-AKE tandems so it is not a 1 to 1 swap.

      • Steve Skubinna

        The Kaisers were named for industrialists, marine engineers and naval architects for the first half dozen or so and then they went back to rivers, such as Pecos, Guadalupe, and Rappahannock.

        What I object to is naming ships for politicians who have nothing to do with sea power. At least Carl Vinson was a significant figure in the pre-WWII Navy build up. And of all the Presidents, George H.W. Bush has the best claim on a carrier name, since he flew combat missions from one. Worst example is USS Giffords. Now I’m sure Gabby is a nice lady and it’s too bad she got shot, but there were no service members who lost their lives in the line of duty the past decade or so?

        Cesar Chavez is a particularly egregious insult, since Chavez said his time in the USN were the worst years of his life. At least the ship is crewed by civilian mariners, but Marines now have to deploy on a ship named for a blowhard who accused them of being war criminals. But we already have a fairly good idea what this administration thinks of service members.

        • USNVO

          So how did Leroy Grunman get on the list of ship builders? I agree with you by the way, but it has always been that way. As far back as 1800 there was a ship of the line named Franklin and it was the third ship to be so named. Although I am a great fan of old Ben, naming a ship for him as far back as 1775 seems somewhat excessive. They named a carrier after a mythical place from a speach, an Aegis cruiser after a former SECDEF, and an SSBN after a humorist. So while it seems that it has gotten worse, it is by no means unprecedented.

        • You forgot the Muther – a crooked congressman. So what if he was a marine, there are a few bad apples in the corps. Not many but a few.

  • omegatalon

    How does someone win contract when they’re the only competitor in position to build the ship.

    • @USS_Fallujah

      The “fix” was in on this long before they wrote the RFP, but by getting both builders to bid on the package they at least forced them to stay honest.

  • Curtis Conway

    Every Amphib should be back fit with a non-rotating 3D AESA radar that provides a constant 360 degree coverage. If every platform is to be a “shooter” then more ammunition is added to this argument. The 4-array TRS-4D Radar is a candidate. However, a better argument can be made for the 9-RMA AN/SPY-6(v) AMDR. An MYP of control & interface cabinets, cables, and equipment sets for specific configurations, makes a lot of sense.

    • Frank Langham

      Good …. More of these LHA/LHDs may mean that I finally get a dedicated Land/Sea/Air Drone Ops Platform … The sooner we develop mechanized maintenance procedures and traffic flow and start cross-training a consolidated technical personnel rating, the sooner we can expand our technical lead beyond the capability of our enemies and competitors (and with far more cost efficiency than taking the long route to convergence).

      • Frank Langham

        Yeah … I am still pushing an I’ll keep pushing.

        • Curtis Conway

          FRANK!!! I missed yah.

  • Frank Langham

    Good …. More of these LHA/LHDs may mean that I finally get a dedicated Land/Sea/Air Drone Ops Platform … The sooner we develop mechanized maintenance procedures and traffic flow and start cross-training a consolidated technical personnel rating, the sooner we can expand our technical lead beyond the capability of our enemies and competitors (and with far more cost efficiency than taking the long route to convergence).