Home » Budget Industry » Document: GAO Report on Littoral Combat Ship and Frigate Programs


Document: GAO Report on Littoral Combat Ship and Frigate Programs

The following is the Dec. 1, 2016 Government Accountability Office report, Littoral Combat Ship and Frigate: Congress Faced with Critical Acquisition Decisions.

  • Aubrey

    That first page is a doozy….and very much correct. Any further money spent on the LCS is pure waste bordering on malfeasance.

  • NavySubNuke

    This entire “class” of ships — and I use that term loosely thanks to the Navy’s cowardly decision to keep buying two hull forms rather than selecting one thereby doubling the tail necessary to support them — is a disaster. The sooner we admit that and move on from this mistake the better off the entire Navy will be. Rather than continuing to sink money into vessels that breakdown constantly, cost to much to maintain, and provide no combat capabilities we should select a real frigate that might actually benefit the fleet.
    As it is now these ships are nothing but death traps to their crews in a real conflict. Given their small crews and their limited endurance they probably aren’t even useful in an anti-piracy role unless we use them in conjunction with an expeditionary base ship or other tender.
    The only thing worse than the billions of dollars wasted on these ships is the years of time we have wasted. Years of time used by Russia and China to rebuild their small combatant fleets with ships that actually have combat capability by the way.
    Congratulations to Ray Mabus though – he may have turned the Navy into an aging paper tiger but at least he took the word “man” out of the ratings. God knows all the woMEN in the Navy, our fellow member of the huMAN race, were really upset by that.

    • Paul 2

      Dude or Dudette.. the VA has been trying to find you. They’re concerned you missed refills.

      • Paul 2

        I take back part of my snark. Remove the gender crap… and I’m close to agreement on your other points.

      • Aubrey

        Since USNI decided my previous comment was too “mean” to be allowed (which is why my USNI status is now “expired”), let me just say:

        “You are, with all due respect to your sensitivities and perceived racial/gender/immigration biases, very wrong.”

      • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

        As counter arguments go Paul, it wasn’t great.

      • NavySubNuke

        *** Pats Paul on the head *** At a time when veterans are still dying while awaiting care from the VA – nice. Never mind the thousands of veterans struggling with mental health conditions.
        I applaud your small and petty mind!

        • Paul 2

          Yeah I felt bad after posting. I am one of those problem Vets myself, hence the post. Side note: my VA treats me very well. Get the Western Omelette at the galley, best bang for the buck ever.

    • Lazarus

      I did Somali counter piracy planning for NATO for two years. LCS would have done just fine as CP vessel. The FFG 7’s were more a destroyer than a frigate and the Navy cannot afford the 2016 version of such a ship whilst buying large numbers of DDG 51’s and other more expensive platforms.

  • Lazarus

    GAO has complained about every step of the LCS program because it does not fit their definition of Space, Weight, Power and Cooling margins (SWPaC.) LCS also manages growth through modular space and not additional weight on the sea frame. This fundamental disagreement drives much of GAO’s opposition to LCS. A conventional “frigate” replacement is likely to cost over $1b a unit, a pricetag that I doubt SASC budget hawks will want to pay for a frigate. Finally, GAO has been harshly critical of nearly every US surface combatant built since 1969, with the possible exception of the Spruance class destroyer (DD 963.) That ship had massive space/weight margins for further growth. GAO’s latest LCS complaint is just another in along line of criticisms from GAO directed at the Dept. of the Navy for nearly half a century.

    Today’s SASC hearing on LCS featured GAO’s Mr. Francis and perpetual DOT&E LCS enemy Dr. J Micheal Gilmore; both with their usual round of complaints. Secretary Stackley and VADM Rowden acquitted themselves well and conducted effective counter-battery fire on Mr. Francis and Dr. Gilmore.See the SASC website for the full hearing.

    • NavySubNuke

      As the chief LCS cheerleader I was hoping you would actually have something substantive to say rather than just cheap shots against people trying to get the Navy and congress to actually slow down and think rather than rushing in and wasting billions of dollars on another failed shipbuilding effort based on the failed LCS program.
      Seriously though – you should try actually reading the report so you can see what the GAO is actually complaining about rather than trying to avoid the issue by making it personal. Your frantic arm waving and wild screaming is entertaining but hardly constructive.

      • Curtis Conway

        Save your breath. He is beyond help. Before one can grow, one must first admit one has a problem. This man would NOT ride one into a War At Sea however, because he knows he wouldn’t come back.

        These guys are so Myopic on their little process, they have missed the point that their ship is Irrelevant. It literally is a jobs program, and a waste of tax payers dollars.

        • Lazarus

          LCS serves a mission and is affordable. I spent my whole career in small combatants (frigate and smaller,) to include MCMs’ and PC’s. LCS is an improvement over those classes and replaces the post 2003 FFG. Curtis, you are hopelessly trapped in the 1980’s and need to do some more current reading before being so critical of LCS.

          • Curtis Conway

            You put a rotating radar on a modern combatant and I’m trapped in the ’80s. Right!!! In a modern battle space with sea skimming supersonic cruise missiles, that you get one shot at, and it ingresses to your posit to make a huge hole in the water, and you gave the LCS Class the SeaRAM with a 25lb blast fragmentation warhead coming out of a single launcher, and I’m trapped in the 80’s?!?!?! You Sir, live on a Barge in the Middle of a River in Egypt.

            One must live in the real world. Your world is saving dollars and getting our crews killed if they take your platform to combat, and they won’t even know they are going to die because you didn’t test the platform realistically for fear you might break your new little speed boat. I hope you are prepared to explain this to the Creator one day when you stand before Him.

      • Lazarus

        GAO is a 1960’s era organization that needs to stick with accounting and not try to lecture the Navy on operational capability. Check out GAO’s archives; they have been critical of EVERY surface combatant since 1969.

      • Lazarus

        Look, GAO and DOT&E are wrong on LCS for the reasons I listed. Their antics in yesterday’s interview only confirm what I have said.

    • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

      Acquitted themselves well?

      Didn’t Senator McCain ask VADM Rowden why he should keep his job?

      That is hardly a vote of confidence in him or the LCS program.

      This entire program is a hot mess. And it just keeps getting worse.

  • Curtis Conway

    THIS frigate program, in its current form, needs to be terminated with Op Immediate message speed. Terminate any new construction over and above what is already contracted and paid for, then convert the yards to build National Patrol Frigates based upon the National Security Cutter design. One yard will build the ASW version and the other build the AAW version, but both will use the same Hull, Machinery, and Equipment for the most part so we can MYP the purchases for the new constructions over the next decade. We need to build 50.

    Send the LCS to Mine Countermeasures School, and some to the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command and expand their mission into SOF support missions in the Littorals.

    • PolicyWonk

      yes, Yes, and YES!

      However, the NSC has considerable room for growth, and if some thought were put into the trade-offs/balance between ASW/AAW, we could have a very useful platform that would have considerable legs, in addition to the mobility to cruise the arctic.

  • Paul

    The LCS shouldn’t be used as a basis for frigates.

    Aside from and excluding the frigate issue, like it or not the basic LCS isn’t going away no matter what limitations they have. From every report I have read on this site the LCS is grudgingly accepted in the fine print by even the most conservative plans as being necessary to the future, at least numbers wise. Assuming will be stuck with a certain number of them no matter what, we might as well make them useful for whatever we can.

    I saw a documentary about the USS Gettysburg performing anti piracy patrols and I couldn’t help but think there were better ways to utilize an Aegis cruiser… I think the Freedom variant upgraded with ESSM (to augment the SeaRAM as cruise missile self-defense) and based someplace like Djibouti could do the anti-piracy mission to free up much more valuable assets. I stipulate the Freedom variant because at least they have steel hulls rather than being completely aluminum.

    I don’t know why ESSM isn’t being considered for these ships given their admitted vulnerability. It seems like the biggest threat to any ship these days is cruise missiles, so any way to make them less vulnerable to cruise missiles should be looked at. These ships already have RAM/SeaRAM, but given their admitted vulnerability it seems that ESSM would be a responsible upgrade in addition to SeaRAM. Raytheon has a pdf online about their mk48/56 model deck or bulkhead mounted VLS for ESSM. These aren’t new, they have been used by other navies for years and they don’t require extensive modification to hulls so they should be relatively inexpensive and not take up much weight or space.

    • Lazarus

      A new frigate design will cost over $1b a ship and result in less than 20 of such units being built.

      • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

        It is also still very unclear what LCS is going to cost us. I doubt you have any idea although you will probably make something up.

        Sure, ship unit acquisition cost is understood. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Most of a programs life cycle cost is in sustainment phase. Not acquisition.

        Things like post-delivery costs to fix engine problems etc that keep popping up are not being accounted for in the up-front bill.

        And the O&S and manpower costs are a complete mystery. No one knows what this will cost to sustain and operate.

        I would not be at all surprised if these ships end up running $750 million or more per unit. It’s a boondoggle.

  • DaveLCAC

    Sadly, you are seeing the end state as many of us working in the puzzle palace at the time of LCS conception predicted. I don’t want to speak poorly of the dead but Adm. Cebrowski was the driving force behind the LCS. His arguments were honey to the ears of the bean counters that had for too long ignored the aging Reagan era build up and the bill for new gray bottoms were too high. “As president of the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., from 1998 to 2001, he argued against the expensive, heavily manned ships of the Cold War in favor of agile, smaller vessels that could far better “baby-sit the petri dish of festering problems we have around the world. At the war college, his final active-duty assignment, he helped promote the concept of the Streetfighter ship that came with an ejectable escape pod for its crew. This notion was part of his focus on building a newer generation of vessels, such as the “littoral combat ship,” which could patrol coastal waters but adapt to other circumstances. ”
    So today we see the chickens coming to roost that we should have known all along you can either have presence or you can have presence with war fighting capability. Now, 17 years later the bill is HUGE which might be the word of our new President uses but doesn’t mean Congress will go along. Now we get to fight the bigger fight, entitlements or defense.