Home » Budget Industry » Wisconsin Senator: Thousands of Jobs At Risk If Navy Doesn’t Buy 3 LCSs in 2018

Wisconsin Senator: Thousands of Jobs At Risk If Navy Doesn’t Buy 3 LCSs in 2018

USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) during its acceptance trials in Lake Michigan on Sept. 16, 2015. Lockheed Martin photo.

A Wisconsin senator lobbied the president to support the Littoral Combat Ship in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2018 budget request, noting the ship class’s contribution to both the Trump Administration’s push for a larger Navy fleet and its “Buy American, Hire American” policy.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) wrote to Donald Trump on May 12 to seek “the inclusion of funding for three Littoral Combat Ships in your forthcoming Fiscal Year 2018 budget request.” Three ships a year has been identified as the lowest annual total to sustain the two shipyards that build the LCS: Marinette Marine, in Baldwin’s state of Wisconsin, and Austal USA in Alabama.

During a recent House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee hearing, Program Executive Officer for LCS Rear Adm. John Neagley told lawmakers that three LCSs a year would be most efficient from an industrial base standpoint, but he would not commit to saying how many the Navy would actually buy in 2018, ahead of next week’s release of the FY 2018 budget request.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) tours the Marinette Marine yard in Wisconsin in August 2014. Photo courtesy Sen. Baldwin.

At risk, Baldwin writes in her letter, are thousands of American manufacturing jobs.

“Including fewer than three LCS in your FY18 budget request would result in layoffs of highly-skilled manufacturing workers in the Midwest beginning next summer,” according to the letter.
“In Wisconsin, only two LCS in FY18 would result in approximately 450 direct shipyard worker layoffs, or 20 percent of the workforce at the yard, and a total of 1,200 jobs lost across the state. Only one LCS in FY18 could result in up to 800 layoffs at the shipyard, or 36 percent of the workforce, and a total of 1,850 jobs lost across the state.”

Baldwin goes on to note that the two shipyards are likely to compete for the frigate design and construction contract expected in FY 2021. Acting Navy Secretary Sean Stackley acknowledged that, while the competition is full and open to any competitor, having a hot production line could create a cost advantage for Marinette Marine and Austal. Baldwin’s letter notes that cuts to LCS now would hurt the yards’ ability to compete for that future work.

“Layoffs of this magnitude would have dire impacts on the ability of the Marinette shipyard and supply chain to compete for the Navy’s Frigate, which will soon follow the LCS,” she writes.
“That would result in reduced competition in the Frigate acquisition, driving up costs to the taxpayer, and harm to our national security by undercutting the strength of our domestic industrial base. Indeed, Secretary of the Navy Sean Stackley has testified about the importance of preserving industrial base jobs, noting that a failure to do so will ultimately harm the American taxpayer in the form of increased cost and decreased quality.”

USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) during its acceptance trials in Lake Michigan on Sept. 16, 2015. Lockheed Martin photo.

Overall, Baldwin notes, the LCS program supports 2,200 jobs at Marinette, another 4,700 jobs in Wisconsin throughout the supply chain, and a total of 12,000 jobs in 42 states.

The Navy has been consistent in not getting ahead of its FY 2018 budget request and has repeatedly declined to comment on how many LCSs it would buy ahead of the frigate transition, and what the timing of that transition would look like. During the HASC hearing on LCS, director of surface warfare Rear Adm. Ron Boxall said to lawmakers and to reporters afterwards that all their questions would be answered in the FY 2018 request, set to be released on May 22.

  • muzzleloader

    Political hacks like this woman are exactly why we are where we are with this LCS debacle. “Size of the fleet” means zilch if the ships making up the fleet are worthless pieces of $#it.
    A democrat woman senator who wouldn’t know an anchor from a radar wants to sell her next election peddling fear.
    Buy American? Ugh, politicians make me ill.

    • Mentok The Mindtaker

      The Dems despise the military unless it means tax dollars that they can spend.

    • Fred Gould

      Remember the other variant is built in Mississippi. Also a jobs program.

  • BS, the LCS is and still is a POS. It can’t even survive combat and it’s one HUGE GAS HOG. It’s basically the F-35 of the seas. If were going to keep the POS LCS, they it should be small enough numbers to replace the PC and MCM fleet. After that, go look to Europe for a Viable Frigate design and have it built in a US Shipyard such as the FREMM Frigate, Incheon class Batch 2 or the Type 26 frigate.

    • Horn

      FREMM would be too expensive. The Incheon is too small and slow for a desired USN frigate. The Type 26 is too far out to be a good choice. I agree with you that the LCS will probably take up the PC and MCM roles of the fleet once they get enough new frigates made, but that’s at least a decade out.

      • The FREMM is one option, the Spanish F-100 frigate is another or we can take the USCG’s NSC cutter design and Upgun it to Frigate standards.

    • sferrin

      “It’s basically the F-35 of the seas.”

      Obviously you’re an F-22 pilot. In COD.

      • Obviously your an LCS fanboy

        • sferrin

          I think the LCS is a dumb idea. Thanks for playin’ though.

      • I think you’ve been out in the sun way too much.

        • sferrin

          That’s what happens when you don’t live in momma’s basement playing COD all day.

          • That’s what happens when you drink too much Kool-aid

  • sferrin

    So friggin’ what? LCS isn’t JOBS program!

    • Jay

      A huge portion of the DoD budget is indeed a jobs program.

      • sferrin

        Only if you consider defense of the nation unnecessary.

        • Jay

          No, only if you don’t think like a conservative which equates to zero nuance. DoD is the only federal agency that can’t pass an audit. Huge waste. It would be more cost effective to give colllege scholarships to terrorists than trying to kill them all. You can easily lose wars in Afghanistan and Iraq for less money. 100 million + $ for cruise missiles and a MOAB which had zero impact on military situations in either country. 16 million for the MOAB that killed, allegedly, 94 “bad guys”? Even you can do that math and maybe come to the logical conclusion that the American Way of War is now a looser — and a huge waste of money.

          • NavySubNuke

            ** Pats Jay on the head ** I must say, it really is cute when you trolls try to pretend like you understand what is going on. That fact that you are completely disconnected from reality, have no understanding of human nature, and don’t even begin to understand deterrence really is impressive.
            I especially like your insinuation that if we just give them a college education everything would be fine. We might as well just let them eat cake and world peace would break out right?
            And who cares if we allow chemical weapons use to become normalized even after the President of the United States specifically said that using chemical weapons would cross a red line and require a response —- that is just a jobs program right?
            You should probably just stick to making racist comments about the Filipino’s — you are actually less likely to embarrass yourself that way.

  • Ed L

    they can build sub systems for the Huntington Ingalls Frigate program

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    A pin-prick of job losses across a relatively prosperous state would be a good trade-off for stopping production of this useless vessel.

    • Lazarus

      Several thousand jobs in a part of WI that is otherwise not doing well economically is hardly a “pin prick.” Same goes for the greater Mobile, AL area served by Austal.

  • MLepay

    Sounds like she is doing her job and working for her constituents to me. Easy to call corporate welfare if you are not affected, if the yard was in your neck of the woods and your job was on the line you might feel different. Yes the LCS is not a great design, and the program has not yielded the hoped for results but if the yards lay off we lose the experience and that takes time to ramp up again when a new design is available and ready.

  • Lazarus

    While perhaps not surprising in terms of jobs for her state, Senator Baldwin’s letter I included all of the Navy’s reasoning behind LCS as well as a plea for her state’s job base.

    In any case, LCS remains the right choice in small surface combatant.

    • PolicyWonk

      The minor problem with the last statement, is that the former CNO (Adm. Greenert) declared that the littoral combat ship was “never intended to venture into the littorals to engage in combat”.

      Which makes it the wrong choice for any kind of combatant.

      • Lazarus

        How many times do I have to explain that you are fixating on one, discarded LCS CONOPS from the early 2000’s. LCS was originally intended to charge into the littorals and actively hunt whatever survived the initial “net fires” onslaught that was expected to crush all resistance. The experience of the Iraq war, and the changing naval threat of the mid 2000’s instead suggested that the littorals could be very dangerous to a lone unit with only self defense weapons for missile attack. The LCS CONOPS was shifted to one of sea base defense rather than active littoral attack. That first CONOPS was never really proven and had more in common with WW2 littoral ops than any 21st century scenario.

        And as to the name, “littoral” (from the latin “litus” which means shore,) NWC professor Milan Vego suggests an expansive definition to include much of closed “seas” like the Mediterranean, the Baltic, the Black Sea and others, as well as most of the world archipelagic zones. A fairly significant portion of the global waterspace.

        • PolicyWonk

          How many times do I have to explain that you are fixating on one, discarded LCS CONOPS from the early 2000’s.
          Well, I’d agree that it was discarded by the LCS program office. But the concept that they developed in light of what everyone else decided to build since has also been discarded, because everyone else went with the same one developed by ONR.

          And here we are, almost 2 decades since, still without a littoral platform.

          • Lazarus

            How is LCS not a littoral platform? LCS 4 just proved that the class was such in March when it managed to lose 3 pursuing PLAN frigates by sailing into waters too shallow for the PLAN ships to follow.

          • James B.

            What is the wartime application of being able to “lose” missile-armed warships in shallow water? They aren’t closing to broadside with carronades and launch boarders; in real war they’d fire missiles and we’d see how effective the LCS’s SeaRAM/prayer air defense suite works.

          • Lazarus

            You asked about littoral operations. I said that LCS’s draft enabled such. By the way, SeaRAM is a proven system that arms a number of US warships. Not sure why you would want to disparage it.

          • James B.

            I and others have repeatedly explained how the LCS is too lightly armed to be an independent operator in a war zone. You keep countering with narrowly applicable minutia that ignores the bigger picture and the more likely scenarios.

            As for my “disparaging” of the SeaRAM; it is designed as a secondary or tertiary line of defense. If it meets or exceeds all performance specifications, a SeaRAM mount will still run out of ammunition pretty quickly. So we’re back to the LCS being too light to ever operate alone.

            The realistic role, tied closely with a heavier and slower CSG, invalidates much of the LCS design, including all the expensive parts.

  • Ctrot

    I’d prefer the Navy pay those workers to just hang out all day getting paid to play video games rather than continuing to build a “warship” that’s not fit for a war. Then as soon as possible put them to work building a real frigate.

  • RobM1981

    Because, sure, that’s what the Navy is for: a jobs program.

    Defense is a distant second, evidently… if that.

  • How about the lives of the sailors who have to sail into harms way on those little crappy ships.

  • KC135TopBoom

    Let’s face it, the LCS cannot do all the jobs it needs to do and it is far from reliable. Let’s go ahead and jump fully into the FFG program and get some real fighting ships for the Navy.

    • Secundius

      Not happening, US.Hse.of Rep. placed a Two Year Freeze on Frigate Production, until 2020 or 2021…

  • Secundius

    As I recall, the ~$1.164-Trillion USD to keep the Federal Government Open Provision Budget, Has a Funding for Current US Naval Shipbuilding. Unless Wisconsin is “Gripping” about a Different Appropriations Budget…

  • vincedc

    Just pay the workers and don’t build the ship, or better yet find a foreign Navy that is willing to buy it.

  • Charles Pierce

    And the Navy is stuck with 3 pieces of junk costing $1.5B.