Trump Admin Pays for 2nd 2018 Littoral Combat Ship By Delaying Reactor Core for Carrier Overhaul, Other Cuts

June 30, 2017 3:51 PM - Updated: July 5, 2017 1:12 PM
Littoral Combat Ships USS Freedom (LCS-1) and USS Coronado (LCS-4) sit at the pier at Naval Station San Diego on Feb. 17, 2016. USNI News photo.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated where a nuclear reactor the Trump administration delayed to free up funds for a second Littoral Combat Ship would be used. The reactor will be installed as part of a yet to be determined carrier overhaul, not on USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74).

The Trump administration is pushing back the purchase of a reactor core for a future carrier overhaul carrier, savings on amphibious ship modernization and deferring a radar for a destroyer upgrade to pay about $500 million for second Littoral Combat Ship hull in the second budget.

A series of budget amendments, sent to Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), on Thursday shuffled money from the $325 million reactor core, $40 million from the amphibious program and $10 million for a SPQ-9B X-band radar that had been earmarked for a Arleigh Burke along with other savings to put the money into the Navy’s shipbuilding accounts for the second hull.
The Office and Management Budget had a goal to keep the Navy’s FY 2018 budget to the same $180 billion topline submitted in late May.

A Navy official told USNI News the delay in purchasing the reactor would not affect the schedule of the Stennis refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH). The service purchases the carriers years in advance and keeps a certain number on hand in inventory that are not earmarked for specific hulls or overhauls.

The move from the White House follows up statements made by Navy officials that the administration supported two LCS in the Fiscal Year 2018 budget a day after the budget roll-out that called for a single LCS in the budget.

Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) steams through the Pacific Ocean as Sailors, family and friends gather to watch an air and sea power demonstration on Aug. 7, 2016. US Navy photo.

“The administration is supportive of a second LCS. That was brought to us today, so that’s what I know,” Stiller told USNI News when asked about the second ship at the time.

Regardless of the official budget requests, Congress is split on the future of the LCS program ahead of the transition to the planned upgunned frigate that would have a more robust air defense capability than the Flight 0 LCS design.

Both the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) and the House Appropriations Committee for Defense (HAC-D) included three LCS hulls in their versions of the FY 2018 defense bill.

However, the Senate Armed Services Committee bill holds the buy at one LCS.

“We authorized the LCS that was in the budget request. We support the president’s budget in that regard. The testimony from [acting Navy] Secretary Stackley before the SAC-D that one was the minimum in ’18 to sustain the industrial base was taken into account… We found that testimony compelling,” a staffer told reporters on Thursday.
“There’s one LCS in ’18, which the secretary said in SAC-D testimony was the minimum.”

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
Follow @samlagrone

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