Report to Congress on Next Generation LX(R) Amphibious Warship

December 7, 2017 7:55 AM

The following is the November 30, 2017 Congressional Research Service report, Navy LX(R) Amphibious Ship Program: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the Report

The LX(R) program is a program to build a new class of amphibious ships for the Navy. LX(R)s are to replace 12 aging Whidbey Island/Harpers Ferry (LSD-41/49) class amphibious ships, the first of which will reach age 40 in 2025.

Under the Navy’s previous force-level goal to achieve and maintain a fleet of 308 ships, including 34 amphibious ships, the Navy had planned to procure a total of 11 LX(R)s. In December 2016, the Navy released a new force-level goal to achieve and maintain a fleet of 355 ships, including 38 amphibious ships. Under this new force level goal, the total planned number of LX(R)s may be increased to 13.

The procurement of the first LX(R) is scheduled in the Navy’s five-year (FY2018-FY2022) shipbuilding plan for FY2020. To accelerate the procurement of the first LX(R) from FY2020 to FY2019, Congress provided $236 million in advance procurement (AP) funding for the LX(R) program in FY2016. As part of its action on the Navy’s FY2017 budget, however, Congress realigned this funding to instead help fund the procurement in FY2017 of a 13th San Antonio (LPD-17) class amphibious ship. As a result of this funding realignment, the procurement date of the lead LX(R) reverted to FY2020. Navy officials state that the procurement of the first LX(R) can once again be accelerated from FY2020 to FY2019 by providing $98.7 million in advance procurement (AP) funding for the program in FY2018 or FY2019.

The design of the LX(R) is to be derived from the design of the Navy’s LPD-17 class amphibious ships. The LX(R) design is a less expensive and (in some ways) less capable derivative of the LPD-17 design. The LX(R) design was developed to stay within a unit procurement cost target that the Navy had established for the LX(R) program.

The Navy’s proposed FY2018 budget requests no procurement or advance procurement (AP) funding for procuring LPD-17 class ships or LX(R)s; it requests $9.6 million in research and development funds for the LX(R) program.

Issues for Congress for FY2018 regarding the LX(R) program and LPD-17 class ships include the following:

  • whether to approve, reject, or modify the Navy’s FY2018 funding requests for the LX(R) program, including whether to provide funding intended to accelerate the procurement of the first LX(R) to FY2019;
  • whether to provide funding for the procurement in FY2018 of a 14th LPD-17 class ship, so as to accelerate the attainment of the Navy’s desired 38-ship amphibious force and further close the gap between the end of LPD-17 procurement and the start of LX(R) procurement; and
  • whether LX(R)s should be built to the Navy’s currently planned LX(R) design, or to a more expensive and (in some ways) more capable design that is closer to that of the LPD-17 design.


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.
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