Home » Aviation » HASC Subcommittee Marks Recommend Additional Navy Ship Buys, Multi-Year Aircraft Deals


HASC Subcommittee Marks Recommend Additional Navy Ship Buys, Multi-Year Aircraft Deals

USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) is pierside at Naval Base San Diego and preparing to conduct final contract trials (FCT) in 2017. US Navy Photo

CAPITOL HILL – The House Armed Services Committee released sections of its Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, which recommends buying 13 ships and beginning a handful of aircraft multiyear procurement contracts.

Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee

The bill would authorize the 10 ships the Navy requested in its FY 2019 budget requests, and the seapower and projection forces subcommittee recommends adding an additional two Littoral Combat Ships – for a total of three, to meet industry needs – and the procurement of aircraft carrier CVN-81 to support a two-ship block buy. Whether the full committee accepts those recommendations won’t be known for two more weeks, just prior to the May 9 full committee NDAA markup session.

A committee staffer said HASC determined the Navy’s one-LCS request was “damaging to the two construction yards” – the Navy had previously said it needed to buy three a year to maintain shipyard efficiencies and to keep both Austal USA and Fincantieri’s Marinette Marine healthy ahead of the frigate competition next year – and so the subcommittee recommended the full committee include funding for three ships. That would put the Navy at 35 LCSs total, compared to its stated need of 32, but the staffer said the move was meant to ensure the Navy had a good price point for the FY 2019 LCSs and, if either LCS builder is chosen to build the frigate, to allow for a healthy production line going into the new ship program.

On the aircraft carriers, authorizing CVN-81 in 2019 would basically shift the ship up two years, putting it just three years behind the future Enterprise (CVN-80) instead of the now-standard five years. The Navy and Newport News Shipbuilding are working now to finesse the cost-savings estimate for buying CVN-80 and 81 components together, though Newport News has said its portion of the carrier alone could see $1.6 billion in savings, and the Navy has said overall savings – including the purchase of government-furnished equipment – could approach $2.5 billion. By formally authorizing CVN-81 in 2019, the staffer said that would allow the Navy to buy the longest-lead material – the nuclear reactor – in time for an early delivery and then time other components as needed to achieve savings.

USS Nimitz (CVN-68) patrols the Arabian Gulf, Oct. 20, 2017. US Navy Photo

Additionally, the seapower subcommittee noted concerns that the Navy’s carrier force would hit the required 12 carriers for part of FY 2023 but then drop back down to 11 later that year when USS Nimitz (CVN-68) retires. Though carriers are challenged to operate beyond their planned 50-year service life due to relying on nuclear reactor cores for power, the staffer said HASC wants the Navy to take a close look at the remaining fuel in Nimitz’s reactor and see if there’s any way to get beyond 50 years from the ship.

On Virginia-class attack submarines, the fate of a potential third ship in FY 2020 is still undecided, but the seapower subcommittee recommends taking actions to allow for a third ship in 2022 and 2023.

The FY 2018 NDAA authorized the Navy to buy up to 13 SSNs in a multiyear procurement contract currently being negotiated with General Dynamics Electric Boat and Newport News that would cover fiscal years 2019 through 2023. The Navy planned to buy the boats at a rate of two a year, but lawmakers wanted to preserve the opportunity to insert additional ships in up to three years, as industry is able to without adding risk to the top-priority Columbia-class SSBN.

The committee staffer said that, if the 2022 and 2023 boats were added, Electric Boat would do whatever is needed to protect the Columbia program and to put all the additional risk on these two SSNs, meaning they could potentially have longer delivery timelines. Newer employees may be put on the SSNs and resources may be rerouted to support Columbia, the staffer said.

Sailors bring the Virginia-class attack submarine USS Washington (SSN 787) to life during the commissioning ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk on Oct. 7, 2017. US Navy Photo

The decision to pursue these additional SSNs despite the heavy workload the yards already face is a sign of the great importance of SSNs in the fleet. The staffer said the Navy has 52 attack subs today and was headed towards a decline downto just 41 by 2028 – a 20-percent reduction. The staffer said the committee did its best to balance the Columbia program’s ability to stay on time and on budget with the Navy’s and combatant commanders’ needs for more attack subs.

On the upcoming frigate program, which will follow the LCS and fill the small surface combatant requirement starting in FY 2020, the subcommittee would require the Navy to ensure it has the technical data rights for whichever design it picks – five companies are participating in a design maturation effort now and are expected to compete for the detail design and construction contract in 2020 – so that ultimately the Navy could conduct a full and open competition for the ship after the first 10 frigates are built.

A staffer explained that the committee wasn’t trying to force the Navy’s hand, especially since the Navy has not yet released an acquisition strategy for the frigate. However, the second staffer said the two LCS designs were largely proprietary, whereas the Navy owned the technical data rights to the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, which were designed by one yard and now built by two others. Given the fragility of the shipbuilding industrial base now, the staffer said it was important for the Navy to own the design so it could recompete the ship down the line or add a second builder as needed to meet its needs and that of the industrial base.

The seapower section of the bill also pays special attention to the ready reserve force and other strategic sealift assets that often receive less attention and less funding. The ready reserve force is currently made up of 46 ships that average more than 40 years old – with some of them being steam-powered ships. The 2018 NDAA authorized the Navy to buy two used vessels to start to recapitalize that force, but the Navy isn’t planning on doing so until 2021 and 2022, the staffer said. So this year’s bill includes authorization to buy eight more used ships, a requirement to build 10 new ships, and a limitation on Military Sealift Command funding until the Navy signs a contract for last year’s two ships and begins drafting the requirements for a Common Hull Multimission Platform (called Champ) – though the 10 new ships don’t necessarily have to use the Champ hull design.

The bill also prevents the Navy from retiring hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) until a sufficient replacement is in place, though not necessarily a one-for-one replacement with a large hospital ship.

And the bill would provide the Maritime Administration authorization to buy a second new training ship, though it would prevent MARAD from buying a used ship for training purposes, as MARAD had originally planned to do. The first training ship was recently funded in the 2018 spending bill, which was just passed by lawmakers this spring after an extended continuing resolution at the beginning of FY 2018.

The seapower subcommittee’s section of the bill would also allow for multiyear procurement contracts for the C-130J transport airplane, the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning and command and control plane, and the Standard Missile-6 weapon system.

An FA-18E Super Hornet, assigned to the Stingers of Strike Fighter Attack Squadron (VFA) 113, flies over the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) on March 22, 2018. US Navy photo.

Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee

The Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee mark included language that authorizes a multi-year buy of F/A-18E/F Super Hornets to support Navy plans to continue buying the aircraft into the next decade despite previously having planned to end procurement and potentially close the Boeing production line.

The Pentagon’s budget request includes $19 billion total for Navy and Marine Corps aircraft that included 24 Super Hornets, and the recently passed FY 2018 omnibus included $1.8 billion for 24 Super Hornets.

The TACAIR mark also includes several provisions related to the ongoing physiological episode challenges that have plagued both the Navy and Air Force. Those include adding a series of equipment to new Super Hornets cockpit altimeter, upgrading to a new onboard generation system (OBOGs), installing a cockpit altimeter and the install automatic ground collision avoidance system.

The mark also included provisions for an annual report from the Secretary of the Navy on the status of Super Hornet upgrades starting in 2019.

Readiness Subcommittee

The readiness subcommittee added several provisions meant to address last year’s four surface navy collisions and to respond to the two reviews the Navy conducted in the aftermath.

First, the bill seeks to maximize the amount of time a ship and its crew are available to focus on training through several means: it asks the Government Accountability Office to study how to get ships through maintenance more efficiently; it asks the Navy to “provide a report on optimizing surface navy vessel inspections and crew certifications to reduce redundancies and the burden of inspection type visits that ships undergo;” and it would alter the current practice of “studying for the test” ahead of Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) inspections and instead encourage year-round readiness by eliminating scheduled INSURV visits and instead conducting no-notice inspections.

The committee wrote in the readiness mark that “following the collisions involving U.S. Navy ships in the western Pacific, the Navy conducted a comprehensive review of recent surface force incidents. The committee also notes that the Navy’s ‘Comprehensive Review of Recent Surface Force Incidents’ identified an overabundance of inspections, certifications, and that ‘ships can be subjected to as many as 238 separate inspection, certification, and assist visits in a 36 month period.’ The Navy’s ‘Strategic Readiness Review’ of these incidents further identified that there ‘has been a dramatic increase in the operating tempo of individual ships, and accompanying reductions in the time available to perform maintenance, training, and readiness certification.’ The ‘Strategic Readiness Review’ went on to note that ‘sufficient time for training crews and maintaining ships is critical for restoring and monitoring readiness.’”

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Mustin (DDG 89), USS McCampbell (DDG 85), and USS Barry (DDG 52) maneuver near the USS Stethem (DDG 63) during a surface exercise in waters south of Japan on Feb. 27, 2017. The destroyers eventually sailed to Guam to participate in the Multisail 2017 exercise with Japanese forces. US Navy photo.

A staffer said the committee is looking for fewer inspections and more time to train, and another staffer said the no-notice inspection method would force ships and battle groups to keep their material readiness and warfighting proficiency up at all times.

The bill also goes after the surface navy incidents through the lens of accountability. The reviews found a complex chain of command and offices whose responsibilities created conflicts of interest – U.S. 7th Fleet both certifying the readiness of ships and also consuming that readiness by directing operations, for example.

The bill would “require the Secretary of the Navy to designate a single commander within the Department of the Navy responsible for ensuring Navy forces are available for tasking and deployment, including those Navy forces that may be operating from a forward deployed location. This section would also require the Secretary to designate a single commander for all Navy shipyards, including any located overseas. … The committee encourages the Secretary to consider designating the Commander, Fleet Forces Command, as the responsible commander for tasking and deployment, as that official performs that function now for all naval forces excepting the Pacific Fleet. The committee notes that the Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command, has the overall responsibility within the Department of the Navy for scheduling and maintaining Navy vessels in public and private shipyards, with the exception of the U.S. Naval Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center. The committee encourages the Secretary to consider designating the Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command, as the single commander of naval shipyards, including the facility located in Japan.”

The recommendation to put U.S. Fleet Forces Command in charge of all force generation goes against the “Inouye Amendment” that for years has sought to keep U.S. Pacific Fleet in charge of its own readiness generation and employment. A committee staffer said HASC is working with the appropriators to come to an agreement, since it is the annual spending bills that have continued to include the Inouye Amendment every year and could supersede what HASC is trying to do with this item.

Additionally, the bill would codify that no Navy ship be allowed to remain forward-deployed to a homeport outside of the United States for more than 10 years – which is already the Navy policy but has not been strictly enforced. For ships currently forward-deployed that have been abroad for more than 10 years, the Navy would have three years to bring them to a U.S. homeport.

A committee staffer said that more than half the Navy’s forward-deployed ships have been abroad more than 10 years. USNI News understands that in the Forward Deployed Naval Force in Japan alone, six ships have exceeded the 10-year mark, with destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG-54) having served from Japan since 1995. USS John S. McCain (DDG-56), which was involved in a fatal collision last year and is now undergoing repairs in Singapore, had operated in Japan since 1997. Cruiser USS Shiloh (CG-67) and destroyers USS Stethem (DDG-63), USS Mustin (DDG-89) and USS McCampbell (DDG-85) all arrived in Japan between 2005 and 2007.

Sam LaGrone contributed to this report.

  • D. Jones

    “the seapower and projection forces subcommittee recommends adding an additional two Littoral Combat Ships – for a total of three, to meet industry needs”

    What about the Navy’s needs? What about the needs of National Defense? The LCS contributes NOTHING to either. Zip. Zilch. Zero.

    Everyone pushing for additional LCS needs voted out. R or D. The “industry” has given us two variants of a ship which is an unmitigated failure, and congress wants more? Take it out of their salaries, staff budgets and pensions.

  • Curtis Conway

    Excerpt: A committee staffer said HASC determined the Navy’s one-LCS request was “damaging to the two construction yards”. . . . so they didn’t ‘down select’ and kept the jobs at the yards for the Obama administration so the unemployment numbers wouldn’t get worse.

    The LCS Program turned into a Corporate Welfare Program. From that day forward this has been a ‘hull numbers’ game, not a ‘Surface Combatant Capabilities at sea’ program. Now a significant portion of our surface combatant fleet will be these anemic ships with less survivability. Thank You US Navy LCS Program Office.

    • PolicyWonk

      Obama was hardly a perfect POTUS.

      However, it was the Obama Administration that restored the nations economy after 8 years of the worst Chief Executive performance in a century (including two grossly mismanaged wars – that we’re STILL fighting – and after suffering a massive defeat in the GWOT to Al Qaida), according to even the conservatives that contribute to the scoring of the Presidential Ranking Studies.

      Obama presided over the longest period of continuous economic growth of any of his predecessors – despite his many flaws (leaving behind an economy President Trump is all too happy to take credit for and we’re still reaping the benefits of – well before DJT did anything).

      Each POTUS inherits the economy of his predecessor – this is the historical fact.

      One LCS shipyard might’ve had some impact – somewhere in the tiny fraction of a percent overall – but in a more than trillion dollar annual economy of which the LCS program cost this nation $36B over 15 years – and one LCS shipyard garnering less than half of that (there are all the “mission packages”, etc., STILL under development and many years late), one shipyard losing a business that created a fleet of pier-queens ultimately wouldn’t have changed anything (from an employment, or a national security perspective). This is the mathematical fact.

      Therefore – blaming the USN’s poor choices – including compounding the unholy error that is LCS that was entirely of their own making – on Obama – is both gratuitous and off-topic (that program started during the administration of George W Bush). Obama increased the shipbuilding that the Administration of George W Bush all but ignored, and let the “professionals” in the USN determine what they needed – he (to his credit, not having expertise on these matters) stayed largely out of the navy’s internal affairs.

      Now if you want to burn him for putting LCS fan-boy Ray Mabus in charge of the Navy – that’s fair (lets face it: we ALL knew Mabus would be a problem well before he was even confirmed).

      But its the USN that since (and recently) rewarded the hyper-incompetent PEO LCS that ran “the program that broke naval acquisition” (this according to the USN itself), and put them in charge of acquiring all SSC and smaller vessel acquisition, including the FFG(X).

      In short – Obama certainly wasn’t without his problems – but the USN gets sole responsibility for the abortion that is LCS. And it is oddly fitting, BTW, that the picture above shows two LCS’s tied up to the pier (demonstrably, its natural habitat).

      Cheers.

      • muzzleloader

        Obama presided over the longest period of economic growth of any of his predecessors???
        Good God, the man racked up more national debt than all his predecessors combined!
        The GDP level during his entire 8 years was flatline!
        You are obviously a fan of his, but please be accurate with your facts.

        • Duane

          I never voted for Obama, but he inherited a one point two trillion deficit on the day he was sworn in … and drove it down into the $400M minus range … while Trump and his GOP enablers drove it right back up to the trillion dollar level last year with the tax cuts, perversely enacted in a strong growing economy bequeathed by Obama to Trump, and which Congress’s own analysts said would add multiple trillions of new debt in the next few years.

          Facts are inconvenient to your case.

          • D. Jones

            How many billions did O and his assistant Valerie Jarrett give to Iran?

            Who is our biggest problem in the Middle East?

          • Curtis Conway

            “…and drove it [national debt] down into the $400M minus range…” ???
            What little credibility you had before has just vanished.

          • Duane

            Check out the actual deficit data … Under Obama and a democratic Congress, the deficit plunged each year to the $400Bs, then after the GOP took control of both Senate and House in FY2016, deficits reversed course, climbing to high $500Bs in FY 2017 and now projected by CBO to reach $987B this year.

            G’won, look it up dude. It’s all there as very public data

            Facts are such inconvenient nasty little things when they get in the way of closed little minds.

          • Curtis Conway

            You might want to check out the formula changes on just how that new superwizbang debt number was calculated.

          • Duane

            No formulas … official US government figures. There is no massaging or hedging or fake news here. The numbers are the numbers.

            You just refuse to accept facts because you prefer your own set of private “facts”.

          • Curtis Conway

            Who do you think defines those forumlas . . . for the GOVERNMENT? Go back to sleep Roman Citizen just before the fall.

          • muzzleloader

            So you view tax cuts which have been very beneficial in putting more of Americans hard earned money back into their own wallets, as a negative? And you say that Obama DROVE DOWN the debt??
            And you say that a tax cut which has benefited my wife and I in more take home pay, is perverse??
            But then, being the progressive liberal that you are, why would I be surprised?

          • Duane

            No … tax cuts that go mostly to the very wealthy and highly profitable corporations during a period of ten years of sustained economic growth (until now, tax cuts, like those enacted under Reagan and GWB were used to stimulate the economy during recessions) while strangling our military in the out years while saddling our children and grandchildren with many trillions of additional debt is bad policy.

            The average American working class taxpayer sees less than $2 per pay period in lower taxes. Not even the price of a cup of coffee.

            No wonder all the polls show that the GOP tax cuts in 2017 are highly unpopular, while worrying our military leaders about future defense funding.

          • muzzleloader

            Tax cuts go to the wealthy? That is the standard boilerplate liberal response to tax cuts that Pelosi and Schumer spout constantly. Ditto the complaint that the average american sees less than $2 a day. You may not believe it, but americans genuinely like being able to keep more of their own money. My wife and I still work, and we definitely see a difference. So you and Pelosi can call it not worth cup of coffee, or crumbs as pelosi said. Working americans appreciate it
            All the polls show that the tax cut is highly unpopular? That is a lie.
            I cans how you several sources that show that most americans approve of it.
            And no, I am not talking of Fox news.

          • Bill

            Do you even have a clue as to the difference between “deficit” and “debt?” If you did you wouldn’t be heaping praises on “O.”

        • PolicyWonk

          Don’t you people ever get tired of pretending everything was just ducky until Obama showed up? You’d think the administration of George W Bush didn’t even exist, which easily gages the shame of what is still called, but no longer resembles the Republican party.

          When GWB left office, he left behind the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression, which according to the CBO report on the Causes of The Great Recession, 90% of the damage was done before the democrats won a slim majority in the HoR’s in 2006. By then, the damage had already been done.

          In the last 6 months of that administration, the USA had lost 6M+ jobs, and was losing 800k jobs/month. This doesn’t count leaving behind 2 incompetently managed wars (both of which we’re still either fighting directly, or indirectly), in addition to the worst string of foreign policy and national security disasters in history. Oh yes – he also left behind a military at its lowest state of readiness since Vietnam (JCS report to the POTUS on Force Readiness, spring 2009).

          The myth of capable GOP leadership during time of war was thoroughly debunked as little more than fantasy as a result.

          The vast majority of competent economists don’t think Obama spent enough – but what was spent was necessary to reboot the economy and prevent the US (and the rest of the world) from falling into a complete depression (also according to the vast majority of economists).

          The GOP failed this nation miserably, as did that POTUS. And in the event the picture isn’t clear enough as of yet yet – here’s simple example for you to check out: Just compare the state of the union inherited by George W Bush to the state of the union inherited by Barak Obama.

          Any questions?

          Then check out the state of the union inherited by Barak Obama, and the state of the union inherited by Donald Trump.

          That should solidify it – the FACTS speak for themselves.

          We’ll see what is left of the economy under the current guy – but given his published schedule shows he only works an whopping 1.5 hours/day. He’s terribly lazy and can’t be bothered to learn the basics of the policies he supposedly supports, which stuns the elected representatives (including the GOP) he meets with. Then there are the published reports that he can’t be bothered to read the CIA Daily Briefs they prepare for him – he isn’t studying for the meetings with N. Korea – and intends to “wing it” when he meets Kim Jong Un.

          Maybe the difference, is that I expect a lot out of a Chief Executive. And over GWB and DJT’s administrations, the GOP’s expectations were/are so low an ant wouldn’t have to lift its legs to step over them.

          Cheers.

          • muzzleloader

            I have never said that things were “ducky” under Bush.
            I was very disappointed with his presidency in many ways. He was no conservative.
            But to say that economists think that Obama did not spend enough?? Oh please.
            Where do get your facts?
            The economic GDP was miserable under Obama. Yes, Wall Street did well because the Fed was printing money like there was no tomorrow, but genuine economic growth was flatline.
            And what of the stimulus package that Obama carried out as soon as he got in office? $787 Billion for “shovel ready jobs” that even Obama said was a failure.
            Trumps published schedule says he works 1/12 hours a day? He is terribly lazy?
            It’s obvious that you despise trump, but hyperbole will get you nowhere.

          • PolicyWonk

            You insinuated things were ducky under Bush, because you attempted to make it look like Obama just arbitrarily showed up and blew $2T at the racetrack for no reason whatsoever. To put it mildly, that was being disingenuous.

            Apparently, unlike you, I get my FACTS from real resources, such at the WSJ, The Financial Times, and a large variety of other sources (I stay away from poison that is Fox – because they are simply pathetic – even Roger Ailes called them “opinion” and “entertainment”, as opposed to “news” ).

            One has to wonder where you get YOUR information, because the results of GOP incompetence are there for all to see – and the RESULTS speak for themselves. I dont’ care what they SAY – I look at RESULTS. I notice you ignored my recommendation to compare the SOTU before and after GWB – are you simply afraid of the hard facts?

            I realize you’re desperate to not admit what a wretched mistake it is/was to vote for a flagrant incompetent such as Donald Trump. I had high hopes for him and wished him well when he took office – but I didn’t vote for him because I considered him incompetent (I voted for John Kasich). He has done nothing since taking office to display competence, though increasing the budget for the DoD would’ve been a lot better if he hadn’t simply tossed a pile of money at a DoD who’s acquisition practices garner this nation the worst deal for defense dollar spent in the western world.

            Then there are the multitudes of ethical lapses on the part of him and his administration, that are directly in contrast of him claiming he was going to “drain the swamp” (total BRAVO SIERRA), among more problems far too numerous to repeat in this forum.

            And yes indeed – you can see Trump’s own work schedule because its publicly available, and even his staff says they are stunned by his laziness and unwillingness to do his homework (no one ever said that about Obama). What about the amount of time the guys spends playing golf? He spent more time playing golf in his first year than Obama did in two full terms in office – after claiming he’d do the opposite on the campaign trail.

            And BTW – unlike the winged monkeys of and for what passes for today’s GOP – I don’t have to resort to hyperbole. Because their collective incompetence is truly that bad the so-called “tax reform” is a disaster they’re already trying to walk away from.

            As I pointed out – Trump’s unwillingness to do his homework on anything has been routinely reported even by the GOP leadership, let alone our NATO partners who have to dumb-down their presentations for him; or our friends who report the same problems. Look at the foreign policy sites – its widely reported globally, that if you want something from Trump, all you have to do is flatter him excessively, stroke his ego, and hand him some trinkets – and you’ll get what you want. Just ask the Saudis, Russians, Chinese, and Israelis – its worked for all of them repeatedly.

            If you cannot see the light of day, and are incapable of dealing with the sad facts surrounding an administration that cannot be described without use of the term “cluster”, this is your problem – not mine.

            It has nothing to do with hate – it has to do with the cold, hard, facts. But you can pretend otherwise – I won’t lose any sleep over it.

            But let me ask you this: What’s it like to have to wake up every day, wondering what kind of horror or embarrassment would come out of the White House that morning, that you know you’re gong to have to attempt to deflect attention from, scream about Hillary/Benghazi, or Obama, and otherwise dream up excuses for?

            Just since last night, Mr. Trump tossed his attorney under the bus, now saying that Cohen DID represent him in the Stormy Daniels thing, after swearing for months he didn’t know her, and also after his and Cohens attorney’s had been in court claiming the same for ages to prevent Federal investigators from reading stuff that was supposed to be held in confidence under attorney/client privacy?

            The man cannot control either what comes out of his own mouth, and lies so much he cannot keep his stories straight. Clearly, he cannot be bothered to listen to the sound advice of his attorneys – and he consistently brings these problems onto himself.

            And all the mean old democrats have to do, is sit on the side and get another bowl of popcorn and watch the dumpster fire.

            Have a great morning!

          • muzzleloader

            Where to begin..You are the one who keeps bringing up Bush, and that we all thought his administration was a panacea, not me. His prescription drug plan that ted kennedy wrote and he signed into law, was a disaster. After 9/11 Bush begat Homeland Security, an all new federal agency, that could have been handled by the FBI, CIA, Interpol, ect. His lack of concern over illegal immigration, you get the point. So no, Bush was not perfect.
            But that does not negate that Obama spent $ 787 billion on a stimulus bill that only enriched wall street and the unions.
            That you hate republicans is obvious, fine, you are entitled to your opinion.
            You also despise Fox News, which is fine, all liberals do, because Fox dares to defy the orthodoxy of the mainstream media. Never mind that it remains the #1 cable news channel in the country.
            You said that I am desperate to admit what mistake it was to vote for Trump? LOL. Wishful thinking there?
            I am very glad that I voted for Trump, and I would make the same selection again today. Is he perfect? No. The only mornings that would have been a horror would have been if Hillary clinton had been elected.
            What you don’t under stand, is those of us who voted for Trump were sick and tired of the professional politicians that are responsible for getting our country in the mess it is in today.
            It is the fault of both parties, because both parties are the elites.
            We decided to go with someone who is an outsider.
            You probably don’t get that, but that’s ok too.

          • PolicyWonk

            No wishful thinking on my part! Heck no!

            I’m delighted you’re glad you voted for Trump – someone has to be!. Because you’re part of an ever-shrinking minority in the USA who seem to prefer living in the less-than-real world.

            Yet you still haven’t answered my question w/r/t what its like to have to get up every day, wondering what special brand kind of crazy got tweeted the night before, that you feel you’ll have to attempt to deflect attention from, or otherwise deny?

            Sad. You’re having a hard time explaining that one to yourself, eh?

            We didn’t have to do that with G W Bush, who has even gone on the tube to say that “Trump makes me look good!” (now there’s a slam!). Nor did anyone have to do that with Obama (he was terribly boring in that respect, eh?).

            Yet with Mr. Trump – it has to be done almost every single day. The man isn’t disciplined enough to keep his mouth shut, learn from his mistakes, or even take his attorneys advice. He was totally unhinged on Fox and Friends last week to the point to where they cut the POTUS off on national television (watching them cringe as he ranted and incriminated himself was impressive indeed)!

            He’s doing such a great job, that his staffers that want to quit have nowhere to go, because no one wants them. He can’t get new qualified staff from either party (another problem his predecessors never had), as no one wants to work at a job that makes $170k per year, given the huge hours they have to do (bringing them in line with a junior software engineer), or requires that you “lawyer up” due to the numerous ethical lapses, Russia investigations, and never ending parade of scandals – let alone permanently compromising their career path (usually, working for a White House gives you many opportunities: this one is a notable exception in that it taketh away!).

            I’d like to think you’d see this as a problem – but maybe not. He can’t get competent help. 12 major law firms turned him down flat – unprecedented with any POTUS in history. So he has to deal with “no-name” attorneys, and finally resorted to scraping old Rudy G out of semi-retirement.

            W/r/t Fox, I’ll agree that Fox certainly defies the orthodoxy of the mean old MSM, by lying as often as Trump does. They were the ones after all, that went to the SCOTUS to defend their right to call their lies “news”. Even Roger Ailes calls it an “entertainment” and/or “opinion” network, so they can avoid using “facts” when they “report”. But if you don’t live in the real world and can’t handle reality – just keep drinking that Kool-Aid. That’ll stick to them liberals! Unfortunately, you stick it to yourself, too (whoopsie)!

            He just threw his long-time attorney/fixer (Cohen) under the bus, landing Cohen, himself, and their attorneys campaign to get them partially off the hook, into very serious trouble. Prosecutors were using his statements against him in court within 2 hours! That’s got to be an all-time record – is this the “winning” he was talking about?

            There are a lot of unpleasant realities that will likely be hitting the Trump Administration before long, and all but certainly come November. If he thinks his life is hard now, he won’t have long to wait to find our otherwise.

            Sad.

          • Tom Herrick

            Agreed, and most Dems don’t seem to understand, is that Trump supporters are VERY tired of DCs long history of competence and lack of productivity. I guess some really liked the status quo for some strange reason. We the people deserve better.

      • Curtis Conway

        All the regulations and increased taxes that held growth potential down is not a positive in my mind. Investing any amount of money in the Pier Queens has been a waste because they are not survivable combat ships, even in their new definition of ‘survivability is combat capability’ which is false. Survivability is specifically defined by US Navy Regulations as having to do with watertight integrity & compartmentalization. As to who is responsible for the LCS overall, and the decision NOT to build an Aegis Frigate years ago, that decision was hatched all the way back into the late 1980’s and found root in future plans in the 1990s. Then it found program creation and growth after the turn of the century. I wonder who all got their money lined up to take full advantage of this fiasco over the last decade+? It has been mentioned that the mission packages will be utile wherever they go in the future, not limited to LCS platforms. I sincerely hope that MCM package works and we AT LEAST get some return on that huge investment in the Mine Countermeasures arena.
        As far as mathematical facts, during the Obama Administration facts meant very little, and a growing debt in the face of this awesome economy you speak of, does not pan out.
        I do place blame on the US Navy Leadership, or more accurately lack thereof, on the LCS PEO situation. It was all politics and about numbers, never combat capability, that is why Operational Test & Eval will give a bad review for this platform. If the Navy had stuck to the original plan of an Aegis Fleet we would have been miles down the road, and much better off, than choosing this path taken. However, hindsight is 20/20, and no one is perfect, but that does not excuse the fact that many of us pointed out this infatuation with ‘Speed’, in a 2D combat environment claiming wisdom from aviation combat models based upon a 3D model, and it NEVER made sense. High speed on the surface of the ocean in the modern Battle-Space makes you an easier target to find.
        Violating US Navy Survivability Regulations written in Blood over centuries of hull design and combat experience made even less sense . . . AND many of us said so all the way through the process. Those who thought otherwise . . . though very little of our precious sailors.
        We actually have those who would mandate FFG(X) be an LCS derivative, even though it will have little capability in the Arctic should one ever go there (hopefully not in winter/fall/spring), and one would NEVER want to ride it in heavy seas, which would probably end up in a debris field, and many letters written to surviving spouses.

        So you see we are somewhat in agreement, but not wholly so.

  • Sir Bateman

    Given that at minimum one LCS yard will be left out in the cold when it comes time to award the FFG(X) contract, and heaven forbid if neither yard’s bid wins, what’s congress planning on doing with the LCS yard or yards that get the short end of the stick? Just keep building LCS’s indefinitely?

  • NavySubNuke

    “the seapower and projection forces subcommittee recommends adding an additional two Littoral Combat Ships – for a total of three, to meet industry needs ”
    Well at least they acknowledge that forcing additional virtually unarmed death traps on the Navy has nothing to do with the Navy’s needs or wants and is instead all about the pork.

    • PolicyWonk

      True enough. However, adding to the unholy list of pier-queen acquisitions does nothing for our national security, and arguably detracts from it.

      • NavySubNuke

        Certainly – but in this case the importance of the pork matters more than national security and thus we will have more of these death traps forced onto the Navy.

  • MLepay

    With the very limited number of yards available for military work of this nature sounds like they are prudently doing what they can to keep two LCS yards viable at least until the FFG(x) program gets decided. LCS may not be the greatest program but the skills of the workforce need to be maintained at least in the short term.

    • DaSaint

      32 was the requirement. The committee is now recommending 35. That means that one of them gets an extra. My bet is that when they reconcile, the final number will be either 34 or 36, with an even split.

  • PolicyWonk

    “…and, if either LCS builder is chosen to build the frigate, to allow for a healthy production line going into the new ship program…”
    =============================================
    Uh-oh. This is good news for our LCS fan-boys, who would love nothing better than to see incompetence rewarded, and very bad news for the taxpayers and US national security, let alone the FREMM and/or HII fans.

  • Sir Bateman

    If neither Austal or Marinette Marine win the FFG(X) contract with their LCS derivatives will either be able to stay viable between the winding down of the LCS program and the completion of the 10th FFG(X) after which they could conceivably bid to construct the FFG(X)?

    Also isn’t Austal currently limited to the construction of aluminum ships, if their design doesn’t win does their yard have the ability to readily switch to conventional steel hull construction?

    • D. Jones

      Austal builds aluminium ferries and small aluminium patrol craft.

      To wit:

      “Yet as the Navy ramps up production of the high-speed vessels, the Pentagon’s chief weapons inspector warns that the low-slung cargo ship has little or no chance of surviving an enemy attack.

      Modeled on a commercial ferry, the vessel “is not designed or expected to be survivable against weapons effects encountered in combat missions,” according to the latest annual review by J. Michael Gilmpore, director of operational test and evaluation at the Defense Department.

      In subsequent statements the Pentagon said the JHSV had been considered and “ideally suited” for its intended mission, but it remained unclear whether in fact such vessels would be used in combat situations.”

      None of their stuff is survivable.

      Their only asset is speed. Can it outrun a torpedo, missile, mine or gunfire? No. So why are we putting our soldiers, sailers and Marines on them?

      At least give our miltary personnel a fighting chance. This is the marine equivalent of sending troops into battle in Grumman aluminum potato chip delivery step-vans.

      • So, exactly how much armor should we be putting on our fleet tugs and oceanographic ships to make them survivable?

        • D. Jones

          How many fleet tugs & oceanographic vessels do we send into combat zones?

          • Duane

            We sent hundreds of DDs and DEs into battle with little to no armor. That is what enabled the DDs to cruise much faster than the armored cruisers and BBs, and which enabled the DEs to be produced so cheaply. DDs depended upon high speed and maneuverability for defense, not armor. Just as in the age of sail, frigates depended upon their high sailing speed and maneuveability, for which they were highly prized, but were dead meat in a gun battle with a ship of the line.

            Our fleet submarines had zero armor except a little strip around the upper bridge fairwater capable only of fending off light weapons fire … which is why submarines avoided getting into any gun battles with armed surface ships.

          • D. Jones

            We’d be better off building Fletchers than more LCS.

          • DaSaint

            How much armor or survivability is built into our Cyclones or MkVs?

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Very little. They are patrol craft. They don’t have crews of 80+. Or cost over a half-billion dollars each.

          • DaSaint

            Irrelevant. Lots of our naval auxiliaries have larger crews and cost over half a billion dollars. Lives are lives. The Cyclone crews aren’t expendable due to their crew size, and I don’t think you’re suggesting that.

            In wartime, every naval asset is a target, whether it cost $65M, $200M, $400M or half a billion or more. Depending on what hits them will determine whether they survive.

            I absolutely think that had the LCS packed a heavier punch initially, even with their vulnerabilities, there would have been less criticism.

            But alas, the braintrust didnt do that, and we are where we are. Hopefully lessons will be learned for the FFG(X).

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Yes. Lives are lives. And it makes little sense to put 80+ men and women’s lives at risk in a ship that is about as survivable as an auxiliary.

            You have to considrr the ROC/POE. I don’t imagine we will be putting TAOs on the front line in any future conflict. That’s why they are USNS vice USS.

            LCS is purportedly a warship. It displaces about the same as other navy’s frigates. It should be a lot more survivable than a MkV or PC.

          • DaSaint

            I feel all our combatants should be survivable. But it depends on from what. The LCS should have been better armed from jump. Unfortunately, we don’t know the survivability of other similar vessels in other navies, we just see their armament.

            BTW, love your handle! The artist formerly known as…

    • DaSaint

      Austal will most likely get additional EPFs or EPF variants as Hospital or Command ships, as mentioned in these pages over the last few days. They’re building the case for continued production there.

      Austal can build in steel also, at least they do in Australia and their yard in the Philippines. So they can reconfigure if needed.

    • Duane

      There is no question about finishing up the remaining LCS hulls. The issue is sustaining the hot production lines for the long lead items. Shutting down the long lead stuff and then restarting them a year or two later still lets the highly trained workers and suppliers and the suppliers’ workers get away, only to have to be recruited and trained all over again. That adds cost, lengthens delivery schedule, and depresses quality.

  • D. Jones

    Both Austal & Marinette turn out nothing critical to national defense. Pure 100% pork for vote-getting. If both shipyards went away, today, the impact would be minimal. If Austal must be kept afloat, build more Spearheads (they’re “modular” so that must be good).

    Marinette/Manitowoc should stick to cranes. They can build lake icebreakers but their construction is constrained by the locks on the Great Lakes. Their contract for LCS is due solely to their Lockmart links ($$$ “influence” contributions to congress).

    Neither shipyard does anything critical to national defense. We’re not talking Newport News or Groton. This is corporate welfare at its worst.

    If their quality was top notch, they’d have plenty of private sector work lined up to fill gaps. They don’t. That speaks volumes.

    Let’s not forget the Little Rock BROKE DOWN before it could get out of the SLS before iced in. A brand new ship. Junk. Junk that saps away scarce resources which could be used for functional ships from competent manufacturers.

    The deployment rate says it all.

  • DaSaint

    Let’s not think that the HASC thought of that brilliant idea all by themselves. I’m sure that ‘recommendation’ was planted by industry lobbying and Navy acquiescence, as multiple yards building the same design brings down costs. In essence, a win-win-win for all three: Congress, Industry, and Navy.

    • Duane

      Yes … the Navy studiously avoids any input to policy decisions that us by its nature political, such as sustaining competing warship yards. The Navy lets Congress and the yards and the suppliers carry the water in those political battles, while the Navy avoids the appearance of taking sides.

  • Scott Ferguson

    Think Duaney realized that? 😉

  • Oh, I didn’t realize that the armed helicopters, drones, surface to air missiles, surface to surface missiles, 57mm gun, and 30mm guns were all completely useless. I guess those weapons only function if they put on something traditional looking with an FF or DD hull code.

  • @USS_Fallujah

    If the responses to boards like this are indicative of most feedback generally the Program managers for the Ford, Burke, Zumwalt and Virginia classes must be the happiest people on earth. The USS Enterprise could capsize at launch and people would still be ranting about what gun is mounted on the LCS.

    • Duane

      It is not explainable by any known logic or facts, this ship hate, which is unbelievably weird and perverse.

      • @USS_Fallujah

        I’m not fan of the LCS myself, but even if they accomplish nothing else but keep DDGs from wasting time (and M&O funds) doing piddle stuff like chasing pirates & drug runners the USN is probably “In the Black”

        • NavySubNuke

          Had they actually arrived at a reasonable cost and actually been deployable I would be with you but look at the tens of billions of dollars that has been diverted to design and construct these ships. We could have spent half as much and gotten ships as capable (if not more capable).
          And if the Navy had done the right thing we wouldn’t be wasting extra millions every year maintaining TWO logistics pipelines and TWO school houses — twice the tail for no additional capability. Oh and lets not forget that the mission modules are interchangable either so we will have SIX logistics pipelines for the three different modules.
          The amount of money wasted on this class could have put 15+ more DDGs into the fleet and paid for their crewing and maintenance…..

          • DaSaint

            While I agree with you in general, we have to all admit that our shipbuilding costs are often way out of line. Case in point, the FRC is roughly $60-$65M each. That’s a modification of a Damen 4207 parent design that costs everyone else no more than $20M each. How does that hull & equipment come in at 3X more??

            So had the LCS come in at $300M apiece, I’m not sure we would have been any happier with their configuration and/or armament.

  • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

    “… and the seapower and projection forces subcommittee recommends adding an additional two Littoral Combat Ships – for a total of three, to meet industry needs.”

    Sigh. Once again Congress proves that their continued support of LCS is more about pork than warfighting capability.

    • Jon

      Save money long-term, to just cut them a check and tell them not to bother building the ship.

    • Lazarus

      Block buys drive down the price point. That’s not “pork” but rather fiscal responsibility.

      • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

        Laz – exactly how is forcing the Navy to buy more ships than its own stated needs “fiscally responsible”?

        It looks like an attempt by Congress to give the LCS designs an edge in the FFG(X) competition. Heck, the anonymous HASC staffer said as much.