Home » Budget Industry » Navy Awards 2 LCSs to Austal USA; Third FY 2019 Ship Still Being Negotiated


Navy Awards 2 LCSs to Austal USA; Third FY 2019 Ship Still Being Negotiated

The future USS Charleston (LCS-18) during acceptance trials on July 18, 2018. Austal photo.

Austal USA was awarded two of the three Littoral Combat Ships the Navy can buy in Fiscal Year 2019, further increasing the number of Independence-variant LCSs the Navy will ultimately have in the fleet.

The Navy awarded contract to build LCS-36 and LCS-38 to the Mobile, Ala.-based company on Friday evening.

In a Monday statement, Austal highlighted the unprecedented calendar year it has had, delivering three LCSs and being awarded a total of four new ships, including two FY 2018 ships that were awarded in mid-September.

“To be awarded two more LCS contracts before the end of the year is beyond exciting,” Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle said in the statement.
“This contract directly reflects the confidence the U.S. Navy has in Austal USA and our supplier base of over 10,000 nationwide and our ability to build highly capable ships at an affordable cost.”

Though the Navy in the early days of the LCS program awarded equal numbers of Independence-variant LCSs to Austal and Freedom-variant LCSs to Lockheed Martin, Austal has in recent years been churning out its ships faster and for a lower cost, according to several sources.

With Friday’s award, Austal now has 19 LCSs built, under construction or under contract, whereas Lockheed Martin has 15. Austal has five of its even-numbered LCSs under construction – 20, 22, 24, 26 and 28 – and hulls 30, 32, 34, 36 and 38 have now been awarded. At Lockheed Martin’s production line at the Marinette Marine shipyard in Wisconsin, odd-numbered LCSs 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25 and 27 are all in various stages of construction and testing, with LCS-29 under contract but not yet started at the yard.

Just one ship remains to be awarded before the Navy transitions from the LCS to the frigate – either LCS-31 or LCS-40, depending on which company is awarded the contract – and negotiations between the Navy and industry are ongoing.

“Based on the nature of the ongoing competitive procurement for the third FY 2019 LCS, the Navy is unable to release detailed information at this time,” Naval Sea Systems Command spokeswoman Colleen O’Rourke told USNI News today.
“The Navy is committed to an LCS program that provides the ships needed for the Navy’s force structure requirement, with an acquisition strategy that uses competition and fixed-price type contracts in order to meet overarching objectives of performance and affordability.”

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    Well, that’s one way to waste over a billion dollars.

    • NavySubNuke

      Wasting billions of dollars is what congress does best after all…

      • PolicyWonk

        Sad but true… The current lot is spending enough to embarrass a drunken Kennedy!

        • NavySubNuke

          Well at least they haven’t murdered anyone like Teddy did.

          • PolicyWonk

            Not directly anyway. Yet (at least w/r/t LCS). The GOP-“led” HoR’s have however completely abrogated their mandated oversight of the executive branch when it comes to committing our servicemen/women to battle, and/or other dangerous assignments. So they have far more blood on their hands through neglect than Teddy could’ve ever had.

            The above said, continued investment into this corporate welfare program, with some in the USN still pretending these deathtraps should be counted as war-fighting assets, is (sadly) more than likely to prove fatal to some very unfortunate American sailors. When they start buying their own BRAVO SIERRA, as they have with this program: all bets are off.

      • old guy

        It has been that way for the last 30 years.

    • Duane

      Nope – no waste at all.

  • omegatalon

    It’s sort of strange that while the US Navy appears to have a preference for the Independence class LCS; Saudi Arabia decided on a ship based on Lockheed’s Freedom class LCS as one has to wonder what the Saudi Royal Navy knows that the US Navy doesn’t.

    • If the USN and the Saudi Navy have a difference of opinion, I know which one I’m listening to and it is not the Arabs.

    • DaSaint

      15 LCS + 4 MMS for Saudi Arabia as compensation/POTUS Red Carpet treatmemt. BTW…where’s the contract?

    • Duane

      It is not a universal preference. It is theater based.

      The Indys are all west coast based, and are forward deploying exclusively to the Indo Pac theater, where the far longer distances require longer legs. The Freedoms are all east coast based and will forward deploy to the Atlantic/Middle East theater, where the ranges between friendly ports are much less. The Indy’s have significantly longer legs (4,500 nm vs. 3,500 nm .. and have aux fuel tanks that can push the range up to 5,400 nm when loaded).

      So given that the biggest and fastest growing naval threat today is China, it makes sense that the Navy wants relatively more of the Indys to deploy to that theater.

    • PolicyWonk

      Look at what the Saudis ordered – a more conventional ship that is in many ways very different from the Freedom class.

      The sea-frame of the Saudi Freedom variant has a hull made of steel, and represents a more conventional design. The Independence class is all aluminum, represents a far more innovative design, and has a simpler propulsion system.

      Pick your poison.

      • Centaurus

        Plus, Aluminum will burn at a high temp, re: HMS Sheffield and others during Falklands.

        • Secundius

          HMS Sheffield’s superstructure was made of STEEL, Not Aluminum! You’re point being what exactly…

          • Centaurus

            Forget it, you are correct.

    • Secundius

      How many “Heavy Lift Helicopters” does the Saudi’s have, that can’t land on the “Freedom’s” Flight Deck. Which is STILL Bigger then the one on the “AB’s”…

  • TheFightingIrish

    With 35 LCS ships (34 built, under construction, or under contract, plus 1 to be ordered) in the fleet, will this reduce the numbers of FFGs to be procured? I’m guessing yes.

    • Duane

      No – the Navy has determined the need for long range surface escorts – which is what the FFGX is – is 20 ships, and until the Navy revises its fleet plan, likely due to a change in Federal law (which sets the fleet plan to achieve 355 ships by the mid-2030s), that’s where it will stay.

  • DaSaint

    When are they getting their bridge wings? Does anyone have a pic with them retrofitted?

    • Ed L

      I saw a photo online showing bridge wings on Independence LCS 2. Well the LCS could make a good minesweeper as long as it doesn’t have to go into a minefield

      • Duane

        That’s the point … we are getting rid of “minesweepers” that “go into a minefield”, using instead remotely operated unmanned systems, aircraft, surface craft, and submersibles, that eliminate the danger to the ship of being sunk by a mine.

        In our last major defensive mine war, in Korea, nearly all of the ships that were sunk by enemy mines were the minesweepers.

        • Curtis Conway

          AND aviation support is the key to mine sweeping.

      • PolicyWonk

        The good news is that they’ll be good a sweeping mines, at least once!

        ;-P

  • Bubblehead

    With all the drugs flooding flooding this country, with alot of it on the semi-submersibles, why are these LCS’s still wielded to the piers? Send them out to catch the drug smugglers for petes sake. Or is that too hostile of an environment for it?

    The best use I can find for these things is target practice so when they sink (which is very easy) they make nice artificial reefs for the fish.

    • Duane

      No LCS are welded to the piers. They are all operating weekly unless in scheduled maintenance availabilities. They’ve been extremely busy performing crew training and qualification for all the new construction ships, and testing and integration of new weapons and systems.

      You supposedly are a former submariner, right? SSNs only forward deploy about 1/3 of the time, and don’t get “welded to the pier” except in the case of several very old boats like the Boise that have been waiting years on drydock availabilities. Our Ohio class boomers don’t forward deploy – they just go out and cruise around on standby for missile release. None are “welded to the pier”.

      LCS had one year – FY-2018 – where none foreward deployed, while the previous several years deployed each year. In FY-2019 – this year – four LCS are forward deploying. Next year about 6 will forward deploy. LCS will forward deploy approx. 1/3 of the LCS fleet each year, just like every other Navy warship type does.

      • Marc Apter

        “They are all operating weekly unless in scheduled maintenance availabilities. They’ve been extremely busy performing crew training and qualification for all the new construction ships, and testing and integration of new weapons and systems.” So they are BBF ships! The earlier ones were commissioned years ago, and they are still in that period between Fitting Out and PSA, after all these years? So again, if they can’t chase drug smugglers, at least, what is their value?

        • PolicyWonk

          Name one other program, similar to this LCS idiocy, that requires the entire fleet to remain stateside, while the crews are trained, etc.

          If the USN did this with the Virginia class SSN’s – not one patrol would have yet been conducted.

          • Duane

            Nothing requires the whole fleet to remain stateside. The whole fleet consisted of 12 ships delivered, accepted, and commissioned as of last fiscal year, and several more recently delivered but just barely so. Four of those LCS will forward deploy for combat duty this fiscal year, four more will be engaged in training and crew qualification, four of the newest are in shakedown and post-shakedown availability, and the rest are engaged in new equipment testing and integration.

            From FY-2019 and onwards permanently, LCS will forward deploy at exactly the same rate and proportions as any other US warship fleet – which is to say, about 1/3 forward deployed, 1/3 in operation stateside for training and qualifications, and the other 1/3 in regularly scheduled maintenance availabilities, including for the next 5 years, post shakedown availabilities for all the ships newly delivered.

            Just. Like. Every. Other. US Navy. Warship.

          • Marc Apter

            You sound like the PR person for the LCS Program. Curtis Conway and I are both Plank Owners on First of a Class ships, one authorized by Kennedy, and the other by Nixon/Ford, so we both know about the First of a Class Process. So instead of PR Power Point Slides to send Congress, lets just discuss facts.

          • Secundius

            And what facts would that be! The US House of Representatives passed the “LCS” class appropriations in 24 September 2003, by a 407 to 15 vote. Ant the US Senate in 25 September 2003, by a 95 to 0 vote. BOTH “Super Majority Votes” (i.e. Presidential Veto Proof) and (i.e. Presidential Executive Order Proof). It would take an Act of Congress and a Super Majority Vote by BOTH the US House of Representatives and the US Senate to CANCEL the Class Program. Which ISN’T likely to happen in YOUR Remaining Lifetime…

          • Duane

            Congress cut LCS funding in 2010, right when the block buy contracts were set to start. Congress cuts funding for the mission module development, integration, and testing virtually every year, including 2018 and 2019 – completely zeroed out in 2019. Funding was slow throughout the entire 2010s until 2017, largely due to the sequester. The same thing that caused the fleet size to drop to 268 ships in 2009, and stay down there until 2018 when ship numbers finally began to climb out of the 00s hole.

          • Secundius

            Flight I SSC (Small Surface Combatants) were funded in 2014. They have yet to be built! And NOBODY within the US Congress has tried to KILL the Program either…

          • The fact is you simply can’t compare ships commissioned 50-60 years ago to ships today. Systems are far more complex, defense spending is a fraction of what it was, and there is now vastly more regulation, “oversight,” and media attention.

            Look at the Adams-class destroyers – all 23 of them were laid down and commissioned within a 6 year span. In contrast it took 7 years to build and commission just the first 3 LCS. If you think that doesn’t have any effect on integrating new ships with the fleet I don’t know what to tell you.

          • Duane

            I’m not, I have no personal involvement in anything to do with LCS or either of the two yards that are building them. Former nuke reactor operator on a 637 class SSN, with experience both forward deployed and undergoing a mid life refueling overhaul. I know personally quite a bit about naval engineering systems .. not claiming to be the world’s greatest expert .. but I am not ignorant of how complex warships are designed, built, operated, and maintained.

            I’m dealing in facts, all of them. Not prejudices, silly comparisons to ships delivered several generations ago, and I use realistic expectations of what the Navy has had to deal with in cramped budgets dictated by Congress.

          • Curtis Conway

            We Shall See. The proof is in the pudding. Good Luck.

        • Curtis Conway

          When the USS Ticonderoga (CG-47) came out we commissioned and deployed in NINE MONTHS. There were NO PROBLEMS (show stoppers) with the system, and our 1) detect, 2) document, 3) install, fix and test, was a closed loop cycle that not only fixed our problems, but were included in the next baseline iteration, all sitting on top of a US Navy Regulation SURVIVABLE HULL, with a propulsion system second to none!

          Almost every aspect of the LCS Program has been designed from the ground up as a money saving measure, that places our sailors at greater risk, all based upon false assumptions (Speed Is Life in a 2D battle space) on something that is over 300″ long (not PT boat size). THAT is what happens when money drives the design instead of solid naval principles, written in blood, in our Navy Regulations.

          • Duane

            You cannot compare a warship commissioned in the middle of the Cold War, and in the middle of President Reagan’s/SecNav Lehman’s buildup to 600 ships, with today. Today’s military budgets, as a percentage of GDP, are less than half that of the peak Cold War era of the 1980s.

            Congressional budgets and appropriations are the single biggest reason why our Navy slid from 600 ships in 1990 to 268 ships at the end of the Bush 43 administration. Congressional budgets and the stupid sequester law specifically slowed down the buildup of the LCS fleet, and even today the appropriations law is specifically holding up final integration and testing of the ASW and MCM mission module equipment – Congress literally zeroed out all such funding in FY-2019, and nearly zeroed it out in FY-2018.

          • Curtis Conway

            “You cannot compare a warship commissioned in the middle of the Cold War” . . . I JUST DID!!! . . . WHY NOT?! Because you say so? Your $$$ argument is only partially relevant (if at all). The methodology and principles we built, trained, and tested to in Aegis is what is relevant, so what does the US Navy do . . . . they throw it away (?) after all the lessons were learned? There is no reason that success cannot be duplicated today, particularly in the FFG(X) Program.
            The LCS Program was conceived, designed and built to a budget, not a specification . . . which was constantly changing because the relevancy of the platform kept being brought into question, and every time a close scrutiny of its mission came under the microscope . . . here come another change. No principle there! How many times was it said that the LCS was a platform looking for a mission, and then the mission would be fabricated out of nowhere except self defense, and then irrelevant. Blue Water platform my . . . you know what! Escort who . . . where? Push the envelope, and not even with the same trained crew on THEIR equipment? Keep singing your song Duane. No one is listening anymore. The LCS Program has been, and will continue to be an Albatross around the US Navy’s neck in Lifetime Logistical support costs, Training costs, and maintenance cost, and not worth the return on the investment, other than being missile & torpedo sponges, and what does that say about ‘keeping the faith with our sailors’ given there level of self defense equipment?

          • PolicyWonk

            “…Almost every aspect of the LCS Program has been designed from the ground up as a money saving measure…”
            =================================
            Yet both LCS classes are appallingly expensive, horribly complex, expensive to maintain, failed to live up to the many promises made, and weren’t even designed (or constructed) as warships where it counts.

            The most expensive ships in the USN are the ones that cannot function in concert with an ARG, ESG, and CSG, or the fleet in general. And in the case with LCS – by being designed and built for the express purpose of venturing into the littorals to engage in combat, which the CNO himself said it was not.

          • Curtis Conway

            The true fallacy is their AAW defenseless nature requires them to operate in the envelope of those flotillas you just mentioned, in which they provide little . . . save a liability.

        • Duane

          No – the earliest ships have either been doing the weekly ops for training, qualification, and new equipment testing and integration, or in scheduled maintenance availabilities. The Freedom and Fort Worth both suffered engine damage in 2016 due to poor training, which poor training has since been corrected with a result of no more “engineering casualties” for the last two plus years, and are now finishing up that work.

          All of the new construction ships go through a shakedown trial, after which they enter a post-shakedown availability which is a normally scheduled evolution to both fix any issues and to install post-shakedown equipment. That is the very same process followed by all new construction warships and auxiliaries in the US Navy.

  • Duane

    The Indy variants cost more, not less, than the Freedom variants. The imbalance of buying a few more Indys likely has to do with the fact that China and the West Pac is the bigger and faster growing naval threat than the Atlantic and Middle East … and the Indy’s are going to the Indo Pac, while the Freedoms are going to the Atlantic/Middle East. Makes perfect sense, the Indy’s have significantly longer legs than the Freedoms.

    • DaSaint

      Incorrect regarding price. For competition reasons the US Navy has not announced the actual contract value but has stated that award is under the congressional cost cap of US$584 million per ship.

  • PolicyWonk

    “To be awarded two more LCS contracts before the end of the year is beyond exciting,” Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle said in the statement.
    =======================================
    Corporate welfare program payoffs are *always* exciting (for the recipients)!

    If only these “littoral combat pier queens” could truly add to the USN’s combat “assets” instead of high-cost “liabilities”.

    • Curtis Conway

      Even when they are not pier queens, they are an inviting target. Shooting one of them is like an artillery barrage over the infantry . . . it will tie up a lot of resources because it cannot help itself, contrary to surface combatant design rules prior to the 1980s.

      • Duane

        Poppycock. LCS are the world’s most heavily defended littoral warships, bar none, no other comes remotely close in its multiple layers of cutting edge technology defenses and offenses.

        • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

          #TopSatire

        • Bubblehead

          LOL there are only two different classes of Littoral Combat ships in the world and no the US LCS is less heavily armed than the other. So they are the 2nd (of two).

    • Duane

      You never tire of your dishonest slander. You are lying.

  • Curtis Conway

    It’s as if we live in Never Never Land, and all reason has escaped the ‘Powers that be’. Jobs program pure and simple. We need our new FFG(X) multi-warfare Frigate, and its time to go Directed Energy. Make sure those cable-ways are big to handle the current (electrical power) that is to come, and get the most efficient Gas Turbine Motor-Generator Sets out in our newest platforms ASAP.

    • Bubblehead

      Im thinking the only way to destroy these upcoming boost-glide hypersonics is with a super powerful laser. Otherwise you will shooting 3 or 4, 4 million dollar a piece SM6 type missiles and crossing your fingers to get a kill. I know they said it will take a minimum of 150kw lasers to start thinking about dealing with ASCM’s and aircraft. I assume you would probably need even more for a hypersonic given its speed, maneuverability and its ability already to deal with extreme heat?

      • Secundius

        It would probably be the SAME with a Laser, during the Terminal Trajectory of a Hypersonic Missile! A Hypersonic Reentries surrounding Air (i.e. Lower Atmosphere) is Ionized, blocking any known Electromagnetic Frequency (i.e. Laser) from reaching the Threat Missile. Consider the “Blackout Phase” of any Spacecraft entering the atmosphere where ALL Radar and Communications signals are lost…

        • Curtis Conway

          it may be time to bring back the tactical nuclear warhead for such instances, if in fact we cannot employ a plasma weapon against said target.

          • Secundius

            As I recall, the M-388 “W54” used by the M29 “Davy Crockett” had a 0.3-kiloton warhead…

          • Curtis Conway

            In the early days of the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History in Albuquerque, I got to pet one. You are not allowed to walk over the cordon now. That warhead, or a modern construct of same would be about right. It would be an air-burst and timing is critical. Make a good efficient and clean warhead for the ESSM & Standard Missiles. Nuc certification of the magazines would return to most platforms. Boy . . . the crews would have to get serious then. Used to be in that business.

          • Secundius

            Nice! Was trying to find Florida based company that specializes in making Reproduction Inert Military Weapons (i.e. Mk.16 16-inch Naval Projectiles and Missiles). So far nothing. Maybe I’ll try “Military Collectibles” to see what they have to offer…

          • Curtis Conway

            The museum might be a resource.

          • Secundius

            I was seeing if there is a Reproduction M29 “Davy Crockett” Recoilless Rifle available. “Military Collectibles” specializes in Reproductions for Military Reenactors and Collectors. The Florida base company, constructs scaled down WWII Battleships, ~20 to 30-feet long for “Terrorizing” Boaters and Fisherman on Lakes and Rivers…

          • Secundius

            Looks like the US Senate is keeping the US Government open through 8 February 2019, avoiding a Presidential Shut Down. US.Hse.of Rep. vote was 266 to 150 and US Senate 81 to 18 (i.e. Super Majority)…

        • Bubblehead

          Being unable to cummunicate using RF and a 150KW laser not beig able to penetrate are quite different beasts. They are at opposite ends of the frequency spectrum or in this case wavelength spectrum.

          Im no NASA engineer but I would be very surprised if a 150KW laser was unable to penetrate and damage a hypersonic. The time it takes and the distance are the main issues.

          • Secundius

            Blackout works both way! Hypersonic Missile has to slow down to acquire target by onboard detection system. Which makes it vulnerable to Laser…

      • Curtis Conway

        There are 100Kw units under test as we speak, and I have heard of 150Kw units that are soon to test, if not actually under test. For a properly constructed surface combatant that has the power generation capability, energy storage space for the capacitors that drive the discharge, and the spot already present for installation of said units and their follow-ons, is the solution. FFG(X) is our opportunity. If properly constructed and equipped, multiple unit engagement would be possible most of the time. Four units on the 02-level or better, on the four corners of the forward Mack would do it. Sometimes one could get three units engaging a single target for an instant. Dual illumination would be most of the time, and one unit could always illuminate any target anywhere. The key would be to develop and field the Passive detection, tracking, and fire control system. Each Laser has a co-located WESCAM MX-15 mounted above and behind it (hanging) to facilitate the laser to shoot vertically if required. All optical devices will have to have a ready safing mechanism (LO/TO) and maintenance activity probably daily. That provides eight optical devices (the lasers are included) to track and provide fire control to (or in four instances engage) approaching targets in a priority basis based upon CPA and range rate. Add two more MX-20s sitting as high as possible fore and aft and we have ten targets to watch/engage. The MX-15/20s can provide fire control for Hydra (short range)/ Zuni (longer range with bigger bang) rockets with APKWS.

        The vessel still needs a SIMONE (Ship Infrared Monitoring, Observation and Navigation Equipment), stand-alone if necessary, just to navigate passively safely in an EMCON environment. SIMONE can be integrated with the Combat System with time, or make it selective. I would build an LBTS near an airport near a harbor on the coast in Maine perhaps, and develop the system for the platforms. Our little FFG(X) platform can turn into the GO TO platform for all missions except IAMD and Land Attack.

  • Adrian Ah

    It’s weird. The USNI did not mention that the LCS had successfully tested the Hellfire missile module on speedboats beginning of Dec. it was some rare good news.

    It was reported at n.a.v.y.t.i.m.e.s dec 5th

    Oddly, my comment about this has been deleted twice so far.

    • Secundius

      USS Freedom made Three Drug Busts off Columbian Coast during Sea Trails in 2010, which was reported in “Military Times”. I suspect not many heard about that either…

      • PolicyWonk

        I certainly heard about it – but it didn’t impress me much. We have far older USCG assets that do that job routinely.

        • Secundius

          How many of those USCG assets were capable of exceeding 45-kts. Because USS Freedom was Helicopter “Lite”…

          • PolicyWonk

            None. And none of them needed to be.

            The USN has yet to explain the requirement for 45 knots, especially given the staggering cost and complexity of the propulsion system required to attain it.

            Killing a flies with sledge hammers might be fun, but its not cost effective. And according to the USN, neither is LCS.

          • Secundius

            All Three captures were Columbian “Go-Fast’s”, 45-knot capable speed boats with 500-kilo Cocaine Bundles. In all three incidents, USS Freedom out ran them in chase…

          • PolicyWonk

            So what? its an appalling waste of money and resources to blow over $900M on a commercial grade, ultra complex, high maintenance, and notoriously unreliable yacht conversion when the same money could be far better used elsewhere.

            For example: we could by 9 Sentinel-class cutters for the same money, get far better coverage, and a lot more use out of them.

          • Secundius

            Live with it! There NOT going to get Cancelled anytime soon and/or in your remaining lifetime!!! The US House of Representatives passed funding for the “Littorals” on 24 September 2003, with a 407 to 15 Vote. And the US Senate on 25 September 2003, with a 95 to 0 Vote. BOTH “Super Majority Votes”, i.e. Presidential Veto Proof and Presidential Executive Order Proof. It would take and Act of the US Congress to Nullify Funding of the Classes. And with the Current “Republican” controlled US Congress, IT AIN’T HAPPENING. The US. Hse.of Rep. Republican’s with a Clear Majority CAN’T muster enough votes for a “Simple Majority Vote (218) without Democratic Help. The “SSC’s” were Funded in 2014, ALSO by Super Majority Votes…

          • PolicyWonk

            The program was cancelled by the USN, and you’ll have to live with that. These floating corporate welfare programs do nothing to add to the fleet count, as $36B was wasted. The PEO LCS intentionally LIED to the HoR’s and taxpayers to get these deathtraps built, and blood will be on the hands of the criminals that infested that PEO.

            The LCS program is going to continue, but not for ANY of the right reasons. The taxpayers hard-earned cash is in effect being wasted, and the ROI is by any measure dismal.

            But given the lousy ROI, appalling lack of reliability, and the fact that other navies ships of half (let alone comparable) tonnage are vastly better armed/protected than LCS will ever be (and our sailors aren’t nearly as stupid as you, Laz, and the Bathtub Admiral think), because they are all acutely aware that if they end up in a shooting situation with a peer (or near-peer) opponent, they’re probably not coming out on top.

            By the time the mission packages are ready, the LCS fleet will already be going through midlife upgrades, with their slot at the scrapyard arranged. It is doubtful they’ll ever live up to even a decent fraction of the many broken design promises, and therefore will be disposed of early.

            Its quite telling that you support ordering US sailors out to sea, at a clear disadvantage, before they even leave the dock.

          • Secundius

            This is 2018, almost 2019 and the SSC’s were funded in 2014. And have yet to be built. There not going anywhere either. You want a 355-Ship Navy! Guess what kind of Vessel that can be Mass Produced in ~6-months time is going to FILL that role. The “AB’s” or FFG(X)’s, doubtful. The LCS’s and SSC’s…

          • PolicyWonk

            We all knew Ray Mabus was an LCS fan-boy, and one of the lousiest SecNav’s in the history of the position. So no surprise.

            You want a 355-ship navy? Then you build battle-capable platforms designed and built to survive: not lousy quality, commercial-grade, horrifyingly complex, glorified, ferry and yacht conversions that can’t fight, protect themselves, or take battle damage.

            That additional sea-frames the USN doesn’t want and are yet to be built isn’t anything to brag about: the wanton waste of taxpayer dollars that does nothing for national defense is something normal people find deeply troubling.

          • Secundius

            I’d rather see a 1,000-ship Navy! But unfortunately without Compulsory Service or a Draft, there won’t be one…

          • PolicyWonk

            You and I both (I could be convinced that the USCG should retain the “presence” missions, with subsequent adjustments in budget and force sizes).

            Indeed, but that would mean the draft would have to be reinstated, and tax cuts rescinded, all the way back to Bush II.

          • Secundius

            Last “New Draft Bill” was introduced by the US. Hse.of Rep. in November 2017, and DIED a Quick Death by those that Introduced the Draft Bill in the first place. As far as the USCG, Donald Trump has been Bleeding the USCG for Border Security and Alien Detention Centers. I suspect that why the last USCG Commandant was replaced, because he wouldn’t play “Trump T-Ball”…

            ( https : // www . washingtonpost . com / news / checkpoint / wp / 2018 / 06 / 22 / trump – administration – plans – to – use – coast – guard – money – to – pay – for – border – enforcement / ?noredirect = on )

          • PolicyWonk

            I’m well aware the last draft bill died. But given the population growth in the USA is WAY down the recruiting problems we have now will be aggravated further.

            Out of the current crop of those in the enlistment age range:
            – Over 30% are too obese
            – Remove those going to college, or trade schools
            – Remove those who won’t join the military for religious/objector reasons
            – Remove those disinterested in the military at all
            – Remove those with criminal/drug/violent records

            The remainder is what the DoD has to compete for.

            I fully believe that we’re going to have to reinstate the draft at some point, or otherwise require some kind of national service (2 years military, 3 years other national service for objectors, etc.).

            When is the only question.

          • Secundius

            In other words “Bring back the Press Gangs”…

          • Curtis Conway

            Our problem is the dead sailors deployed on them can’t live with it because they will not be able to adequately defend themselves. Congress is preserving jobs at the expense of our most precious blood.

          • Secundius

            How many Sailors have DIED on either LCS classes compared to those that have DIED serving on “Arleigh Burke’s”…

      • Bubblehead

        That is about the only thing the LCS is good for. And the entire fleet of pier queen LCS’s should sail and capture more drugs.

  • DaSaint

    From another site:

    For competition reasons the US Navy has not announced the actual contract value but has stated that award is under the congressional cost cap of US$584 million per ship.

    “This latest order from the US Navy is a tremendous endorsement of Austal’s unique aluminum trimaran and further evidence of the important role Austal plays in building the United States Navy” Austal CEO, David Singleton said.

    “We have been very successful, winning two Littoral Combat Ships per annum in competitions in each of the last three US Government financial years. This has been achieved as a result of a highly focused and successful program of production efficiency at our shipyard in Alabama and is a credit to that team”

    “The award of LCS 36 and 38 will mean that Austal has a forward order book of a further ten ships to deliver in a continuous production program that now extends out to 2025. This strong order book creates continuity and certainty of workload for the Austal workforce in Alabama who have achieved so much. For our shareholders, the order book will drive continued growth in earnings over the next few years”

    What struck me here was that their order book is solid to 2025. If the FFG(X) contract is to be issued in 2020, they’re not going to have existing capacity to build something else, unless they either build new covered bays or use the bays for the EPFs for the FFG(X).

    • Secundius

      Federation of American Scientists places the price of both Austal-USA vessels at ~$642,6-Million USD each…

  • old guy

    Mightn’t it be a bright idea to quit this travesty, and use the money to build a couple of Russian-like, nuclear powered REAL Icebreakers?

    • Secundius

      Oh, Please! Political BS. The Canadian Coast Guard took delivery of it First Medium Icebreaker in 25-years, on 18 December 2018. The “Myrtle “Molly” Kool” with 2 more to follow in 2019 and 2020, with the Canadian Heavy Icebreaker “John G. Diefenbacker” in 2019. ALL with a Canadian Coast Guard budget ~37.68% that of the USCG for 2018. And NONE of them are Nuclear-Powered…