The Navy has issued a $1.295 billion contract modification to HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding for the detail design and construction of LPD-32, the last San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock under the service’s current budget plans.
The contract, announced Friday, follows a $240 million advanced procurement award issued to Ingalls last June for long-lead items.
“This program is strong and has enabled the Department of Navy and Ingalls to establish a formidable capability based on a mature design, an ever-increasingly efficient production line, and a team of shipbuilders that keep the Navy’s critical industrial base network across the country strong,” Ingalls president Kari Wilkinson said in a statement.
The contract modification comes as the Navy conducts a “strategic pause” on buying more amphibious ships so it can look for ways to save money on the LPD-17 Flight II line. The Office of the Secretary of Defense directed the pause.
“This program is strong and has enabled the Department of Navy and Ingalls to establish a formidable capability based on a mature design, an ever-increasingly efficient production line, and a team of shipbuilders that keep the Navy’s critical industrial base network across the country strong.”
Last year, the Navy in its Fiscal Year 2023 budget proposal announced it would end the LPD-17 Flight II line after purchasing LPD-32. But the Marine Corps quickly placed LPD-33 at the top of its unfunded priorities, winning support from lawmakers, who appropriated and authorized advanced procurement funding for LPD-33 in the FY 2023 spending and policy bills.
Despite Congressional action, the Navy in its FY 2024 proposal released earlier this month did not show the service purchasing any more LPDs in the five-year budget outlook.
During testimony this week, the Navy’s acting acquisition chief argued the service has time to reassess costs for LPDs because it would buy the next ship in FY 2025, adhering to recommendations from industry that the Navy purchase them every two years to maintain the workforce and supply chain.
“There is a period where we can look at a more affordable way potentially to build those. We don’t need to build one in ’24. We can take some time to see if there’s a more affordable way to build those before we buy the ’25 ship, sir,” told Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) during a Senate Armed Services seapower subcommittee hearing this week.
But the current five-year outlook does not show the Navy buying any amphibs in FY 2025. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger has said the Navy already achieved as much cost savings as possible when it chose to pursue the slimmed-down LPD-17 Flight II design over a new amphibious ship.