Congress is asking for additional oversight of the Littoral Combat Ship program as part of the Fiscal Year 2014 defense authorization bill, ahead of a planned Fiscal Year 2015 block buy for 20 more of the ships. Read More
From the Congressional Research Service Sept. 27, 2013 Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) report:The LCS program has become controversial due to past cost growth, design and construction issues with the lead ships built to each design, concerns over the ships’ ability to withstand battle damage, and concerns over whether the ships are sufficiently armed and would be able to perform their stated missions effectively. Some observers, citing one or more of these issues, have proposed truncating the LCS program to either 24 ships (i.e., stopping procurement after procuring all the ships covered under the two block buy contracts) or to some other number well short of 52. Other observers have proposed down selecting to a single LCS design (i.e., continuing production of only one of the two designs) after the 24th ship. Read More
The Navy is considering increasing the crew sizes for both variants of the Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) by 2015, according to a July report obtained by USNI News based on the early data from the current deployment of USS Freedom (LCS-1) and tests aboard USS Independence (LCS-2).
The report — prepared on the Office of Chief of Operations (OPNAV) surface warfare office — recommends the Navy add accommodations to berth 98 crewmembers ahead of a 2014 study that could increase the crew’s size. Read More
The world is a dynamic and uncertain place where threats can come from anywhere. Accordingly, the U.S. Navy’s missions have evolved to include defeating terrorists, pirates and illegal traffickers; preparing to counter mines and armed small boats; providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief; and building partnerships to take on maritime-security missions. Read More
A long-awaited report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says “a pause is needed,” in the Navy’s acquisition of both variants of the littoral combat ship (LCS) until the service proves it has overcome the myriad difficulties it has had fielding the ships and their three proposed mission packages, which allow the ships to act as either minesweepers, sub-hunters, or close-to-shore combatants. Read More
USS Freedom (LCS-1) is back underway following a Saturday failure of the ships electrical generators that robbed the ship of propulsion power, Navy officials told USNI News on Wednesday.
According to the service, two of the four of the ships Isotta Fraschini V1708 diesel electrical generators overheated and shutdown. The generators provide electrical power to the ship’s systems that can affect the ship’s propulsion. Read More
Congress will likely hold hearings on the state of the Littoral Combat Ship program, Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) , the chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection forces, told reporters on Tuesday.
“We are going to do some intensive oversight of this program, which will include hearings,” Forbes said in a report from Reuters.
The hearings are prompted by an anticipated Government Accountability Office report that will likely advise Congress to slow down acquisition of the program so the ships and the planned mission packages.
“I have felt that LCS had bumps in the road but it was moving. The only thing that’s really raising this flag is what this GAO report may or may not say,” Forbes said.
Excerpts of a draft GAO LCS report have appeared in several press outlets. The draft recommends Congress slow down acquisition of the ships and the mission packages pending further study.
“The apparent disconnect between the LCS acquisition strategy and the needs of the end user suggests that a pause is needed,” a draft of the GAO report was quoted in a Friday Bloomberg story. “Congress is in a position to slow funding… pending the results of the technical studies that are already underway.”
The U.S. Navy currently plans to acquire 52 LCS hulls to round out the low-end of the Navy’s surface combatant roster. The two hulls being built — Lockheed Martin’s Freedom-class and Austal USA’s Independence-class — are part of a dual acquisition strategy formulated in 2010. After a fierce competition between Austal’s aluminum trimaran and Lockheed’s steel mono-hull design, the Navy elected to buy both versions in a deal for 20 ships with an estimated value of $8.9 billion.
In addition to four ships the Navy funded outside of the 2010 deal, the Navy’s current plan is to buy 24 ships with both hulls.
In November, Vice Adm. Tom Copeman, commander of U.S. Surface Forces, sent a classified memo to Navy leadership that advised narrowing down to a single LCS design modified to carry more weapons than the current version or an entirely new class of ship.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel spoke highly of the Littoral Combat Ship program and forward deployment over the weekend despite reports that the Government Accountability Office will advise Congress to slow procurement of the ships and mission packages, according to a Friday report from Bloomberg.
“We appreciate your good work,” Hagel told the crew of USS Freedom (LCS-1) said. “What you represent to our country and our partnerships in the Asia-Pacific I don’t think can be overstated. You are really defining a new era of partnership.”
Over the weekend Hagel praised the planned forward deployment four LCS as part of the Pentagon’s rebalance to the Pacific as part of the International Institute for Strategic Studies Asia Security Summit — also known as the Shangri-La dialogue. Read More
In the next year the Navy will begin competition for the follow on sonar and surface-to-surface missile system for the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Surface Warfare (SuW) mission packages of the Littoral Combat Ship, Capt. John Ailes, head of the LCS mission module program for Naval Sea Systems Command said at a briefing at the Navy League Sea Air Space Exposition 2013 at National Harbor, Md. Read More