U.S. Navy Cancels LCS 4
By ZACHARY M. PETERSON
Posted 11/01/07 15:22
The U.S. Navy announced Nov. 1 it had canceled the fourth Littoral Combat Ship in the service’s latest dose of tough love to shipbuilders.
Over the past months, the Navy has halved its orders for the small, next-generation ships; Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics now are building one LCS sea frame each, based on separate designs. Originally the contractors were to build two apiece.
The Navy cited cost overruns on LCS 2, now under construction by General Dynamics at Austal USA’s shipyard in Mobile, Ala., as the main reason for the cancellation of the second General Dynamics ship, LCS 4. The Navy terminated the contract for Lockheed Martin’s second sea frame, LCS 3, in the spring.
“The Navy worked closely with General Dynamics to try to restructure the agreement for LCS 4 to more equitably balance cost and risk but could not come to terms and conditions that were acceptable to both parties,” the Navy said in a statement issued by Navy Secretary Donald C. Winter and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead.
Nonetheless, Winter restated the Navy’s commitment to the LCS platform.
“LCS continues to be a critical warfighting requirement for our Navy to maintain dominance in the littorals and strategic choke points around the world,” Winter said. “While this is a difficult decision, we recognize that active oversight and strict cost controls in the early years are necessary to ensuring we can deliver these ships to the fleet over the long term,” he said in the statement.
Originally priced at $233 million apiece, the Navy has acknowledged that LCS costs have ballooned between 50 percent and 75 percent.
Senate appropriators slashed funding for the second General Dynamics-built ship Sept. 12 in their version of the fiscal 2008 defense spending bill.
In their report accompanying the bill, Senate appropriators said LCS 1 and 2, named Freedom and Independence, should be delivered to the Navy next summer, and that the Navy should decide which variety to build by the end of 2008. The committee also directed the Navy to produce “a new acquisition strategy for the future procurement of the LCS class.”
The House version of the bill, which was passed this summer, cut $571 million from the program for 2008 — reducing funding to $339.5 million. The money and materiel from previous years would be used to build a single LCS, according to House lawmakers.
Differences between the House and Senate versions of the spending bill are to be resolved in committee.