A House panel backed Navy plans for four added Littoral Combat Ships even as lawmakers chided the Navy for a failure to better communicate about the program’s cost, schedule and performance.
The Navy requested $2.24 billion for the ships, including $429.4 million in development funds. The Littoral Combat Ship is intended to clear mines, hunt for submarines and provide humanitarian relief in shallow coastal waters. The Navy may have 55 ships in the class, about 17 percent of a fleet with aircraft carriers, destroyers and amphibious assault ships.
The House Armed Services seapower panel yesterday approved the funding, part of a $37 billion program, while adopting an amendment demanding a complete briefing 30 days after the annual defense authorization measure is signed into law.
“The committee believes that the Navy has not adequately informed Congress to the full extent possible on program deficiencies, including mechanical and structural failures,” according to the amendment by Representative Duncan Hunter, a California Republican. The full committee will review the amendment next week when it considers action on the entire defense budget.
The amendment “is connected to the recurring problems that have been well known for quite some time” in the program, Joe Kaspar, a spokesman for Hunter, said yesterday in an e-mail. Hunter previously requested a Government Accountability Office report on the project’s difficulties.
The Project on Government Oversight, a nonpartisan government oversight group, issued a report this week based on year-old Navy documents that provided additional details on cracks, flooding and corrosion with the first vessel, built by Lockheed’s team. The Navy said those flaws have been corrected.
“There are still serious problems with the LCS, and if the Navy’s truly committed to the plan, then all this needs to be straightened out,” Kaspar said. “Otherwise, the LCS remains an acquisition headache.”
Navy spokeswoman Captain Cate Mueller declined to comment on Hunter’s amendment.
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