Navy Official: LCS Cost Reduction ‘Hull Over Hull’
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy’s deputy in charge of the littoral combat ship (LCS) program said the service is achieving cost reductions with each hull as it is completed, accompanied by progressively fewer discrepancies noted in acceptance trials.
The LCS program is achieving “cost reduction hull over hull,” Neal White, the Navy’s deputy program manager for the LCS program, said Jan. 11 to an audience at the Surface Navy Association National Symposium.
In recent years, each ship has been delivered to the Navy at progressively lower cost, all within the congressionally imposed 2010 cap of $480 million per ship. The cost includes government-furnished equipment and applies to both variants of the LCS.
Neal said the material condition of each hull as it is delivered is “showing upward trends,” with ship performance in the trials by the Navy’s Bureau of Inspection and Survey showing reductions in discrepancies.
The LCS builders, Lockheed Martin and Austal USA, have delivered 11 ships, with 18 more under contract and two more planned in the fiscal 2018 budget. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2018 authorized a third LCS for 2018, but the 2018 buy awaits appropriation. If the third 2018 ship is funded, it would bring total production of the LCS to 32 ships.
The LCS program has been incorporating changes in the design as the lessons learned in operations are absorbed. Of the Freedom variant:
■ LCS 5 is being modified with habitability improvements and the ability to stow an 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB).
■ LCS 9 is the first to be built that incorporated the fixes to the high-speed clutch failure problem, which has slowed delivery of subsequent ships as the shipyard worked to incorporate the fixes.
■ LCS 17 will be the first to incorporate the TRS-4D radar and a SeaRAM missile launcher in lieu of a RAM launcher.
■ LCS 23 will be the first Freedom ship to replace the 5.5-meter RHIB with a 7-meter RHIB.
■ LCS 27 will be built with space to incorporate the future Over-the-Horizon (OTH) Missile planned for the LCS.
Of the Independence variant:
■ LCS 6 is being modified with habitability improvements and bridge wings.
■ LCS 22 will be delivered with habitability improvements; increased magazine protection; a shock-hardened water system; installation of the Lightweight Tow assembly; and space for the future OTH missile.