Friday, March 16, 2007

LCS restructured

LMT has received a stay of execution.
The Navy plans to slow and restructure its troubled Littoral Combat Ship program, shifting more than $500 million appropriated last year for the purchase of two ships to help offset cost overruns on four others.
At a minimum, production shifts by two units to the right - but that is the best case scenario for LMT and LCS.
Winter said he hopes to strike a deal with Lockheed Martin before the stop-work order expires April 12.
LMT still has some 'splain'n to do. Why? Well, let's head over to The Hill.
Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter offered Lockheed Martin the option of accepting a fixed-price contract for the troubled Littoral Combat Ship, which has been plagued by large cost overruns, according to a senior House Armed Services member.

“[Secretary] Winter is giving Lockheed Martin an offer they can’t refuse,” Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), chairman of the Seapower and Expeditionary Forces subcommittee, told The Hill.
GD should take note.
If General Dynamics can meet the Navy's cost objectives for LCS-2, the Navy will continue construction of LCS-4 under the current cost plus contract it has with the company, the Navy spokesman said. If there is , however, a trend of escalating costs, the Navy would go into negotiation with General Dynamics.
Offers you can't refuse.

Let's go back to the Virginia Pilot story.
The two builders are using different designs, but Winter said Thursday that the Navy will shift to a single design for Littoral Combat Ship purchases beginning in 2010. The Lockheed Martin design is a sleek monohull while the General Dynamics ship is a trimaran.
The deciding factor now will be cost, cost, and cost. Has to be.
Navy leaders hope to buy 55 such ships by 2016 and to make them the workhorses of the U.S. fleet.
That was based on the old cost. Remember, we are in a non-Navy war right now. If you increase the costs of your ships by 70%, without shifting costs from other programs or a significant increase in shipbuilding budgets - you simple are not going to get to 55. You will be lucky to get half.

The cost per hull increases are not over. Next Monday's post on LCS (got'ta keep 'ya hang'n) will tell you why.
"It is imperative that the Navy deliver this warship class and its important capabilities to the fleet as soon as possible," said Adm. Mike Mullen, the chief of naval operations, in a written statement released by the service. "It is just as imperative that we do so in the most cost effective manner possible."
Sir, it was important that we didn't ignore the reality of building warships and global production benchmarks when we started this program. Instead of reality, we unquestionably smoked the crack of PPT briefs by contractors and consultants based on unrealistic and unchallenged thinking, "Blue Sky" vignettes with no root in reality, "Happy Talk," and the false promise of "Transformation."

In a different era, we did not go from the pre-Dreadnought to the Iowa Class overnight - but we all of a sudden in our arrogance think we can do in now? On the cheap?
The program was the signature initiative of Mullen's predecessor, now-retired Adm. Vern Clark, who envisioned the new ships as critical to the war on terrorism. While the Navy typically takes a decade or more to design and develop the lead ship in a new class, the first Littoral Combat Ship is to be delivered just more than five years after Clark launched the program.
But it is ours for fix. This is a good start. Let's learn.

Even better; Congress needs to change the rules in a few places. For starts - never again should a CNO do a quick turnover from the office to the food trough.

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