Thursday, November 01, 2007

No more LCS-4

Told you so. Money talks.
Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead announced today that the Department of the Navy is terminating construction of the fourth littoral combat ship (LCS 4) for convenience under the termination clause of the contract because the Navy and General Dynamics could not reach agreement on the terms of a modified contract.

The Navy had not yet authorized construction on LCS 4, following a series of cost overruns on LCS 2. The Navy intended to begin construction of LCS 4 if the Navy and General Dynamics could agree on the terms for a fixed-price incentive agreement. 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 remains committed to the LCS program. “LCS continues to be a critical warfighting requirement for our Navy to maintain dominance in the littorals and strategic choke points around the world,” said Winter. “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.”

“I am absolutely committed to the Littoral Combat Ship,” said Roughead. “We need this ship. It is very important that our acquisition efforts produce the right littoral combat ship capability to the fleet at the right cost.”
I won't argue with the CNO, but, um , ... heh.

Speaking of a Fleet we cannot afford,
House and Senate negotiators on the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill are at odds over a provision in the House-passed measure that would require the Navy to make its future fleet of surface combatants nuclear powered.

The Navy is building nuclear aircraft carriers and submarines, but the House language would establish that it is the "policy of the United States" to use nuclear power for all major vessels, including destroyers and cruisers.
For a rare moment, I find myself in agreement with Sen. Webb (D-VA).
Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., another Armed Services Committee member and a former Navy secretary, said he generally supported using nuclear energy on large vessels, but was opposed to issuing a mandate to the Navy that the service may not be able to carry out.

"In theory I support it," Webb said. "The question is the practicality."
Sen. Collins (R-ME) is right on target as well.
The up-front costs of nuclear-powered vessels are estimated at $600 million to $800 million more per ship than conventionally powered vessels.

"It is considerably more expensive to build a nuclear-powered ship in the first place," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a senior member of the Armed Services Committee. "Given that we are already underfunding shipbuilding, I'm concerned that that means we'll be further away from reaching the [Navy's] goal of a 313-ship fleet."
Yep. 200 and change is looking more and more like it. Contract building VISBY or NANSEN not that far out of the box now, is it?

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