U.S. Navy Orders Two More Littoral Combat Ships

By CHRISTOPHER P. CAVAS
Published: 17 Mar 2011 20:35

The U.S. Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship program continued its shift into series production with the announcement March 17 that two more ships have been ordered.

The announcement follows by less than three months the previous award of two ships on Dec. 29.

Under the new contracts, Lockheed Martin received a $376.6 million contract modification to build the yet-to-be-named LCS 7. Based on the steel-hull design of LCS 1, the ship will be built at Fincantieri’s Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wis. The work is expected to be completed by April 2016.

Austal USA’s deal is for $368.6 million for LCS 8. Austal builds its LCS 2-class all-aluminum ships at Mobile, Ala., and work on that contract is expected to be completed by October 2015.

The contract awarded Dec. 29 to Lockheed for LCS 5 was for $437 million, while Austal’s LCS 6 contract was for $432 million.

The contracts are far below the congressional cost cap of $480 million for LCS ships. Sean Stackley, the Navy’s top acquisition official, said at the time of the December contract award that the average per-ship target price for Lockheed ships is $362 million, with a goal of $352 million for each Austal ship.

Congress on Dec. 21 approved the Navy’s request to buy more ships of each design, shifting from the earlier plan to choose a single type. The Dec. 29 contracts to each shipbuilding team were for one ship, paid for with 2010 funds, with options for nine more. The March contracts are the first options to be exercised, and are funded under the 2011 continuing resolutions, which continue programs that were in effect the previous year.

Fort Worth (LCS 3) was launched Dec. 4 at the Marinette shipyard. Austal plans to launch the Coronado (LCS 4) this year.

Freedom (LCS 1), commissioned in November 2008 as the first Lockheed LCS, is at its home port of San Diego undergoing an overhaul, according to the Navy. The Independence (LCS 2), the first of Austal’s breed, was commissioned in January 2010 and is undergoing tests and trials at Mayport, Fla.

The Navy intends to field a total fleet of 55 LCS ships.

Source : DefenseNews

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