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August 5, 2015

GAO: Littoral Combat Ship Too Fat

The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) departs San Diego Bay for deployment to the Asia-Pacific region last year in San Diego, Calif. (Christine Walker-Singh/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

The littoral combat ship USS Freedom, LCS 1, departs San Diego Bay for deployment to the Asia-Pacific region last year in San Diego, Calif. (Christine Walker-Singh/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

Moving from the construction phase into testing, it turns out the littoral combat ship has gotten too heavy, and that has slowed it down, according to the Government Accountability Office.

The LCS is a reconfigurable Navy vessel that can be focused on surface warfare, mine countermeasures and anti-submarine warfare. The GAO report on the LCS released Wednesday is a public version of one deemed too sensitive for public distribution, and that was sought by the fiscal 2014 defense policy law.

“Outstanding weight management and concurrency risks related to buying ships while key concepts and performance are still being tested continue to complicate LCS acquisitions,” the report summary states. “Initial LCS seaframes face capability limitations resulting from weight growth during construction. This weight growth has resulted in the first two ships not meeting performance requirements for sprint speed and/or endurance, as well as potentially complicating existing plans to make additional changes to each seaframe design.”

And that’s not the only related issue, which included mechanical problems, the potential for less service life and more.

“The Navy has not received accurate or complete weight reports from the seaframe prime contractors, and the Navy’s lengthy review process has hindered a timely resolution of the Navy’s concerns,” the report states. “Additionally, a number of significant test events, including rough water, shock and total ship survivability trials, will not be completed in time to inform upcoming acquisition decisions—including future contract decisions.”

The report notes that ship weight growth during construction is nothing new, but given the LCS’ mission it can ill afford the extra poundage.

The Defense Department agreed with the GAO recommendation to “ensure a timely review of contractor seaframe weight reports and take actions to make contractors more responsive to comments on the reports’ content,” but partially disagreed with a recommendation to “demonstrate certain capabilities for both LCS seaframe variants before the Navy is approved for future contract awards,” saying it would do as much testing as possible but not all of it prior to contract awards.

This is not the first unflattering GAO report on the vessel, which also has come under fire from groups that seek reduced government spending.

Comments (27)

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  1. voodkokk

    July 31, 2014
    7:52 a.m.

    “The Navy has not received accurate or complete weight reports from the seaframe prime contractors, and the Navy’s lengthy review process has hindered a timely resolution of the Navy’s concerns,” the report states. “Additionally, a number of significant test events, including rough water, shock and total ship survivability trials, will not be completed in time to inform upcoming acquisition decisions—including future contract decisions.”

    Well, looks like they should put the “future contract decisions” on hold until they get the “accurate and complete weight reports”. Get a number and striped suit ready for the person(s) that approve this acquisition without the required data.

  2. CDLC

    July 31, 2014
    8:25 a.m.

    “The Navy has not received accurate or complete weight reports from the seaframe prime contractors, and the Navy’s lengthy review process has hindered a timely resolution of the Navy’s concerns,”

    I have an issue with this. How is it the manufacturer of the sea frame cannot provide accurate statistics of their products? Especially something as sensitive as this involving high degrees of mathematical physics-based calculations? This thing is becoming a heache. But ill admit, it’s a pretty nice looking one…

    • Carroll Barber

      Sept. 11, 2014
      7:01 p.m.

      Throw out the computers and bring back the old slide rule…. :)

  3. BubbaLama

    July 31, 2014
    10:16 a.m.

    Strip these skiffs and convert them into artificial reefs. These pigs are the F-35s of the fleet. Dump the program and investigate the prime contractors.

  4. john

    July 31, 2014
    3:38 p.m.

    Sigh. The Defense Department is acting like an individual investor frozen because of specific investment losses. No action is possible, even when cut and run is the obvious best tactic. Better just to abandon bad decisions quickly and move on to more promising investments.

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