House Appropriators Match Authorizers To Fund Three LCS

The House Appropriations Committee’s draft FY 2019 Defense Appropriations bill funds 12 Navy ships at $22.7 billion, including three Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs).

This is nearly a billion dollars more than the Navy’s FY ’19 shipbuilding budget request of $21.9 billion (Defense Daily, Feb. 12).

The Littoral Combat Ship USS Freedom (LCS-1). Photo: U.S. Navy

The Littoral Combat Ship USS Freedom (LCS-1). Photo: U.S. Navy

The appropriations panel released the subcommittee draft on Wednesday before it takes up consideration of the bill on Thursday. Overall, the bill would keep many Navy procurement provisions House authorizers favored in their FY ’19 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was passed two weeks ago.

The Navy’s FY ’19 budget request only included one LCS to complete its total planned 32 LCSs before moving on to 20 future frigates (FFG(X)). The Navy mapped out this plan in its last force structure assessment (FSA), which called for reaching 52 total small surface combatants made of LCS and FFG(X). The single LCS would be the 32nd vessel.

House authorizers balked at only buying one more LCS in FY ’19 because of fears that pausing production lines at the one of the two LCS shipyards could reduce the chance of favorable pricing in the FFG(X) competition (Defense Daily, April 25).

This bill also funds three Arleigh Burke-class DDG-51 destroyers; two Virginia-class SSN-774 attack submarines; one Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB); two John Lewis-class TA-O fleet oilers; and one T-ATS towing, salvage, and rescue ship.

That is one ship fewer than the House version of the FY ’19 NDAA with 13 ships, which counted authorization for the next Ford-class aircraft carrier, CVN-81.

CVN-81 is expected to be the second carrier in a possible two-carrier buy the Navy is examining. The service is considering the two-carrier plan with shipbuilding Huntington Ingalls Industries [HII] as a way to both deliver the ships faster and decrease costs.

In testimony before Congress in April, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development & Acquisition (ASN(RD&A)) James Geurts said the final analysis and consultation with Congress should be ready by early June (Defense Daily, April 13).

This bill further funds Virginia-class submarines at $4.3 billion, advanced procurement for the same at $2.8 billion, $1.56 billion for three LCS, $5.2 billion for the three DDG-51s with another $392 million for advanced procurement, $647 million for the ESB, $977 million for the two TAO fleet oilers plus $75 million in advanced procurement, and $80.5 million for the T-ATS.

It also funds the Columbia-class ballistic missile program with advanced procurement funds of $2.95 billion, the future USS Enterprise (CVN-80) program at $1.6 billion, $271 million to continue work on Zumwalt-class DDG-1000 destroyers, $508 million for Ship to Shore Connector (SSC) vessels, and $426 million in advanced procurement funding for CVN refueling overhauls.

Separately, the bill provides $1.9 billion for 24 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft and $1.8 billion for 10 P-8A Poseidon aircraft, matching the administration’s request.

It also allows F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler, and E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft to be funded under multiyear procurement contracts, like the House authorization did (Defense Daily, April 26).

The Senate has not yet passed its NDAA, which authorizes only one LCS and holds off on authorizing CVN-81 in the two-carrier buy before Congress can consider reports on it (Defense Daily, May 25).  

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