The admiral in charge of the Littoral Combat Ship program said he expects deficiencies found on the third copy of the ship during recent acceptance testing to be resolved quickly.
Rear Adm. James Murdoch, the LCS program executive officer, told reporters on a conference call yesterday that there were less than 10 problems uncovered on the USS Forth Worth LCS-3 during the acceptance trials last week in Lake Michigan. Murdoch would not detail the deficiencies pending a final report but said he believes they are correctable before the ship is delivered to the Navy later this year.
“I am not concerned at all about any of the deficiencies…in terms of my ability to correct them before the ship leaves the Great Lakes,” Murdoch said.
The deficiencies on the LCS-3 during acceptance trials were significantly fewer than the more than 50 discovered on the first ship of the Lockheed Martin [LMT] variant, the USS Freedom (LCS-1), he said.
The Freedom has been plagued by problems since it was delivered to the Navy. Last year, it had to undergo extensive repairs following cracking in the hull and deckhouse, and more recently an engine shaft seal failed while it was at sea.
Murdoch said revised welding techniques and other adjustments have been since been put in place and he is confident that the LCS-3 and subsequent ships of that variant will not experience similar problems. The shaft seal was repaired during a dry docking earlier this year.
Questions continue to surface, however, about the viability of the Freedom variant. A recent Project On Government Oversight report said the Lockheed Martin and partner Marine Marinette version of the ship should be cancelled. The other variant is based on the USS Independence (LCS-2). They are being built by Austal USA.
The entire LCS program has come under renewed congressional scrutiny. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the ranking member, called on the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review the LCS program because of concerns regarding the cost, schedule, and performance of the sea frames and mission modules (Defense Daily, May 1, 2012).
McCain said he “remain(s) skeptical” about the shipbuilding program even as the Navy says cost have been stabilized and the delivery schedule is meetings its goals. The Navy is buying at least 10 copies of each design, and some have questioned whether having two variants of the ship is necessary.
McCain and Levin told the GAO in a letter that even though the cost of building the seaframes appears to be stabilizing, they believe “continuing oversight of this program’s cost, schedule and performance remains warranted.”