A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report said delivery of the future USS Bougainville (LHA-8) amphibious assault ship is delayed by 13 months due to defects in the main reduction gears and understaffing for vessel construction.
“LHA 8 construction progress is 37 percent complete as of September 2021 and the ship is expected to be delivered in February 2025—about a year later than originally planned—per program officials,” the GAO Weapons Systems Annual Assessment released on June 8 said.
Previously, while the fiscal year 2021 budget request documents said LHA-8 was expected to be delivered in January 2024, the FY ‘22 budget request changed that to February 2025 without a clear explanation.
GAO said Navy officials told them the main reasons for the delay was a 14-18-month delay in receiving the ship’s main reduction gears due to the gears having manufacturing defects that required correction.
HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., is building the Navy’s amphibious assault ships, including LHA-8.
Officials also told GAO the shipbuilder is prioritizing completing ships with earlier delivery dates than LHA-8, “leaving LHA 8 construction understaffed.”
The report noted program officials said they can do little to address the problems other than delaying ship delivery by the year.
Moreover, changes to the ship to integrate the new Raytheon Technologies [RTX] Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR) is also contributing to the schedule delay. The EASR is an S-band radar in the SPY-6 family and on LHA-8 it replaces the N/SPS-48G air search radar currently on the USS America (LHA-6) and USS Tripoli (LHA-7).
In 2020, a GAO report cited the EASR as the biggest program risk for LHA-8, noting modifications to the ship to accommodate the radar could push back the ship’s delivery date (Defense Daily, June 5, 2020).
GAO said Navy officials told them they expect LHA-8’s final price will exceed the original target cost by $68 million due to these delays. The report said this is above the target cost, but still below the contractor’s price ceiling, so the increase will be shared by HII and the Navy.