The Senate Armed Services Committee’s draft fiscal year 2021 defense authorization bill would limit new future ship development until more work is done and Congress is given more details.

The bill report noted that the Navy requested $126 million in research and development funds for ship concept advanced design to go toward the Future Surface Combatant (FSC), next generation medium amphibious ship, and next generation medium logistics ship, but decided to restrict funding.

Artist rendering of the first Flight III DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, the future USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125). Work on DDG-51s helped boost HII’s sales in the first quarter. (Image: Huntington Ingalls Industries)

“The committee lacks sufficient clarity on the capability requirements to support” the design efforts.

The Navy’s FY ’21 budget request seeks $60 million to start working on a next generation medium amphibious ship and next generation medium logistics ship, divided into $30 million each (Defense Daily, Feb. 20).

Then, in May, the Navy announced a virtual industry day for the logistics ship, during which the service explained the ship is planned to augment current Combat Logistics Force ships by using commercial ship designs tailored for military applications (Defense Daily, May 15).

The report noted the committee supports the Conditions based Maintenance + (CBM+) initiative to improve cost, schedule and performance outcomes in ship maintenance availabilities using analytic tools.

It recommended decreasing the ship concept advanced design funding by $63 million, leaving only $63 million left for the three projects and providing $16 million more to potentially “accelerate the implementation of the CBM+ initiative.”

Navy has pushed back the LSC to the late 2020s after previously hoping to have it on contract as early as 2023.

In January, Director of Surface Warfare (N96) Rear Adm. Gene Black said he thought the Nayv would not buy the ship until the late 2020s after Flight III DDG-51 destroyers reach initial operational capability, the Navy has matured ore technology it plans to put on the LSC, and after procuring more Flight III destroyers (Defense Daily, Jan. 15)

The Navy requested $70 million for ship preliminary design and feasibility studies in research and development funds for the LSC in a separate line item from the new amphibious and logistics ships.

However, “the committee lacks sufficient clarity on the Large Surface Combatant (LSC) capability requirements…to support the start of preliminary design for the LSC program or completion of the Capabilities Development Document,” the report said.

As a result, the committee recommended a decrease in another $41 million, to drop funding on the project to $29 million.

The SASC bill would also direct the Secretary of the Navy to submit a report with the FY ’22 budget request “that details the plan to comply with the requirements of” of the FY 2020 defense authorization bill section 131 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020.”

That provision from the FY ’20 bill directed a new class of LSCs may not be granted Milestone B unless it first incorporates design changes identified during the full duration on combat system ship qualification trials and operations test periods of the first Flight III DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and the final result of test programs of engineering development models or prototypes for critical systems including a land-based engineering site for the propulsion system.

It also prevents the Secretary of the Navy from releasing a detail design or construction request for proposals or obligating funds from shipbuilding accounts for LSCs until it receives a Milestone B approval. The milestone decision authority must also notify the defense committees of actions taken to comply with those Milestone B requirements.