(USS Freedom, Pic: USN)
When the USS Freedom (LCS 1)—Lockheed Martin’s submission in the competition for the U.S. Navy’s lucrative Littoral Combat Ship contract—was put in the water, the vessel was only about 60 percent complete. By time the company’s second vessel of the same class (USS Fort Worth or LCS 3) hits the water in 2012, it will be about 85 percent complete Lockheed’s Paul Lemmo, told ARES at the Navy League show last week. Lemmo said that LCS 3 is currently about 40 percent complete at the Marinette Marine Shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin, and is on cost and on schedule.
“We’ve been able to bring down the cost” on the production of LCS 3 over LCS 1, he added, “though the learning curve, and high levels of pre-outfitting, etc…LCS 1 had a lot of concurrency in it, we were still finishing the design while we were building the ship—that doesn’t allow you to get all the equipment in the ship before you launch,” which then drives up the price of outfitting the ship while it is in the water.
Let’s not forget, however, that back in 2004 the Navy said that the cost of each LCS should be about $220 million—and as of 2009, the Freedom’s price tag had ballooned to $637 million and the Independence, or LCS 2, eventually came in at over $700 million.