Could the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship end up being built in Korea or Finland? It seems unlikely but it’s also a possible conclusion if the program follows a path outlined by Rep. Gene Taylor (D.-Miss) at our Defense Technology and Requirements conference on Wednesday.
As chair of the House seapower committee, Taylor plans to write language into the appropriations law that would open the LCS business up to all comers if current primes General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin can’t reduce the cost to a number that lets the Navy achieve its 313-ship fleet goal. “We’ll provide money to buy back the drawings and put it up for bid.”
Taylor says that basic shipbuilding skills – for example, too much hand welding – are part of what has driven the overruns is LCS. He also noted to the conference that he’s visited other shipyards – Hyundai in Korea, Maersk in Finland – and concluded that “our yards have to get up to their standards.”
So if LCS goes to open bidding, would those shipyards be eligible to bid? “Traditionally the House has preferred to build our weapons domestically,” Taylor said, “but we’ve had a hard time getting it past Senator McCain. If I had my way I’d limit it to American shipbuilders. But I often don’t get my way.”