GAO cites 'fundamental weaknesses' in LCS, frigate acquisition strategies

The following is an excerpt from a report summary by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO):

(WASHINGTON) — The Navy's task force studied a number of options to improve upon known shortfalls in littoral combat ship (LCS) lethality and survivability. It found that neither LCS variant with minor modifications met the Navy's desired capabilities without further tradeoffs. After briefing senior Navy leadership, the task force was directed to further examine the LCS options, which required it to alter or in some cases reduce some capabilities. In late 2014, the Navy recommended (and the secretary of defense approved) procuring both variants of a minor modified LCS, designating it a “frigate.” The Navy prioritized this option because of its relatively lower cost and quicker ability to field, as well as the ability to upgrade remaining LCS, over making more significant capability improvements. GAO's analysis found the planned frigate will not provide much greater capability in some areas than LCS and that some cost assumptions may have overstated this option's affordability.

As the Navy pivots from LCS to the frigate program, which is estimated to cost more than $8 billion for ship construction alone, its approach would require Congress to appropriate funding with key unknowns.

Congress should consider not funding any requested LCS in fiscal year 2017 and should consider requiring the Navy to revise its acquisition strategy for the frigate. GAO also recommends that the Department of Defense (DOD) align reviews to precede key acquisition decisions and enhance oversight by requiring the frigate program to develop key program documents and to report on the frigate separately in the SAR. The department concurred with the first recommendation and partially concurred with the second.

To read the complete report, click here.

By Professional Mariner Staff