Austral USA, the Mobile, Alabama-based subsidiary of the Australian shipbuilder has been awarded a $584.2 million modification
to a previously awarded US Navy contract for the construction of a littoral combat ship (LCS
). Under the terms of the deal, the firm will perform and oversee all necessary design, planning, construction and test and trials activities in support of delivery of the vessel to the Navy, with a scheduled completion date set for October 2023. Work will primarily take place at Mobile, Alabama, but also at several other east coast locations. The Navy expects to release a competitive solicitation(s) for additional LCS class ships in future years, and therefore the specific contract award amount for these ships is considered source selection sensitive information and for the time being, will not be made public.
Exploit simplicity, numbers, the pace of technology development in electronics and robotics, and fast reconfiguration. That was the US Navy’s idea for the low-end backbone of its future surface combatant fleet. Inspired by successful experiments like Denmark’s Standard Flex ships, the US Navy’s $35+ billion “Littoral Combat Ship” program was intended to create a new generation of affordable surface combatants that could operate in dangerous shallow and near-shore environments, while remaining affordable and capable throughout their lifetimes.
It hasn’t worked that way. In practice, the Navy hasn’t been able to reconcile what they wanted with the capabilities needed to perform primary naval missions, or with what could be delivered for the sums available. The LCS program has changed its fundamental acquisition plan 4 times since 2005, and canceled contracts with both competing teams during this period, without escaping any of its fundamental issues. Now, the program looks set to end early. This public-access FOCUS article offer a wealth of research material, alongside looks at the LCS program’s designs, industry teams procurement plans, military controversies, budgets and contracts.