BAE Systems won an $8.1 million contract modification
from the Navy for USS Wichita (LCS 13) post-shakedown availability (PSA). The Wichita is a Freedom Class Littoral Combat Ship. The 378-foot highly maneuverable lightweight combatant features a steel monohull with a draft of only 13 feet allowing access to more ports and locations than other ship designs. LCS
warships are designed to perform humanitarian aid and rescue, anti-submarine warfare, minesweeping, defending against piracy and drug trafficking, small assault transport and deterrence, while operating in shallow coastal waters known as the littorals. The Navy commissioned
the ship in January this year. The PSA encompasses all of the manpower, support services, material, non-standard equipment and associated technical data and documentation required to prepare for and accomplish the PSA. The work to be performed will include correction of government-responsible trial card deficiencies, new work identified between custody transfer and the time of PSA and incorporation of approved engineering changes that were not incorporated during the construction period. BAE Systems will perform work in Jacksonville, Florida, and is expecting to be finished by March 2020.
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.