The Navy's $21 Billion Littoral Combat Ship Program Is Taking on Water
Policy + Politics

The Navy's $21 Billion Littoral Combat Ship Program Is Taking on Water

REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Antonio P. Turretto Ramos/Handout via Reuters

With engineering problems dogging the U.S. Navy’s newest class of combat vessel, the $21 billion littoral combat ship (LCS) program, the brass first had the multimillion-dollar ships and their crews stand down and now has ordered retraining and an overall design review.

Related: The 10 Most Expensive Weapons in the Pentagon’s Arsenal

The LCS program has had a tortured history of design changes and cost overruns, and now the ships intended for close-to-shore warfare keep breaking down and limping back to port.

According to a Government Accounting Office report last March, “the total estimated procurement cost of the first 32 ships in the program is … about $21 billion in constant FY2016 dollars, or an average of about $655 million per ship.” Per ship cost estimates vary, though, and depend in part on the way in which development costs are accounted for, the type of arms deployed, and the ultimate number of ships ordered.

On Sept. 4, the Navy Times says, the USS Coronado returned to its home port of Pearl Harbor after running into trouble at sea.

In July, the USS Freedom suffered severe damage to one of its two engines, which may have to be replaced, according to Defense News. The problem is thought to be operator error.

Starting last January, the USS Fort Worth had to sit in Singapore for eight months while repairs were made.

Related: Why the Navy’s New Combat Ship May Fail Against Real-World Threats

And in December, 2015, another LCS, the USS Milwaukee, broke down on route from San Diego to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The Freedom, the Fort Worth, and the Milwaukee were all built by Lockheed Martin; the Coronado was built by Austral USA.