House appropriators encourage Navy to fulfill amphibious ship block buy

By Aidan Quigley / July 14, 2021 at 12:00 PM

House appropriators are encouraging the Navy to fulfill a block buy with Huntington Ingalls Industries for four amphibious ships after the service said it is unlikely to fulfill the contract.

Acting Navy acquisition chief Frederick Stefany told the Senate Armed Services Committee seapower subcommittee last month that the Navy reached a "handshake agreement" with HII for three LPD-class amphibious transport docks and one LHA-class landing helicopter assault vessel.

But Stefany said the service is unlikely to execute that contract as the Navy wants to conduct a force-structure assessment during its fiscal year 2023 budget review this summer and fall before buying those ships.

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), chair of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, successfully proposed an amendment to the subcommittee's FY-22 spending bill that encourages the Navy to buy the ships.

"The Committee encourages the Secretary of the Navy to expeditiously enter into such a contract in order to take advantage of cost savings provided by contracting for more than one ship at a time," the amendment states. "The Committee directs the Secretary of the Navy to submit a report to the congressional defense committees not later than 60 days after the enactment of this Act which outlines the Navy's acquisition plan for these amphibious ships."

The House Appropriations Committee advanced the bill out of committee yesterday in a party-line vote over the objections of Republicans who sought a substantial funding increase for competition with China.