Kilby: There 'might be a future' for LCS-7 and 9 despite decommissioning proposal

By Aidan Quigley / July 21, 2021 at 2:35 PM

A top Navy official said Wednesday two Littoral Combat Ships the service has proposed decommissioning could instead be sold to a foreign military or kept in some sort of reserve capability.

Vice Adm. James Kilby, the deputy chief of naval operations for warfighting capabilities and requirements, said during testimony before the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee that the Detroit (LCS-7) and Little Rock (LCS-9) might have a future.

"LCS . . . is a new platform, so there might be a future for those ships, either in foreign military sales or keeping them in some kind of reserve capability," Kilby said.

In its fiscal year 2022 budget, the Navy proposed decommissioning four Littoral Combat Ships, all of which have been in service less than 10 years. Along with the Detroit and Little Rock, the Navy proposed decommissioning the Fort Worth (LCS-3) and Coronado (LCS-4).

Kilby said while the Fort Worth and Coronado are being divested since "they were the initial version of the class," divesting Detroit and Little Rock is an affordability decision.

"Seven and 9, those are affordability decisions to drive the program where we need to have the most capable Navy we can produce for you," he said. "Seven and 9 are cost avoidance for a combining gear repair, a lethality upgrade and a survivability upgrade that have not been made on those ships."

House appropriators are making an effort to block the decommissionings of the Fort Worth, Detroit and Little Rock.

Kilby said while the Detroit and Little Rock may have utility, the cruisers the Navy proposed retiring are nearing the end of their service lives.

"It would be very difficult to come up with a construct where we would be able to bring them out and make them relevant in the time we need to [counter an] adversary," he said. "So, I think it's a different answer depending on the platform."

The Navy is planning on deactivating a total of seven cruisers, five that had been set to retire and the two additional cruisers, Rear Adm. John Gumbleton, the deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for budget, told reporters during the budget rollout.