LCS-4 Awarded

By Christopher J. Castelli / May 1, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Navy today awarded General Dynamics' Bath Iron Works division a fixed-price contract to build one Flight 0+ Littoral Combat Ship seaframe at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, AL. The ship is known as Coronado (LCS 4).

The Navy says the construction contract's value is source-selection sensitive information because the price of the fiscal year 2009 ship is tied to the ongoing competitive solicitation for FY-10 ships. But Coronado is expected to cost less than Independence (LCS-2), the Navy said in a statement today. “The cost savings are due to a stable design, readiness of production facilities, an experienced build team in place and a fixed-price contract,” the statement says.

The Navy awarded a total of two contracts for LCS seaframes in FY-09, including a contract to Lockheed Martin for LCS-3 on March 23. The service is conducting a competition for three more seaframes in FY-10. All FY-09 and FY-10 ships will be fixed-price type contracts.

The Navy statement says the current Flight 0+ phase of the LCS program includes ships procured during FY-09 and FY-10, and will incorporate the existing designs from the incumbent industry teams along with all approved engineering change proposals, improved production techniques and material improvements discovered as a result of the construction and testing of LCS-1 and LCS-2.

“The design for both ships is mature and we are incorporating revisions to specific areas based on the lessons learned from the construction of the initial ships, proposed production improvements and acceptance inspections,” the Navy statement says. Those revisions will be in place for the start of construction of the FY-09 ships, according to the service.

The LCS program has had its share of cost troubles; the Navy insists it is focused on that issue.

“Affordability is a critical objective for the LCS program, the service's statement says. “Navy and LCS industry teams are working to reduce cost, achieve steady production, and improve execution. We remain committed to effective cost control and have modified contracting strategies and management practices to provide program stability.”

The Navy says it needs 55 littoral warships to fill urgent warfighting gaps. “LCS will provide capability in sea mine localization, clearance and neutralization; defense against swarming small boats equipped with anti-ship cruise missiles; and finding and neutralizing quiet diesel submarines in noisy environments,” according to the statement.