Wittman, Palazzo push Navy to execute amphibious ship block buy in new legislation

By Aidan Quigley / June 15, 2021 at 2:43 PM

Two Republican lawmakers have introduced legislation that would hold half of the Defense Department's cost assessment and program evaluation office budget until the Navy executes a block-buy contract with Huntington Ingalls Industries for four amphibious ships.

House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee Ranking Member Rob Wittman (VA) and Rep. Steven Palazzo (MS) introduced the legislation Monday that holds the CAPE funding until the service executes the block-buy contract for three LPD-class amphibious transport docks and one LHA-class landing helicopter assault vessel.

Acting Navy chief acquisition executive Frederick Stefany said last week that the Navy has a "handshake agreement" with HII for the block buy but is unlikely to execute the contract. He said Navy leadership wants to conduct a force assessment during its fiscal year 2023 budget review before executing the contract.

"The commitment of four ships at once, they would like to defer that commitment until they are able to do that force structure assessment," Stefany said. "Right now, indicators are we will not be able to execute that, but it's not a done deal, it's going through the process within the department for a final decision."

Wittman said in a statement Monday that the bundled procurement would save the government $720 million.

"The Navy still wants these ships and has signaled they will build them -- but thanks to the Administration wanting their fingerprints on everything, we are sitting on our hands and losing hundreds of millions of dollars in savings," he said. "This is unacceptable."