Navy asks Lockheed to fix issues with littoral combat ships

Reuters News
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Posted: May 10, 2016 2:54 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Navy has sent Lockheed Martin Corp three requests to correct problems, including propulsion-related issues, with the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program dating back to May of last year, a Navy spokesman said on Tuesday.

The ships were originally designed as a small, fast and affordable addition to the fleet, but production has been marked by cost increases and delays. Navy officials, however, say the costs have fallen sharply and the ships are performing well.

Lockheed and Australia's Austal are building two separate LCS models in what is one of the Pentagon's biggest acquisition projects. U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has said the Navy should pick one supplier for production of future ships.

Navy spokesman Dale Eng said in a statement that a "Corrective Action Request" had been sent to Lockheed in May 2015 regarding inadequate propulsion plant control. The request was closed last month after Lockheed executed a corrective action plan.

A separate request was sent last June to correct issues regarding the USS Detroit and USS Milwaukee's propulsion system cleanliness.

A third request followed in July because of Lockheed's failure to have enough oversight over subcontractors.

Lockheed has submitted plans for corrective action for the outstanding two requests, but an evaluation is currently being made on their sustainability, Eng said.

Bloomberg first reported the news of the Navy's requests to Lockheed.

Lockheed said the requests were part of a normal feedback process to improve the shipbuilding process and did not reflect the final product.

"We take each Corrective Action Request very seriously as each one identifies manufacturing and training improvements, which our industry team implements in close coordination with the Navy," Lockheed spokesman John Torrisi said in a statement.

The Pentagon has said it plans to buy just 40 littoral combat ships instead of the 52 originally planned, saying the savings would allow the Navy to buy more missiles and undersea technology.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Paul Simao)