Administration in apparent U-turn on LCS budget request

Written by Nick Blenkey
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MAY 26, 2017 — The Trump Administration has reportedly done a U-turn on its decision to include just one Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) in the FY 2018 Navy shipbuilding budget.

House Armed Service Committee Democrats report that, on May 24, “President Trump reversed course on the number of LCS requested. In a public hearing and a briefing with reporters, Navy officials were directed by the administration to announce that the budget now ‘supports’ the production of two LCS. As of now, they do not know how they will pay for the second ship.”

House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) made the following statement about this situation:

“Whatever caused this reversal, it is obvious that President Trump is not making these decisions based on strategic considerations. It shows a disturbing carelessness about national security and taxpayer money that he would casually fudge a request for a $634 million ship.”

The public hearing referred to was held by the House Armed Services Committee’s Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee. And the opening remarks by Subcommittee Chairman Rob Wittman (R-VA) made it clear that the eight ship shipbuilding program is not one he is to happy about.

“While I do not object with the budget’s emphasis on current readiness, I believe that there is a high degree of naiveté in the area of ship construction,” he said. ” We must start now, not in 2019. Some believe that ship construction is like a spigot that can be turned on and off. I believe that there are those in defense budgeting that advocate for such an approach. In ship construction, we know one thing for certain: Ship construction is a long game and requires steady funding to achieve steady progress.

“Unfortunately, I do not see steady progress toward fulfilling the goal of obtaining a 355-ship Navy. The budget request of only eight ships does little to build towards a 355-ship Navy. We have hot production lines, ready to add more work. But the call to duty has not been sounded. It is time to get serious and match our peer competitors with aggressive ship construction initiatives.

“As to specific concerns with the Navy request, building one aircraft carrier every five years will never allow us to reach 12 aircraft carriers; building two attack submarines a year will result in an attack submarine reduction by 20 percent in ten years; and building only one LCS will result in massive layoffs at both Marinette, WI and Mobile, AL. These are not acceptable outcomes.”

You can see the video of the hearing below.

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