Defense Bill Blocks Cuts to LCS Program

USS Jackson
The USS Jackson sits in front of Austal USA on the Mobile River.

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which approved the construction of three Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) in the fiscal year 2017.

The passage of the bill comes after efforts by the Obama administration and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to cut the number of ships in the LCS program and limit the number of manufacturers to one.

That will no longer happen because of an amendment added by Representative Bradley Byrne (R-AL) that blocks the Pentagon from eliminating one of the LCS suppliers.

That amendment is crucial for Austal U.S.A. in Mobile, Alabama who builds the Independence variant of the LCS.

“This vote was for all the men and women at the Austal shipyard who work so hard to build a first-class ship to support our nation’s sailors. The Navy has made clear they need these ships in order to fulfill their mission, and I am so pleased to see the full House of Representatives agree to reject any cuts to the LCS program,” said Byrne in a press release.

Currently, two different versions of the LCS are built by Austal USA in Alabama and Marinette Marine in Wisconsin.

“This was a bipartisan vote, and I remain excited about the future of the LCS program,” Byrne added.

The amendments to the LCS program was just one small part in the passage of NDAA. The NDAA is a comprehensive bill that sets policy and authorizes spending for the entire U.S. military.

The bill that was passed yesterday by the House will spend $574 billion for national base requirements and an additional $36 billion for overseas operations.

Last month at Austal U.S.A., the U.S. Navy added an additional LCS to their contract with their ship manufacturer. The contract modification increases Austal’s block-buy contract with the Navy to 11 ships.

At this time, Austal has ten ships in different stages of production, seven LCS and three Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) vessels.

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