"Taylor Calls for Changes in Navy's LCS, DDG Programs"
WASHINGTON - Mississippi Rep. Gene Taylor, an authority on Navy shipbuilding, called Thursday for sweeping changes to the littoral combat ship and DDG destroyer programs, saying that the Bush administration's strategy has been financially crippling "and forced years of delays in providing needed capability to the fleet."
"I hope that the new officials within the Obama administration will reach out to the Congress for ideas and suggestions on shipbuilding programs before creating even more imbalance and uncertainty in the shipbuilding master plan," Taylor, D-Bay St. Louis, said in a statement posted on the House Armed Services Committee's Web site. Taylor chairs the panel's sea power subcommittee.He had particularly harsh words for the LCS, a relatively small, fast ship intended for close-to-shore missions. One prototype has been built by Austal USA's shipyard in Mobile in partnership with General Dynamics Corp. Another prototype, built to a different design, has been completed by a rival team led by Lockheed Martin Corp...
Taylor urged restructuring the LCS program so that both designs have common combat and propulsion systems. He also recommended removing Lockheed and General Dynamics from their lead roles. Instead, he said, the Navy should place future orders on a fixed-price basis "with any shipyard that possesses the industrial capability to build the vessels."
Lt. Clay Doss, a Navy spokesman, declined comment on Taylor's recommendations. Lockheed also declined comment.
Austal Chief Executive Bob Browning defended the LCS in an e-mail Thursday, saying it "represents one of the most affordable and fastest ways to build the Navy's fleet, particularly in light of the need for such vessels in this world of piracy and terrorism."...
Bill Pfister, Austal's vice president for external affairs, said in a separate message that the company is "in substantial agreement" with much of what Taylor is proposing. In regard to letting other shipyards bid on future orders, Pfister said, "we can compete for our design with the best of any."
Taylor's plan came just days after media reports that the Pentagon wants to temporarily shift more money back into the next-generation destroyer line known as the DDG-1000...
Taylor has been a staunch supporter of the DDG-51. On Thursday, he labeled the ship "the finest destroyer in the world" and alluded to "continuing resistance" from outgoing Bush administration officials to restarting production. Obama has yet to name a new Navy secretary to replace Donald Winter, a Bush holdover.
The DDG-1000 will now cost almost $6 billion per ship, according to John Young, the Pentagon's chief weapons buyer, in a memo obtained by Defense News...
Obama needs to appoint his own Navy Secretary and new 'chief weapons buyer.' Here is Rep. Taylor's statement from: http://armedservices.house.gov/apps/list/press/armedsvc_dem/tayloros020509.shtml
|For immediate release: |
February 5, 2009
Taylor Statement on Future of U.S. Naval Shipbuilding
WASHINGTON, DC – Today Rep. Gene Taylor (D-MS), Chairman of the Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee released the following statement on the future of Navy shipbuilding.
“For far too many years I have watched as the size of the Navy fleet has decreased. Each year the Navy changes its plan on how many ships will be built and delays the procurement of ships to future years. The Bush administration’s failed strategy of trying to build ‘transformational’ ships, such as the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and the DDG 1000 destroyer, has crippled the Navy shipbuilding budget and forced years of delays in providing needed capability to the Fleet.
“In particular, the failure of the LCS program to deliver on the promise of an affordable, capable, and reconfigurable warship only puts the exclamation point on a Bush administration’s strategy that was neither well envisioned nor properly executed. As for the DDG 1000, we will not know the true cost of that program for a number of years but significant cost growth on that vessel will require diverting funding from other new construction projects to pay the over-run.
“Lacking the expectation of increased funding available for ship procurement, it is more important than ever to set the Navy on an affordable strategy for ship procurement. Continuing resistance from outgoing Bush administration officials to the common sense strategy of restarting the DDG 51 destroyer class is not helpful to the Navy and the nation. The shipbuilding plan needs less meddling, not more. In my opinion there is absolutely no value in spending even more precious shipbuilding funds to re-design the DDG 1000 as a ballistic missile capable platform when the affordable vessel already exists in the DDG 51 destroyer.
“I hope that the new officials within the Obama administration will reach out to the Congress for ideas and suggestions on shipbuilding programs before creating even more imbalance and uncertainty in the shipbuilding master plan. To achieve an affordable, stable shipbuilding plan I recommend the following to the new administration:
“I look forward to working with the administration and the Department of the Navy in discussing these issues and implementing the ones that provide the best capability for the Navy. In my opinion, the worst thing that the Department can do is continue the policy of the previous administration and not seek any guidance from the Congress prior to submitting shipbuilding plans that were unacceptable in cost and quantity.”