By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Congressman Jo Bonner (R) from Mobile released a newsletter highlighting the January 14th launch of the U.S.S. Coronado, the second littoral combat ship (LCS) built by Austal USA in Mobile, Al. Rep. Bonner warns however that the number of ships in the order could be reduced by proposed budget cuts to the Defense Department.
U.S.S. Independence (LCS 2) was the first littoral combat ship that Austal USA delivered to the Navy. Lockheed Martin is building another class of LCS for the U.S. Navy in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. U.S.S. Freedom (LCS 1) was the lead ship in that class. Independence-class LCS’s are trimarans while Freedom-class LCSs are mono hulled. Littoral combat ships can operate in shallower water than larger combat ships like destroyers and cruisers. The much more flexible and faster LCSs will replace the navy’s aging minesweepers.
The Independence-class LCS has a top speed of 44 knots, carries a crew of just 40 sailors, and can be specially configured for mine sweeping, sub hunting, operating unmanned aerial vehicles, operating helicopters, and can support Marine or Special forces operations. The cost is $704 million each, although the original navy estimate was that the LCS would cost just $220 million each.
The U.S. Navy plans call for building 55 LCSs with the first twenty being ten each of the Independence-class and Freedom-class. The U.S. Navy had originally proposed a competition between the two competing designs with winner take all; but eventually decided to split the order between both shipyards.
Austal USA is also building the Spearhead-class Joint High Speed Vessel for the Navy. The first JHSV, the U.S.S. Spearhead was launched in September and will soon be delivered to the navy. The Coronado still has to undergo sea trials before delivery.
U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has proposed defense cuts that could cut the number of LCSs ordered by 2 and could cap the numbers of JHSVs at ten where 23 are currently planned.
Rep. Bonner’s newsletter said that, “the administration’s proposed defense cuts are just the first step in the military’s budget approval process. Congress will fully review the new Pentagon budget request in the coming weeks and months and will appropriate funding at some point this summer.”
Rep. Jo Bonner represents Alabama’s first district in the United States Congress. He has opposition in the Republican Primary and faces a Democratic Party challenger in the November 6th General Election.
Hash tags U.S.S. Coronado LCS JHSV littoral combat ship Independence-class Navy Mobile Austal USA
To read all of Congressman Bonner’s cyber report