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Byrne applauds Austal on LCS contract

Tuesday, the U.S. Navy awarded two of three Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) to Austal USA. Congress appropriated funds for 3 LCS in Fiscal Year 2019.

Two of those will be built by Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama. The third will be built by Lockheed Martin in Marinette, Wisconsin. Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) applauded Austal for the contract awards.

“The fact that Austal received two of the three contracts from Fiscal Year 2018 for Littoral Combat Ships is yet another indication of the high quality work being performed at our shipyard in Mobile,” Rep. Byrne said. “This marks the third straight year that Austal has received two of the three contracts – a testament to the fact we are delivering capable ships on time and on budget. Congratulations to the almost 4,000 men and women who work at the shipyard and help equip the Navy with warships.”

Austal USA of Mobile, Alabama was awarded a fixed-price-incentive firm target modification to a previously awarded contract for the construction of two Littoral Combat Ships. The Navy may release a competitive solicitation(s) for additional LCS class ships in fiscal year 2019, and therefore the specific contract award amount for these ships is considered source selection sensitive information so is not being released by the Navy at this time.

The work will be performed in Mobile, Alabama; Pittsfield, Massachusetts; Cincinnati, Ohio; Kingsford, Michigan; Bristol, Connecticut, and various other locations of less than 1 percent each and is expected to be completed by September 2024. Fiscal year 2018 Shipbuilding and Conversion, Navy funds are obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the fiscal year. This contract modification was awarded via a limited competition between Austal USA and Lockheed Martin.

The 2019 Defense Department funding bill funded a 33rd, 34th and 35th littoral combat ship, three more than the 32-ship requirement set by the Navy. The Barack H. Obama (D) administration cut the original 55 ship requirement to 32 in 2014. The mission modules that will make each of the ships specialize as a mine sweeper, a submarine hunter or small surface combatant have been delayed due to technical issues.

The littoral combat ship is a set of two classes of relatively small surface vessels designed for operations near shore, the littoral combat zone, by the Navy. Austal builds the trimaran hulled Independence class. Lockheed Martin builds the more conventional Freedom class.

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At this point 15 LCSs are deployed with the navy and the other seventeen are in various stages of construction and development. These newest three were not supposed to be built under the Obama administration plan to halt the LCSs at 32. Will there be more LCS’s greenlighted in the 2020 budget is in question.

Currently Austal USA and Lockheed Martin are competing for the contract for 20 new guided missile frigates which will be larger, multi-mission, and more lethal than the two LCSs. Both shipyards have submitted a more stretched design based on their Independence and Freedom class LCS hulls. The Obama Administration Defense Department had capped the number of LCS and frigates at 50. Now it appears that the Republican controlled Congress has reverted back to the original 55 ship requirement. Where the LCS contract was divided between Austal and Lockheed, the contract for the frigate is supposed to go to just one ship builder, dramatically reducing the work at either Mobile or Marinette.

Congressman Bradley Byrne represents Alabama’s First Congressional District which includes Mobile where Austal USA builds the Independence class. Byrne is seeking another term; but faces Navy veteran Robert Kennedy Jr. (D) in the November 6 general election.

Original reporting by Defense News’ David Latner contributed to this report. Wikipedia was also consulted.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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