The U.S. Navy is investing more money to maintain its east coast-based controversial littoral combat ships (LCS). Three multiple-award contracts worth approximately $2.76 billion combined were issued last week to provide sustainment support for those vessels homeported in Mayport, Florida.
A Defense Department contract announcement released on Friday shows that BAE Systems’ Jacksonville Ship Repair LLC and Fincantieri Marine Systems North America were awarded a combined $1,300,061,738 maximum ceiling value, firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, multiple-award contract.
Each of the contracts has an estimated ordering period of five years, which is expected to run through the end of August 2026.
“These efforts consist of chief of naval operations dry docking selected restricted availabilities and selected restricted availabilities, continuous maintenance, emergent maintenance, ship assessments, preventative/planned maintenance, facilities maintenance, and corrosion control in the contiguous U.S.,” according to the Defense Department announcement.
The bulk of the work—58 percent—is expected to be performed in Mayport, while some 14 percent would be completed in other locations throughout the contiguous United States, with the remaining 28 percent will occur outside the continental United States.
The service also issued a second multiple-award contract to Austal’s U.S. arm, Colonna’s Shipyard, East Coast Repair & Fabrication, Epsilon Systems Solutions, General Dynamics’ NASSCO-Mayport subsidiary, North Florida Shipyards and Tecnico. The contract has a ceiling value of $965 million. Additionally, a third multiple-award contract was awarded to multiple small businesses, which included Neal Technical Innovations LLC, Valkyrie Enterprises Inc., and Life Cycle Engineering Inc. It was worth up to $499.2 million to perform LCS maintenance.
These contracts were competitively procured using full and open competition with sixteen offers received via the beta.sam.gov website. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC, was the contracting authority.
Swabbing the Deck
While defense contractors will take on some of the ongoing LCS maintenance, USNI News reported that Vice Adm. Roy Kitchener, commander of Naval Surface Force, had called for sailors to perform the bulk of the work.
“I think one of the toughest challenges we’ve had is quite frankly one is how we do the maintenance,” Kitchener had told reporters in June. “That was very different for us—going to the [contractor]-based maintenance and sailors being more of an operational role and maybe picking up 10 to 20 percent of the work to be done. It left us with the inability quite frankly to troubleshoot to the level that the Navy is used to doing. You know, on all the ships I served [on] that’s why we have them—sailors—there and we have all the things, the tools needed.”
Future of the LCS
It was just last month that the Navy decommissioned the USS Independence with little fanfare in a pier-side ceremony in San Diego. The namesake of the Navy’s Independence-class of LCS left the fleet after just eleven years in service, far shorter than the expected twenty-five-year lifespan the Navy had envisioned for the fast-moving warships that were designed to operate close to shores.
The decommissioning of the USS Independence had been announced earlier this year, even as the Navy has continued to commission newer LCSs. In the case of LCS-2, the three-thousand-ton warship had been used as a testbed for mission package and development. It will soon be joined by the USS Freedom, which will be decommissioned next month.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.