House Committee Funds 2 LCS Ships for 2015, Only Part of Origina - WBAY

House Committee Funds 2 LCS Ships for 2015, Only Part of Original Contract

Updated:

The future of the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship program was under debate on Capitol Hill Wednesday.

As part of the 2015 Defense Authorization Act, members of the House Armed Services Committee voted to approve full funding for two ships and advanced procurements for two more. The Navy's original proposal would have fully funded all four.

One of the ships will be built at Marinette Marine, the other at a shipyard in Mobile, Alabama.

The ships are part of the Navy's overall contact, which the Department of Defense has reduced by 20.

"While we may have a different direction for that LCS program to go, ultimately as the Secretary of Defense looks at it again, we think it's vitally important that the Navy have the small surface combatants that they need," Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Virginia) said during Wednesday's debate.

During the debate, Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) proposed withholding funding until the Navy can prove to Congress its new plan will address funding and building concerns. That amendment failed.

"This ship continues to face numerous problems including extensive criticism from Navy officials themselves," she said.

Before Wednesday's hearing, Wisconsin Congressman Reid Ribble brought the committee's staff director to Marinette Marine to showcase the millions of dollars the shipyard has invested in the LCS program.

"It's highly competitive for those dollars from various programs that are underway," Ribble said in an interview with Action 2 News.

Ribble, a major supporter of the LCS program, argues that fulfilling even part of the original contract is essential.

"The assembly line approach to manufacturing these vessels could cause some layoffs at the front end if you don't have incoming materials for ships a year or two out," he said. "You're going to fall behind in the program."

The House is expected to take up the bill later this month.

Some members of Congress have proposed trying to eliminate the entire LCS funding this year.

"It's going to be a bit of a tension point between the Air Force and the Navy and the Army," Ribble said. "As the all compete for this kind of restricted budget framework that we have to work in."

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