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Top Senators Rip Navy’s New $29 Billion Ships

U.S. Navy photo/Spc. Daniel M. Young/Released

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The top Senators on the Armed Services Committee are demanding the Navy address huge problems with the newest fleet of combat ships before any more ships can be ordered.

The Littoral Combat Ship has “major deficiencies,” and the Navy “has deviated from many aspects of a normal acquisition program, including deploying the ship before any significant testing had been conducted,” Senators John McCain, Republican chairman of the committee, and Jack Reed, the ranking Democratic member, wrote in a letter obtained by Bloomberg News.

The senators said they have “significant concerns about supporting the procurement of additional LCSs,” the letter to Admiral John Richardson, chief of Naval operations, says.

“We applaud your initiative in attempting to correct major deficiencies” and “urge you to take” additional “long overdue actions,” the senators wrote.

The first four LCS vessels — the USS Freedom, Fort Worth, Coronado and Independence —  will now be designated testing vessels to improve capabilities on the other ships, the Navy announced last week. Those four ships will only be deployed for combat in emergencies, Defense News reported.

LCS vessels entered the Navy in 2008 and have received criticism for quality and combat readiness. The Navy issued several corrective action requests in 2015 to Lockheed Martin, one of the manufacturers of the LCS, to correct what the Defense Contract Management Agency called “systemic quality deficiencies.” (RELATED: Watch The Navy Try To Blow Up Its Own Ship [VIDEO])

The letter comes as Congress continues to discuss 2017 funding for the military. In an unreleased May 2016 report obtained by Bloomberg News, the Government Accountability Office recommended Congress avoid buying any LCS craft in FY 2017.

Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter directed the Navy to change its request for 52 LCS and Frigate ships to 40 in a December 2015 memo. His directive limited LCS purchases to one manufacturer. Carter also instructed the Navy to redirect funds from the ships and purchase F-35 and F/A-18 aircraft instead, intending to focus “more on new capabilities, not ship numbers(RELATED: Senator Snubs SecDef With Amendment In Fight Over Navy Funding)

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