President Barack Obama’s Navy secretary took issue with a the chief weapons tester’s criticism of the troubled littoral combat ship (LCS) program Wednesday.
Ray Mabus, secretary of the Navy, told reporters that weapons tester Michael Gilmore’s recent reports about the technical failures of the LCS were overstated and meant to grab headlines, Military.com reported.
“I’m pretty sure that Michael Gilmore has never found a weapon system that’s effective, ever,” Mabus told reporters Wednesday.
The LCS has faced major technical challenges, and “the Navy has not yet demonstrated effective capability for LCS, ” Gilmore’s Office of Testing and Evaluation at the Department of Defense said in a report released Monday.
Mabus explained that perhaps Gilmore was protecting himself from criticism in the event something goes wrong with a new weapons system. “If you’re a tester and you say something works and in the future it doesn’t, it’s like a lawyer,” Mabus said. “The answer, ‘No, you can’t do it,’ is a safe thing to do.”
Another reason for Gilmore’s dour prognoses could be an attempt to grab headlines, something that doesn’t happen when weapons systems work. “You don’t get in the press saying [good] things like that,” Mabus said.
The Government Accountability Office recently provided a list of seven times an LCS ship suffered some kind of mechanical failure in 2016. The December report suggested the Navy and Congress slow down purchases of the ship to determine whether the program is worth the cost. (RELATED: The Navy’s $29 Billion Ships Broke Down A LOT This Year)
Both Mabus and Gilmore will leave their jobs after President-elect Donald Trump takes office Jan. 20. The next Navy secretary and weapons tester, along with likely incoming secretary of defense Gen. James Mattis, will have to decide how to continue with the LCS.
Trump plans to buy a lot more ships for the Navy to expand the fleet to 350 ships.
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