Congress on track to approve 3 LCS contracts for 2019
By: Lawrence Specker
In what may bode well for Mobile-based shipbuilder Austal USA, the U.S. House of Representatives has approved a defense spending bill that includes three Littoral Combat Ship contracts in 2019.
The House voted 359 to 54 on Thursday to approve a conference version of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2019. Back in May, the House had passed a NDAA draft that included funding for three new LCS contracts. But in June the Senate passed a version funding just one.
The conference committee formed to reconcile the two versions produced a version earlier this week that includes funding for three. The conference committee reported that it “continues to be concerned about the stress on the Navy forces and families. The Navy has been unable to meet Combatant Commander requirements because it has too few ships. As a consequence, the Navy has occasionally extended the length of time that vessels are deployed. To partially address the vessel shortfall, the NDAA supports the accelerated construction of the fourth Ford-class aircraft carrier, construction of two additional Littoral Combat Ships, and options to build two additional Virginia-class attack submarines in fiscal years 2022 and 2023.”
Alabama Rep. Bradley Byrne, a member of the House-Senate conference committee and a prominent LCS backer, said he was pleased by the House approval and that the process so far had been “a textbook example of how Congress should work.”