Mar 04 2015

Shelby Questions Navy Secretary Mabus on the Future of LCS and JHSV

WASHINGTON, DC – Wednesday, March 4, 2015 – U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), a senior member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, today questioned Navy Secretary Ray Mabus on the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV).  After the hearing, Shelby reacted to the comments from the Secretary:

I was pleased to hear that Secretary Mabus shares my views regarding the importance of both LCS and JHSV to the U.S. Navy,” said Senator Shelby.  “The Secretary’s comments on the future of these two critical capabilities signal that south Alabama will continue to play an important role in our national security.”

An unofficial transcript of today’s Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense hearing is as follows:

Littoral Combat Ship Questions
Click here to view the video of Senator Shelby questioning Secretary Mabus on LCS

SHELBY: Secretary Mabus, it is my hope that the Navy will continue to equitably distribute work between the two LCS shipyards.  Could you describe to the committee the Navy’s acquisition strategy through 2019 for the remaining LCS ships numbered 25 through 32?

MABUS: Yes, Senator.  We have found that having two shipyards and having two variants of the Littoral Combat Ship has been very helpful in a number of ways.  One, it keeps competition in the program, and it has driven costs down considerably.  Two, it gives us different capabilities.  Each ship brings some unique capabilities and capacities that the other one doesn’t.  And third, we are able to train our sailors pretty much on common systems for these two ships, without duplicating effort.  So for the ships through 2019, we plan to continue the 50/50 split between the two yards.  The Small Surface Combatant Taskforce, which we chartered and which came through and which recommended some upgrades in lethality and survivability for ships past 2019, for ships through 52, we are hopeful that we can move that up some, and we won’t wait until 2019, because it’s a modification and not a new build.  And it is our plan to keep procuring both variants, again competitively, but both variants through the entire 52 bodies.

SHELBY: This is a high priority for the Navy is it not?

MABUS: It’s a very high priority.

Joint High Speed Vessel Questions
Click here to view the video of Senator Shelby questioning Secretary Mabus on JHSV

SHELBY: Mr. Secretary, one last question, the Navy in October 2008, we know that’s 7 years ago, nearly, the Navy affirmed an 18 ship requirement for the Joint High Speed Vessel, JHSV.  The Navy, I understand, is expected to put under contract the eleventh one.  Where are you?  Where’s the Navy on this now?  Are you going to push for the 18 ships?  Or what’s going to happen?  Or does a lot of it depend on what we do?

MABUS: Well part of it, we took a look, I believe in 2010, and reduced the number from 18 to 10.  That was done on what the Combat Commander needed and on how we could move troops around.  Thanks to this committee, thanks to Congress, we got an eleventh High Speed Vessel in 2015, which we very much appreciate.  We are going to keep a continuous look on that because, as General Dunford said today, we don’t have the adequate lift, particularly in the Pacific.  The Joint High Speed Vessel is one of the solutions to that.  Now that we have got our first JHSVs out in the fleet operating not only to carry Marines, but also do theater security cooperation-- we’ve got one in South America today.  We will continue to evaluate the need for how many we need in the future.