Lawmakers Eye More Oversight
Of LCS, Ford-class Carrier Programs
Arizona Sen. John McCain became the top Republi- can on the Senate Armed Services seapower subcommittee earlier this year, and has wasted no time flexing his oversight muscle as he targets Navy programs
with histories of cost overruns and other problems.
McCain, a Navy veteran, was the most senior
Republican on the full committee until January, when
Senate GOP rules forced him to give up that coveted slot.
But he remains a powerful voice on the panel, and his
subcommittee post has given him new focus on some of
the biggest programs in the Navy’s portfolio.
That was no more evident than in the Senate Armed
Services Committee’s version of the fiscal 2014 defense
authorization bill, which includes new oversight of the
Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), a program of which McCain
has long been critical, and only reluctantly raises the cost
cap on the Navy’s next aircraft carrier from $10.5 billion
to $12.9 billion.
On the shore-hugging LCS, which has been dogged by
lingering questions regarding cost and its ability to survive
combat situations, the committee requires the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ investigative arm,
to conduct a wide-ranging review of the ship program.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus speaks with members of
the international media aboard the Littoral Combat Ship
USS Freedom (LCS 1) May 11 after its arrival in Singapore
on its maiden overseas deployment to Southeast Asia. As
congressional criticism of the LCS program mounts, Mabus
has defended the platform, saying much of the current
backlash relates to problems the Navy already has fixed.
The GAO review would assess
production and testing of the sea
frames, development and testing of
the individual mission modules designed for the LCS, lessons learned
from the deployment of the first
ship — the conventional-hull USS
Freedom — to Singapore, and any
Navy studies on LCS requirements
and technical capabilities, as well as
any recommendations for changes
in those areas.
In its version of the sprawling
defense authorization measure,
which already has passed the
House, the House Armed Services
Committee required a similar
report, making it all but certain it
will be included in the final House-
Senate conference agreement on