What is the posture of the LCS program at this
ANTONIO: The LCS program has a lot of positive
momentum. In the shipbuilding realm, we’ve got six
ships delivered and 14 under construction right now, and
those construction opportunities at the shipyards are
proceeding very well. We are testing mission packages in
an operationally relevant environment. All three — the
Surface Warfare (SUW), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
and Mine Countermeasures (MCM) mission packages —
are making progress. We’ve had some reliability issues
but we’re being realistic and making sure that we’re getting the right capability out to the fleet.
In terms of sustainment, USS Fort Worth has performed phenomenally out in the Pacific. In the first 298
days — 10 months, the same amount of time that USS
Freedom was deployed to Singapore — Fort Worth had
less corrective maintenance and preventative mainte-
nance requirements than Freedom did. In fact, Fort Worth
had 46 additional days underway compared to Freedom
in that same first 10 months of her deployment. There is
a continuous call by the fleet for more presence and how
quickly can we get the LCSs deployed overseas.
Will there be a continuing downward trend in
LCS production costs?
ANTONIO: The first two ships of the fiscal 2010 block
buy — which now contains 22 ships — were just
delivered, LCS 5 and LCS 6. Because we have so many
ships under contract we are able to track the number
of man hours that it takes to achieve a percent of
progress through the build cycle for each ship. We are
continuing to see downward trends in the number of
hours to get that percentage of completion at both of
the shipbuilders [Lockheed Martin and Austal USA].
It really proves out the theory of learning curve and a
stable plan in terms of getting ships delivered. The latest
ships of the block buy are about $105 million under the
congressionally mandated cost cap. We continue to see
that serial production really is taking hold.
The Navy’s LCS program absorbs lessons as it forges ahead
As the program executive officer for littoral combat ships (LCS)
since September 2013, Rear Adm. Brian K. Antonio is a high-
profile leader of a high-visibility ship and mission systems procure-
Educated as a naval architect, Antonio served as a surface warfare
officer on a destroyer before becoming an engineering duty officer
and received advanced degrees in mechanical and naval engineering. His tours have included numerous ship maintenance, modernization and acquisition assignments, including the Gerald R. Ford-class
aircraft carrier program and as fleet maintenance officer for U.S.
In December 2014, the Navy decided to evolve the LCS program
into one for a new frigate. Antonio discussed the status of the
LCS/frigate program with Managing Editor Richard R. Burgess.
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