When the Navy unveiled its ambitious 30-year plan to build up its fleet, a key feature was the intention to produce a large number of a new class of relatively cheap surface combatants in what would have been a remarkably short time.
But the accelerated push for that new warship, called the littoral combat ship (LCS), has stalled, burdened by the all-too-familiar combination of technology challenges and skyrocketing cost. The shipbuilders had to master new hull forms, material, and construction standards, and the technology to permit minimal manning and integration of portable mission systems. Navy leaders insist, however, that the LCS program and the effort to expand the Fleet will continue.
The shipbuilding plan proposed initially in March 2005 by then-Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Vern Clark had envisioned building more than 70 of the new warships by 2024, as part of a Fleet of 325 battle-force vessels. As revised by Clark's successor, Admiral Mike Mullen, the plan proposed obtaining 55 LCSs by 2016, on the way to a Fleet of 313.