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Littoral Combat Ship and Frigate: Slowing Planned Frigate Acquisition Would Enable Better-Informed Decisions.


The Navy envisioned a revolutionary approach for the LCS program: dual ship designs with interchangeable mission packages intended to provide mission flexibility at a lower cost. This approach has fallen short, with significant cost increases and reduced expectations about mission flexibility and performance. The Navy has changed acquisition approaches several times. The latest change involves minor upgrades to an LCS design-referred to now as a frigate. Yet, questions persist about both the LCS and the frigate. GAO has reported on the acquisition struggles facing LCS and now the frigate. This statement discusses: (1) the evolution of the LCS acquisition strategy and where it stands today; (2) key risks in the Navy’s plans for the frigate based on the LCS program; and (3) remaining oversight opportunities for the LCS and frigate programs. This statement is largely based on GAO’s prior reports and larger work on shipbuilding and acquisition best practices. It incorporates limited updated audit work where appropriate. What GAO Recommends GAO is not making any new recommendations in this statement but has made numerous recommendations to DOD in the past on LCS and frigate acquisition, including strengthening the program’s business case before proceeding with acquisition decisions. While DOD has, at times, agreed with GAO’s recommendations, it has taken limited action to implement them. GAO has also suggested that Congress take certain actions to support better LCS and frigate outcomes.

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