The Senate Defense Appropriations Bill for FY2013 contains $1,784,959,000.00 requested by U.S. Senator Herb Kohl and the Department of the Navy for the construction of four Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), Senator Kohl announced today. Two of those ships will be built by Wisconsin’s Marinette Marine and the other two will be built by Austal USA in Alabama, as established by guidelines in a larger Navy ship-building contract.
Kohl worked to help Marinette Marine, part of a team with Lockheed Martin, win a Navy contract to build 10 of the new small warships over five years. The Navy plans to purchase a total of 55 Littoral Combat Ships over the long term, to replace an aging fleet of ships. The FY13 Senate Defense Appropriations Bill was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee today.
“It’s been gratifying to be part of this project to bring a significant commitment of good jobs to Wisconsin for the Navy’s next generation of ships. My hope is that this investment will be felt throughout our state, among suppliers and other support services needed by the shipyard,” Kohl said.
The LCS is a fast and agile surface combatant built to operate in shallow coastal waters. The ship can be customized for a variety of missions by substituting different modules, including anti-submarine, anti-surface warfare and mine countermeasures. Kohl worked with Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, officials from Marinette Marine and its parent company, Italian ship-builder Fincantieri, along with representatives from Lockheed Martin, to make a strong case to bring the LCS construction to Wisconsin.
Marinette Marine estimates that with the current contract they will employ 2,100 workers at the company as part of roughly 5,000 new jobs in northeastern Wisconsin and throughout the state.
It is also projected that $2.6 billion will be injected into the Wisconsin economy over the life of the contract.
At a time when many Navy ships cost at least $1 billion each, the Navy has been trying to build a smaller, more flexible vessel that can work closer to shore. Ultimately, the LCS will likely be less than half that price. The Navy needs the LCS in order to meet its goal of having 300 ships in the fleet so it can quickly protect U.S. interests around the world.
World Maritime News Staff, August 7, 2012; Image: Austal