The first ship in the Navy’s new $120 billion close-to-shore combat fleet is plagued by design flaws and malfunctioning equipment, including engine failures and at least 17 cracks in a ship that is only four-years old, according to an investigation released today by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO).
The USS Freedom, which Lockheed Martin delivered in September 2008 as the first vessel in the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program, has been beset with problems, including flooding and rampant corrosion. By the time it went into dry dock in the summer of 2011, there had been 640 “chargeable” equipment failures on the ship, according to a letter POGO sent today to the Senate and House Armed Services Committees.
Despite the problems with Lockheed’s Freedom, top Navy officials have told Congress that the LCS program was going well. To make matters worse, the Navy has not cooperated with the Pentagon’s office in charge of testing and evaluating weapons, POGO’s letter said.
“The problems plaguing the USS Freedom are almost too outrageous to fathom and raise critical questions about the Navy’s oversight of this program and the contractor team that built the Freedom,” POGO National Security Investigator Ben Freeman said. “Congress needs to find out why this supposed ‘state of the art’ vessel is so unseaworthy.”
In its letter, POGO asks the chairmen and ranking members of the Armed Services Committees to determine the viability of Lockheed’s design and whether it is capable of surviving in a hostile combat environment. It’s time for Congress to force the Navy to pick the better variant and stop throwing good taxpayer dollars after bad, Freeman said.