The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has advised Congress to halt funding for the purchase of two littoral combat ships (LCS) in fiscal 2017.

The office also said that the US Navy’s plans to request authorisation for a block buy of all 12 frigates are premature.

The navy has planned to request authorisation for funding in the fiscal 2018 budget request for the lead frigate.

"Cost, schedule, and capability expectations degraded over time."

The GAO is not making any new recommendations, but has discussed the evolution of the LCS acquisition strategy and business case, key risks in the navy’s plans for the frigate based on the LCS programme, and remaining oversight opportunities for the LCS and small surface combatant programmes.

The study was conducted by GAO to probe into the navy’s vision for the LCS programme and its shortcomings in order to warrant the feasibility of approving further requests of buying LCS.

The report stated that the navy has chosen existing LCS designs with minor modifications, even though the capabilities are yet to be evaluated and proven, while design and cost are not well defined.

A statement in the report read: “Ships were not delivered quickly to the fleet at low cost. Rather cost, schedule, and capability expectations degraded over time.”

It also added: “In contrast, a sound business case would have balanced needed resources time, money, and technical knowledge to transform a concept into the desired product.”

Image: LCS USS Freedom during her sea trials. Photo: courtesy of Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class James R. Evans.