General Dynamics ship succeeds in trials: US Navy

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General Dynamics Corp’s first shallow-water combat ship, Independence, has successfully wrapped up “acceptance trials,” the latest phase of its multibillion-dollar competition against a rival model built by Lockheed Martin Corp, US Navy officials said.

The Navy’s inspection board found Independence’s propulsion plant, self-defense performance and “sea keeping” to be commendable and recommended that the chief of naval operations authorize delivery of the ship after the correction or waiver of cited shortcomings.

Independence received 39 “starred cards,” or citations for significant deficiencies requiring fixes, during the Nov. 13-19 trials in the Gulf of Mexico, “slightly” more than Lockheed’s first such Littoral Combat Ship, Allison Stiller, a deputy assistant secretary of the navy, told reporters at the Pentagon.

The Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey gave Independence a total of 2080 “trial cards,” or citations for a material deficiency overall, less than the Lockheed ship Freedom, Stiller said.

Freedom completed its acceptance trials earlier and is scheduled to deploy for the first time next year, initially in the Caribbean, and then in the East Pacific.
“You should not infer from the number of trial cards that either variant has any advantage or disadvantage” in the competition, said Stiller.

Under a recently restructured acquisition plan, Lockheed and General Dynamics are vying for a lucrative initial 10-ship deal to build two LCS ships a year between fiscal 2010 and 2014.

The Navy’s goal for picking the winner is June 30, but the date could slip, Rear Admiral Bill Landay, the program executive officer for ships, told the same session.

Ultimately, the Navy hopes to build a fleet of 55 such shore-hugging ships. Equipped with different mission packages, they are to be used for such things as mine detection, anti-submarine warfare and combat against small surface craft, such as those used by pirates.

None of the deficiencies for LCS 2, as the General Dynamics ship is known, is expected to delay the delivery of the ship, which is due to occur later this month, with ship commissioning in mid-January in Mobile, Alabama, Stiller said.

Independence ended up costing a total of $704 million, including government funded equipment on board, or more than three times the Navy’s original goal.



Lockheed’s ship is made of steel and features a conventional hull. General Dynamics’ is made of aluminum, a lighter material, and features a three-hull des