The Swine Line: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Pentagon Obscures Cost Growth of “Little Crappy Ship”

The Swine Line is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.

According to a March 2017 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, the Defense Office of Prepublication and Security Review, which is charged with reviewing information to be released to the public, blocked awkward information regarding cost growth in a historically wasteful program.

The GAO was forced to delete cost increases of two Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) purchased in 2014 after this information was classified.  The LCS, referred to by some inside the Navy as the "Little Crappy Ship," has been criticized for years on multiple fronts.  According to a March 6, 2017 Bloomberg article,

The Littoral Combat Ship has been controversial, with two defense secretaries under President Barack Obama questioning whether the light ship intended for shallow coastal waters could survive in combat and cutting back the numbers planned.  While President Donald Trump and his defense secretary, James Mattis, haven’t taken a stand on the ship, it could be one path toward Trump’s pledge to rapidly expand the Navy’s fleet to 350 vessels from about 272 today.

This would be a mistake.  The LCS has been described as flexible to a fault; it lacks the firepower to perform an offensive role, and, because it was built to commercial, rather than military standards, is not as survivable as other the Navy’s other ships. 

There have also been problems with corrosion and cracks in the ship’s hull, and cost overruns and delays are par for the course.  The average cost of an LCS has more than doubled, from $220 million to $478 million.

Thankfully, the LCS program is drawing to a close.  The Pentagon has already purchased 26 of the 28 ships it intends to acquire.  Perhaps someday defense officials will even allow taxpayers to learn how much they spent on each of the Little Crappy Ships.

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