Sen. Jeff Sessions is vowing to fight any Pentagon efforts to cut the number of Littoral Combat Ships, saying a reduction from 52 to 32 vessels "cannot be accepted."
"The ships are highly fuel efficient, use small crews, are flexible with many capabilities, and the 52 ship requirement has been affirmed on many occasions. The 52 number is not a wish list, but a formally established requirement. Our combatant commanders around the globe are anxious to have the ships and the presence they bring," said Sessions, R-Mobile.
A report surfaced Wednesday the Pentagon is considering lowering its order of LCS by 20. The decision was revealed in a Jan. 6 memo from Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Christine Fox, who said it was made after the Pentagon received its 2015 budget guidance from the White House.
Original plans called for the 52 LCS, with 12 "Independent" class coming from Austal USA's Mobile facility. Lockheed Martin will build 12 Freedom class at its shipyard in Marinette, Wisc. It is unknown how that order will change if the Department of Defense opts for the reduced number of ships, but it could decide to only proceed with one type of the vessel.
The Navy has not commented on the reports.
Sessions, a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, said the LCS are critical to the future of the Navy.
"LCS are terrific ships that enjoy the confidence and unanimous support of our senior Navy leaders," Sessions said. "It has been a top priority of the Navy for 17 years and has been supported by six consecutive Chiefs of Naval Operations and six Secretaries of the Navy.
"I intend to fight against this proposal and I will continue to fight for LCS. This ship is a critical part of our nation's need to return to a 300 ship Navy."