For the past several months, the Navy has been scrambling to keep afloat its littoral combat ship program, which has come under political fire for its soaring costs. Originally estimated to run $220 million per ship, the latest calculations raise the LCS price tag to more than $500 million.
The Navy could have saved itself much grief if it had just been upfront about the costs when it began designing LCS five years ago, said a senior Navy official who is closely involved in the program. The original estimates were close to $400 million, not $220 million, but the Navy was so focused on proving that it could build an inexpensive warship that it allowed contractors to submit lowball estimates, the official said. “We convinced ourselves it was going to be $200 million. The process was budget driven, not cost driven.” The Navy told shipbuilders to come up with a $200 million ship, but it should have trusted its own estimates the first time around.