Lockheed Martin Corp. will deliver its eight remaining Littoral Combat Ships an average of 11 months late, more than twice the five-month delay for rival shipbuilder Austal Ltd., the U.S. Navy estimates.
The contractors build different versions of the ship that’s been criticized for rising costs, equipment breakdowns and potential vulnerability in combat. Now, Austal’s timelier performance may give the Australian company an advantage in the winner-take-all competition for a guided-missile frigate intended as a more robust successor.
The delays also postpone availability of the vessels for a Navy that says it’s hobbled by readiness shortfalls and a shortage of ships that officials say will be solved over time if the service expands to 355 vessels from 279 today.
The Navy attributed the delays for Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed to past or recently resolved issues in production and maintaining the shipyard workforce. The 11-month average delay is an increase from an average of about five months that the Naval Sea Systems Command estimated in March in response to an inquiry. (end of excerpt)
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