There are billons in taxpayer dollars wasted by the Department of Defense and one glaring example is the U.S. Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship. This ship may cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars and may ultimately lack the necessary firepower in order to be a part of the fleet.
A March 28, 2013 Bloomberg article discussed a report about the Littoral Combat Ship and it’s less than adequate capabilities:
“Vice Admiral Tom Copeman, the commander of naval surface forces, called on the Navy to consider a ship with more offensive capability after the first 24 vessels are built, according to a Navy official who asked not to be identified discussing the confidential document.
Copeman’s memo, prepared late last year at the request of Admiral Jonathan Greenert, the chief of naval operations, indicates the Navy may be starting to re-examine the $37 billion program. The ship has been beset by troubles, including cracks and corrosion, its price has doubled since 2005 to $440 million per vessel and a decision to build two versions will add to longterm operating costs.”
There is the possibility that a review could take place and a redesign of the ship or the development of an entirely new vessel could be the result of such a review. That being said, the story becomes more unbelievable considering that there are actually two versions of the “inadequate” ship being built at the same time, one in Wisconsin and one in Alabama. While the goal behind the LCS was to replace outdated frigates and various other ships, the report clearly calls into the question the wisdom of taxpayers spending nearly $40 billion dollars to build the LCS. The duo has earned the non-ceremonial nickname of “Little Crappy Ship” from those in the Navy, and that just adds fuel to the substantive criticism of the wastefulness of this endeavor.
Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), no stranger to exposing wasteful spending in government, highlighted the Littoral Combat Ship in his Wastebook 2012. The report noted that the waste to taxpayers could amount to a far larger dollar value than anticipated originally and why the failing vessel needs to be retired for the sake of taxpayers and common sense. The report also noted that because of the duo of Littoral Combat Ships being made in two different states, it “could run the taxpayers in excess of $148 million… in just year one of a program that may last more than a decade.” While the Navy has argued that their strategy of awarding two different contractors rights to build the ships, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has already shown an “increase in nearly $800 billion in costs for just 20 ships in less than seven years,” according to Senator Coburn.
The costs are continuing to increase dramatically due to the Navy’s decision to allow building to begin on the ships without final design even 20% complete. If that wasn’t enough, we will have already paid for the “cost of building 30 ships before some of the weapons systems that they are equipped with are even adequate,” according to the Government Accountability Office.
It doesn’t make any sense that a ship is being built that is still being designed, with two different contractors, and inadequate offensive capabilities. And of course, taxpayers bear the cost of this ridiculous and wasteful project. The real unfortunate part about this story is that it is just one glaring example of many wasteful projects prevalent at the Department of Defense. The shame of it all is that there appears to be no accountability as costs continue to rise for programs, vessels, weapons systems, and initiatives that make no sense at all.