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December 22, 2010

Congress approves dual LCS buy

A year-end Congressional cliff-hanger ended with the Navy getting the authority it needs to go ahead with the acquisition of 20 littoral combat ships, 10 from each of the two competing teams.

Language authorizing the acquisition was tagged onto a Continuing Resolution that yesterday passed the Senate by 79 to 16, then passed the House by 193 to 165. The President is expected to sign the measure today.

The language authorizing the purchase was inserted by Senator Richard Shelby (R. Ala.).

The contract is expected to mean a doubling of Austal USA's 1,800 workforce at its Mobile, Ala. shipyard.

According to local media, the LCS deal will also see employment at Fincantieri's Marinette Marine double to about 2,000 people in mid-2013. Beginning next spring , the shipyard, which builds the Lockheed Martin team ship, will be able to recall some 180 employees laid off because of a shortage of work. The littoral combat ship contract award was initially planned for late summer.

The Navy has said the dual buy allows it to purchase 20 ships for the price of 19.

"I'm grateful Congress has authorized the Navy to move forward with the dual block buy for LCS," commented Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. "This is a unique and valuable opportunity to lock in the benefits of competition and provide needed ships to our fleet in a timely and extraordinarily cost-effective manner."


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