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Pentagon budget 2023: US Navy looks to cut LCS ASW module, decommission 9 Freedom-class ships

The US Navy wants to decommission nine Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ships. (US Navy)

The US Navy (USN) fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget request includes a plan to eliminate the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) antisubmarine warfare (ASW) mission module package and decommission nine Freedom-class LCS vessels during the upcoming fiscal year, USN officials said during a 28 March media briefing.

“The ASW mission module was not going to work,” Rear Admiral John Gumbleton, deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Budget, said during the briefing. Also, he noted, the USN intended to rely on its future fleet of Constellation-class guided-missile frigates (FFGs) to perform ASW missions.

“That's where to chose to take the risk,” he added.

The other deciding factor, he explained, was the money needed to fix propulsion plant problems that have plagued the Freedom-class ships, recently halting delivery of new vessels.

“The drive-chain fix isn't an exorbitant amount of money,” Rear Adm Gumbleton said.

The service would further save money by focusing on sustaining the other LCS variant, the Independence-class ships, instead of trying to equally support both, he noted.

The navy also plans to decommission another 15 ships during the fiscal year, USN officials said during the briefing – five cruisers, four dock-landing ships, two submarines, two oilers, and two expeditionary transfer docks.

Sixteen of the ships, including the LCSs, will require a waiver to be decommissioned before the end of their service lives, Rear Adm Gumbleton said. Relatively new to the fleet, the ships cost about USD500 million per vessel to procure, he noted.

He estimated the navy will save about USD3.6 billion across the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) with the decommissionings.

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