Byrne: LCS Fight Moves to the Senate
Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL), vice chairman of the House Seapower Subcommittee, issued the following statement regarding the future of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program.
Byrne said: “Last week, the House passed a strong National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that authorized the construction of three more Littoral Combat Ships. This was a positive development that showed the strong, bipartisan support for this critical Navy program.
“Unfortunately, the bill approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee falls short by only authorizing one LCS for Fiscal Year 2018. This is a real issue that puts Alabama jobs at risk.
“To be clear, there are many strong LCS supporters in the Senate. Senator Richard Shelby has been a stalwart advocate for the LCS program and the Austal shipyard, and I know he will continue to lead the charge during the appropriations process.
“Alabama Senator Luther Strange sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, where the real problem lies. As currently written, the Senate NDAA would result in layoffs at the Austal shipyard and would severely compromise our efforts to build a 355 ship Navy.
“As the bill moves to the Senate floor, I call on Senator Strange and members of the Senate Armed Services Committee to fully support the LCS program, the U.S. Navy, and the over 4,000 men and women who work at the Austal shipyard.”
On Friday, the House passed their version of the National Defense Authorization Act by a bipartisan vote of 344 to 81. Congressman Byrne helped lead the charge to ensure authorization for three LCS in the bill.
The NDAA approved unanimously by the Senate Armed Services Committee in June only authorizes the construction of one LCS.
Three Littoral Combat Ships are needed in the Fiscal Year 2018 NDAA in order to maintain the industrial base at the two shipyards and to keep costs of the ships low.
The Independence-class version of the LCS is built in Mobile, Alabama by Austal USA. Austal is the area’s top private sector employer with over 4,000 direct employees and thousands of other jobs indirectly tied to the shipyard.