New US Navy shipbuilding programs to buy fleet oilers, a big-deck amphibious assault ship and a new class of amphibious dock ships are being tied together in a bid to increase competition and lower costs.
The plan, first briefed to industry in January by Navy acquisition chief Sean Stackley, will allow only two shipyards — Huntington Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and General Dynamics’ National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) in San Diego — to bid on the T-AO(X) fleet oiler, the LHA 8 assault ship, and the LX(R) class of amphibious ships.
“This competition will be limited to General Dynamics NASSCO and Ingalls Shipbuilding,” Cmdr. Thurraya Kent, Stackley’s spokesperson, confirmed Friday.
Under the plan, the shipyard that does not receive the T-AO(X) contract to design and build the first six oilers will build the assault ship.
While other shipyards have shown interest in the programs — particularly the oiler — Kent noted that Ingalls and NASSCO “are the only two sources with the capability to build both LHA 8 and T-AO(X) and the requisite knowledge of amphibious/auxiliary ship design, construction and systems to efficiently and effectively construct the large deck amphibious and auxiliary ships within the required construction period and perform the associated services.”