San Diego Contractors Encouraged To Focus On Littoral Combat Ship

Wednesday, August 24, 2016
By Steve Walsh
Photo by U.S. Navy photo by Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class Nicholas Kontodiakos / U.S. Navy
Above: The Navy's newest littoral combat ship USS Independence on the way to Norfolk, Va., before sailing to its homeport in San Diego. Independence is designed as a fast, agile, mission-focused ship for use in shallow, coastal water regions.

Contractors gathered in San Diego this week for the Navy's Gold Coast conference were encouraged to keep designing new uses for the sometimes controversial littoral combat ship.

At least six of the ships are are based San Diego. It's one of the Navy's newest, most high-tech ships. It's designed for multiple roles and has a propulsion system that uses the same principle as a Jet Ski. Earlier this year, two of the ships broke down within months of each other, which led to the Pentagon cutting its order from 52 ships to 40.

Rear Adm. John Neagley defended the vessel. He told an audience of contractors at the conference there are many opportunities to design new uses for the versatile ship.

The ship is designed to be reconfigured. Neagley, who took over the littoral combat ship program four months ago, encouraged contractors to create new, modular platforms which could be installed on the littoral combat ship to support military drones and sonar detection systems.

“We’re going to continue to build ships to the president’s budget and bring them out here," Neagley said. "They’ll continue to do great missions for the fleet. They do bring tremendous capability and lot of flexibility.”

This is the 28th year for the Gold Coast conference, which is put on by the San Diego Chapter of the National Defense Industrial Association. Organizers said the conference at the San Diego Convention Center is the largest gathering of small Navy contractors on the West Coast. The number of exhibitors doubled over last year, from 100 to more than 200 this year.