April 30 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy's maintenance program for its littoral combat ships includes the cost of significant unplanned work, a government report released on Friday says.
The 32-page report of the Government Accountability Office notes that because the Navy "lacks sufficient manufacturer technical data" to maintain systems aboard the vessels, extra coordination and longer maintenance periods are required, as well as a reliance on original equipment manufacturers.
It also said that, because U.S. law forbids foreign contractors to perform certain maintenance on the ships, U.S. contractors are typically sent overseas to perform routine maintenance at a cost that sometimes exceeds $1 million.
Littoral combat ships, which are capable of shallow-water and ocean-going performance, typically are delivered late to the Navy, and with increased costs and less capability, the report said.
Thirty-five LCS are currently at sea, under construction or planned by the Navy, a $61 billion program of long-term operation. The first was built in 2008, indicating that some ships are being retired, while others enter schedules of maintenance cycles.
The report acknowledged that the Navy is "beginning to implement contracting approaches for LCS maintenance in order to help mitigate schedule risk, while taking steps to avoid it in the future."