A top US Navy official has come up with an alternative to scrapping recently-built warships with design and mechanical failures that make them unworthy for Washington’s use: Selling the vessels to South American allies.
“We should consider offering these ships to other countries that would be able to use them effectively,” Admiral Michael Gilday, chief of naval operations, said on Thursday in a US Senate hearing. “There are countries in South America, as an example, that would be able to use these ships that have small crews.”
At issue are the nine littoral combat ships (LCS) that the US Navy has called for decommissioning, despite opposition from some members of Congress. The vessels were built at a cost of about $360 million each, and the youngest, the USS St. Louis, entered service less than two years ago.
US Representative Elaine Luria (D-Virginia), a former naval officer, has noted that the failed LCS vessels are among 24 ships earmarked for decommissioning, 11 of which were built less than a decade ago. “The Navy owes a public apology to American taxpayers for wasting tens of billions of dollars on ships they now say serve no purpose,” Luria said in March, after the Pentagon submitted its latest budget.