The Navy initiated a move away from traditional minesweepers in favor of putting new kinds of anti-mine capabilities aboard ships with a variety of missions--most recently, the Littoral Combat Ship. In addition to a new ship, this approach includes several new systems and new operational concepts. GAO assessed the Navy's progress in (1) developing new mine countermeasures systems, including the Littoral Combat Ship, and (2) introducing these new capabilities to the fleet. To accomplish this, GAO reviewed Navy and program documents and previous GAO work. GAO supplemented its analysis with discussions with Navy and Department of Defense officials and contractors.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Defense||Given the importance of intelligence preparation of the environment for enabling Littoral Combat Ship operations, the Secretary of Defense should analyze whether capabilities resulting from current intelligence preparation investments will enable the Littoral Combat Ship to meet required mission timelines. If necessary, the Secretary of Defense should assess options for improving intelligence preparation of the environment capabilities.|
|Department of Defense||Given the importance of well-developed manning and sustainment concepts to achieving mine countermeasures timelines, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Navy to determine the extent to which concepts of operation and the likely performance of the Littoral Combat Ship and other assets can be reconciled to provide the needed mine countermeasures capability.|
|Department of Defense||In light of delays facing the Littoral Combat Ship program, as well as the planned decommissioning of existing mine countermeasures ships and helicopters, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Navy to evaluate the need for and feasibility of fielding mine countermeasures systems currently planned for the Littoral Combat Ship on alternative ship platforms as well.|
|Department of Defense||To ensure an accurate understanding of operational suitability for new mine countermeasures systems, the Secretary of Defense should delay approval of full-rate production for systems contained within the mine countermeasures mission package, pending successful completion of operational testing onboard their primary platform, currently identified as the Littoral Combat Ship.|