MARINETTE, Wis. (WBAY) – The Secretary of the United States Navy spent the day in Marinette touring the shipyard. The visit comes on the heels of concerns over the littoral combat ship program.
Three of the ships that have been delivered to the Navy from Marinette Marine have suffered engine failures and other problems since leaving Wisconsin.
“Anytime you bring a new ship onto the fleet, you are going to have issues,” said Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.
Mabus said there is a learning curve associated with Navy combat ships.
“Unlike aircraft or ground vehicles, you can’t build one, blow it up and test it to see how to use it. You have to take it out, deploy it and you have to let sailors in to see what happens,” said Mabus.
Mabus said as the ships continue to be built and tested, they are only going to get better and that is why the ships being built at Marinette Marine continue to be in such high demand.
He says the U.S. Navy is currently in need of 52 littoral combat ships.
He says what makes these combat ships so special is their ability and capability to fill a gap the Navy desperately needs
He says they have great small boat capabilities, which means they can move in shallow water, and they have huge flight and hangar decks.
Because these littoral combat ships are in such high demand, Mabus said the future for shipbuilders and suppliers in the area is bright.
“The decisions I’m making and the ships we put under contract, those 86 ships we’ve got under contract, are going to determine the fleet size into the 2030’s,” Mabus said, “but to keep it there, we are going to have to keep building ships and we are going to have to keep building this type of ship because it is so so valuable.”
The Navy currently has 13 littoral combat ships under contract with Marinette Marine. Four of those have already been shipped, while nine are still under construction.
The littoral combat ships that have had problems out at sea will be used for training purposes, which is something Mabus said will only help the crew better man the ship.