Northrop Grumman’s shipyards may have become a bit harder to sell in the wake of a story that the $1.7 billion San Antonio class it built would not be effective in combat. The story was broken by my colleague Tony Capaccio at Bloomberg.
The Department of Defense’s top testing official, Michael Gilmore, told Tony, according to his story, “that critical systems, such as electrical distribution, ship-wide fiber optics and voice– communications networks, are not reliable.” Perhaps even worse, Tony reports that “the ship’s armaments can’t effectively defend against the most modern anti-ship weapons.”
Raytheon does not come out of this very well either. They supplied electronics, a fiber-optics network and an anti-missile system that Tony reports “the testing office concluded had ‘persistent engineering deficiencies.’”
Bottom line: Gilmore told Tony in an email that the ship is “not effective, suitable and not survivable in a combat situation,” he said.
What this says about Navy oversight and Northrop’s management would appear to be obvious. We wonder how much these deficiencies, which the company has known about for several months as they were provided in a classified report to Congress, played a role in the company’s decision to put its shipbuilding business up for sale. The Navy told Tony is aware of the problems and will correct them on all ships in the class.