U.S. DD(X) Destroyer Program to Continue for Now

The Defense Department has authorized Northrop Grumman Corp. and General Dynamics Corp. to continue design work on the new Navy DD(X) destroyer while Congress and Defense Department officials decide the fate of the program.

Pentagon acquisitions Chief Kenneth Krieg signed a memorandum authorizing the Navy to continue giving the two companies contracts for preliminary design work on the ships. The detailed design work would begin after a so-called "Milestone B" decision that would move the new program into the new phase of development.

Analysts for the Congressional Budget Office told U.S. lawmakers last month the cost of building the first new DD(X) destroyer could be up to $4.7 billion, above an upper limit of $4 billion to $4.5 billion set by the Pentagon.

But Krieg told the same hearing that the new ship was needed to deal with future military threats and would cost less to operate in the long run than the older DDG destroyers. Northrop Grumman, with a shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi, had a leading role in designing the DD(X). The Navy wants to acquire eight to 12 DD(X) ships, with Northrop and General Dynamics and its shipyard in Bath, Maine, initially set to split the production work.

Given rising costs, the Navy suggested a competition between the two shipyards for production work, although that proposal raised concerns in Congress over whether it would maintain sufficient U.S. shipyard capacity.