Copeman’s memo, prepared late last year at the request of Admiral Jonathan Greenert, the chief of naval operations, indicates the Navy may be starting to re-examine the $37 billion program. The ship has been beset by troubles, including cracks and corrosion, its price has doubled since 2005 to $440 million per vessel and a decision to build two versions will add to longterm operating costs.
The ship “is not expected to be survivable in that it is not expected to maintain mission capability after taking a significant hit in a hostile combat environment,” Michael Gilmore, the weapons tester, said in a January report. Until now, Navy officials have maintained that the ship has sufficient defenses to perform its missions while working in tandem with the rest of a battle group. “These ships are designed for speed,” Rear Admiral Tom Eccles, deputy commander for naval systems engineering at the Naval Sea Systems Command, said at a Surface Navy Association conference in January. “They’re designed to be in the fight and then get out of the fight when it’s required.”