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ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy will temporarily stop construction of one of its newest and most high-tech ships to review cost overruns of the Littoral Combat Ship program, the Navy announced late Friday.

The Navy has touted Littoral Combat Ships as the wave of the future. They are designed to operate in shallow water and have weapons systems that can be tailored to a ship’s specific mission, a Navy official said.

The Navy plans to build 55 Littoral Combat Ships over the next 30 years, the official said.

Currently, four such ships are under construction: Two are being built by General Dynamics and two by Lockheed Martin, the official said.

The cost problems are with the first ship being built by Lockheed Martin, USS Freedom, which was originally budgeted at $220 million in 2005. The Navy has since allocated $270 million for it, and now the company says the project is “significantly over budget,” the official said.

The Navy believes Lockheed Martin underestimated labor costs, the official said.

Because the Freedom is about 70 percent complete, the Navy intends to finish it, but the Navy has ordered work to stop on another ship, LCS-3, while it reviews the project, the official said.

Right now, the Lockheed Martin is helping the Navy determine exactly how much the Freedom is over budget, company spokesman Craig Quigley said in a telephone interview Friday.

Quigley said the company was “very disappointed” at the Navy’s decision to temporarily stop work on the other Littoral Combat Ship.

“We take seriously our commitment to our customers, and that’s not just a tagline,” Quigley said. “It’s for that reason that we kept the Navy fully informed of LCS-1 cost issues and worked with the Navy to reduce costs on future vessels in the class.”


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