"Congress should consider not enacting authority pursuant to the Navy's request for… 12 frigates in fiscal year 2018 and delaying funding of the lead frigate until at least fiscal year 2019, when more information is available on the ship's cost, design, and capabilities," the report stated on Tuesday.
The new frigate design represents an investment of $9 billion for a program that has no current formal cost estimate — independent or otherwise, will not begin key detail design activities until late fiscal year 2018 and has significant unknowns in regards to operational performance, the GAO warned.
Based on existing and planned shipyard workloads, US shipyards have no industrial base yet to begin construction in the Navy's planned time frame, the report warned.
The GAO recommended that the Defense Department delay its procurement plans for the 12 frigates until sufficient knowledge was attained. However, the Defense Department is not planning to delay frigate procurement, the report acknowledged.