Navy secretary says combat ship costs will decline

ABOARD THE USS INDEPENDENCE (AP) — Navy Secretary Ray Mabus says operating costs for the service's newest ships will decline and "become more normal" over time.

Mabus spoke to The Associated Press on Thursday as he visited one of the ships, the littoral combat ship USS Independence, in waters off Oahu.

The Navy designed the littoral combat ships to have smaller crews and lower costs than other surface ships, but a Government Accountability Office report this month said the vessels each cost about $79 million to operate annually. That's more than the $54 million it costs to operate a frigate, which are larger and have more sailors on board.

The Independence is in Hawaii to participate in Rim of the Pacific exercises.

The Navy plans to deploy littoral combat ships to Singapore on a rotational basis.

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