WASHINGTON – Lawmakers say they want Congress’ auditing agency to investigate how the Navy has handled failings with its new Littoral Combat Ship, including when the service learned of cracks and corrosion.

“It’s disturbing the Navy would accept a ship that fails to meet the basic requirements for a tugboat,” Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., said in a statement Wednesday as the House Armed Services Committee endorsed her request that the Government Accountability Office review the $37 billion, 55-ship program. “The future of the fleet is corroding before our eyes.”

The Littoral Combat Ship is intended to clear mines, hunt for submarines, defend itself against swarming small vessels and provide humanitarian relief in shallow coastal waters. Cracks were found in a version being built by a team led by Lockheed Martin Corp. Corrosion was found in the first vessel made by Austal Ltd. and General Dynamics Corp. The review would involve both models.

The amendment by Speier was adopted during the House committee’s consideration of legislation to authorize defense programs for fiscal 2013. The Senate has yet to take up its version of the bill.

Even with demands for more scrutiny of the Littoral Combat Ship, the full committee supported the $2.2 billion requested by the Navy for the next four vessels, including $429.4 million in development funds, on Thursday. The House defense appropriations subcommittee also has approved funding for the four ships.

“Our impression is that congressional support remains solid,” Rear Adm. James Murdoch, the program executive officer, told reporters Wednesday on a conference call. “Obviously, I am held accountable for any concerns about ship construction issues, and I welcome the scrutiny.”

Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wis., whose district includes the yard where the Lockheed Martin vessels are built, said in a statement that “the small issues that are normal for any newly designed vessel” have been corrected.

Lockheed Martin spokeswoman Dana Casey said questions raised about its first vessel, the USS Freedom, “appear to be based on selective information that is outdated or inaccurate.” The vessel “is providing important lessons that are being incorporated into future ships,” she said in an emailed statement.

Austal USA spokesman Craig Hooper said his company’s USS Independence “has been quietly getting the job done.”

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and Senate Armed Services Committee leaders Carl Levin, D-Mich., and John McCain, R-Ariz., also have requested that the GAO assess concerns about the ship’s sea frame and mission equipment.