“Gentlemen, of the 313-ship fleet — we’re really just giving lip service to that, aren’t we. I mean, there’s been no proposal to achieve a rate that would get us there. As a matter of fact, it seems that we’re actually falling away from that based on the rate of ships being decommissioned outpacing the rate of production.”

– Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MISS), Senate Armed Services Seapower Subcommittee, June 16, 2009

In the same hearing (video here), Vice Adm. Barry McCullough made the following statement in specific reference to the number of ships in the fleet.

“While the Navy can always be present persistently in areas of our choosing, we lack the capacity to be persistently present globally. This creates a presence deficit, if you will, where we are unable to meet combatant commander demands.”

Sean Stackley also stated in that hearing the Navy would need at least a 10-ship per year build rate to reach the 313-ship fleet benchmark in the 2020 time frame. Unfortunately, the Navy is only buying 8 ships in FY2010, meaning the Navy will need to buy 102 ships between FY 2011 and FY 2020 to reach the 313-ship mark. The timing couldn’t be more challenging for the Navy. For a look into the planning challenge, the FY 2010 Navy SCN budget is $12B; with $3.4B in RCOHs, EROs, and NDSF, for a combined $15.4B annually.

Current plans call for the Virginia class submarine procurement alone to consume an estimated 33%, $4 billion SCN annually, of the Navy SCN budget for the next decade. Additionally, with a recent CBO estimated cost to be around $10 billion for new CVNs, which are built and paid for over a period of 5 years, an additional estimated $2B will be spent on aircraft carriers over the same period of time. That means that $6B, or half, of the SCN budget from FY11-FY20 will be used to procure 20 submarines and 2 aircraft carriers; only 22 ships of the 102 needed to reach the 313-ship threshold. Where will the other 80 ships come from, and what will they look like?

Presumably, 48 of the ships will be the Littoral Combat Ship at an estimated $460M each, or a total cost just over $23.1B SCN of the remaining $60B for the decade. Also presumably, the Navy will buy 1 LPD-17 (FY11), 2 JCC(R), 2 LHA(R), and 1 LHD(X) over the next decade at minimum, which combined will cost around $1.7B, $2B, $3.5B and $3.5B each respectively, or $16.2B SCN total. That would give the Navy 53 of the 80 ships with $20.7B SCN to spend the remainder of the decade.

Over a ten year period, based on FY 2010 budget numbers the Navy would have $34B to spend on RCOHs, EROs, and NDSF. The question though is how far that goes, and how many hulls can the Navy afford. In previous planning documents, the Navy had indicated over that period 13 JHSVs, 3 Maritime Prepositioning Ship-Cargo variants, 3 Maritime Prepositioning Ship-Dock variants (also known as the MLP), 1 T-AGOS(X), 3 T-AO(X), 1 T-ARS(X), and 1 T-ATF(X) would be built. Is this affordable? It is unclear, RCOHs are expensive, but if it could be achieved the Navy would get an additional 25 ships.

Between the SCN totals described above for 20 submarines, 2 CVNs, 53 other SCN purchased ships, and the 25 support ships, that would give the Navy 100 of the 102 ships necessary to meet the 313-ship fleet, with a total of $20.7 billion to spare. Unfortunately, the list above contains purchases for zero major surface combatants. While it is true the Navy will not retire a single cruiser or destroyer during that entire time frame, at best a strategy for building DDG-51s which run at a cost of around $2B each will allow for only 10 destroyers to be purchased with the remaining $20.7B SCN. That would mean no CG(X) replacements, and obviously will not provide enough work to sustain the shipbuilding industry.

The point of this exercise is to highlight 4 points that can be drawn from the data.

1) The Navy is not in a terrible position to reach 313-ships by FY 2020, even as the challenges are obvious. The Navy is in a very terrible position towards sustaining 313-ships beyond 2025 due to the rapid retirement of surface combatants beginning in 2025. Replacing surface combatants beginning in that time frame will be very difficult, because at the same time the Navy will also need to replace retiring platforms including amphibious ships, logistics ships, and ballistic missile submarines. Unless amphibious ships or logistics ships are replaced over the next decade, the rate of retiring surface combatants beginning in FY 2025 will greatly outpace capacity to replace those large, expensive hulls.

2) A SLEP Program for the FFG is not a solution, as a FFG SLEP program would consume funding for new ships to get the fleet to FY 2025. In playing with the various possible options, I have been unable to outline any conherent plan where a FFG SLEP wouldn’t compound the surface combatant numerical challenges that begin in 2025. I don’t believe any legitimate argument exists for a SLEP FFG program towards addressing the Navy’s surface combatant numerical challenges.

3) The Littoral Combat Ship represents $23.1B of the available $60B for SCN spending options and alternatives over the next decade. The LCS accounts for around 38.5% of the available SCN funding. It is legitimate to question whether this platform represents a cost effective investment for the capabilities delivered and expected over a 30 year hull life. Obviously unmanned technology is the future, and modularity is a critical technology for the future Navy, but the Littoral Combat Ship is a relatively small platform for modular payloads, and it is still unclear how big the Navy may desire unmanned technologies to be for combat operations over the next 30 years. It is also very debatable whether the Littoral Combat Ship is well designed for combat in the littorals, considering the LCS was designed with the survivability rating of a logistics ship. The Navy has not determined yet how much flexibility the LCS brings to the fleet. Is the LCS too big for littorals? Is the LCS too small to be an effective unmanned mothership? Does the LCS have enough crew to effectively support manpower intensive operations like fighting piracy? Does the LCS have enough endurance to meet combatant commander requirements? What if the LCS turns out to be only part of the solution to the many requirements this ship is touted to meet? The LCS is more of a question today than it is an answer, but the Navy touts the platform as if the reverse was true.

4) Vice Adm. Barry McCullough stated in testimony the places where this “presence deficit” is identified includes “with new partners in Africa, the Black Sea, the Baltic region, and the Indian Ocean.” McCullough also went on to say “Africa Command capacity demands will not mitigate the growing European Command requirement” and “Southern Command capacity has consistently required more presence that largely goes unfilled.” All of these places suggest the “presence deficit” is specific to presence of the surface combatant force, but most of those places suggest the “presence deficit” is not in regards to high end combat capabilities, but the necessity to engage in littoral places and ungoverned spaces where local Coast Guards are largely incapable of meeting the regional maritime security requirements.

In my opinion, all signs suggest the Navy needs to substancially increase the quantity of surface ships to meet emerging trends and forward commander requirements, but it appears fiscally impossible to do so when the only two surface vessel options includes only two options, the $460M LCS and $2B DDG-51. Of all the discussions to be had in the QDR process, not to mention when taking the long view of the future and accounting for the history of naval construction since the end of the cold war, surface warfare is in dire need of new fleet ideas, new logistics models for sustaining forward presence, and new technologies to meet the challenges of emerging trends in naval combat. With each competing fleet model proposed, tested, and evaluated as part of the QDR process, the Navy would be very wise to study all of these ideas carefully and find the best ideas in surface warfare that can be applied to building a larger, more cost effecient 21st century fleet that contains the kind of capabilities the trends suggest will be in demand in the future.




Posted by galrahn in Uncategorized


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  • solomon

    Wow. Great article and it puts into perspective the issues involved in procurement in the next decades.
    PS. Mike you might have been right~!

  • http://newwars.wordpress.com Mike Burleson

    Just send to me. We bloggers have ideas!

  • Byron

    I submit that #2 is incorrect. Deleting ONE LCS would provide close to $500 million, which split twenty ways would provide more than enough funding to do a bob-tail SLEP, achieveable over the next three years, and give POTUS/Congress/DoD/SecNav/CNO the ship numbers they will need to insure the LCS proves to be the system they so dearly believe it to be. IF LCS falls on it’s face, you still have ships on station till a possible replacement starts coming down the ways.

  • http://newwars.wordpress.com Mike Burleson

    Basically the Fleet has talked itself into a strategy where only exquisite high end platforms can operate against modern threats. Historically this attitude seems ludicrous when you consider the importance of small ships in past naval wars. The other fear is that if they cancel ships they are already building, precious Navy dollars will be transferred to the other services.

    Two main problems have driven the high cost of modern platforms in recent decades:

    1)Excessive defensive equipment (stealth, LR missiles, Aegis radar)

    2)Ship Size.Only large and high sea-worthy craft will survive new threats.

    A result of this steadfast procurement strategy is the Navy gets smaller, resulting in the “presence deficit” you mentioned. A dependence on nuclear power could also be added to this list, since when you build ships so equipped, you have to keep building them on a regular basis or, as we are so often warned by military and Industry, you lose the expertise. So its an unending circle. The recent fuel crisis has compounded the problem with calls for EVEN MORE NUKE SHIPS, thus almost ensuring the demise of the US Navy as we know it.

    There has been numerous proposals over at the NEW WARS blog, and at many others including Information Dissemination. Rather than hash through each one, here is a very drastic Navy construction plan that is THE LEAST they can do to build ships numbers.

    A FREEZE ON ALL BIG SHIP (ships over $1 billion each) PROGRAMS FOR A DECADE.

    Thats it. I can hear the howls now that it will be the end of American seapower and it will destroy the defense industry, but trust me, it won’t. Both are in a bad way as it is, with ships riddled when faults and numbers shrinking steadily since the 1990s with no end in sight. Can’t we afford to take some risks since we are failing anyway? And such a shock to the system might bring the industry out of the money-flushed coma it has suffered throughout the Cold War and ongoing to this day.A building holiday for Big Ships would be a God-send for naval planners, since they would have time to consider the type of fleet best suited for America’s needs.

    Savings would go toward building up the small ship navy, historically the most important ships for fighting in the littorals. We could continue building the LCS, but also place in mass production cheaper vessels the fleet has experimented with of late such as Sea Fighter, Stiletto, and perhaps some of the Nordic stealth boats like Visby. We could also consider something larger like auxiliary warships in the mothership role planned for LCS. T-AKE is an idea but something much smaller would be preferable, around 10,000 tons or less.

    If China or Russia start saber-rattling, we could always continue the Virginia submarine program, but a better alternative might be to build conventional subs. An SSK can carry the same offensive weapons as a Virginia, are super quiet, and as we learned during the Pacific War are quite handy in major fleet actions. The bottom line is they would be less vulnerable for littorals operations than the huge and costly Virginia’s.

    We already have 80 of the most powerful missile battleships in the world, 11 of the only fully functional supercarriers, and the best submarine fleet in existence. When will we say we have enough firepower, now lets brings capability and numbers back into the fleet? This would restore our global presence, while at the same time we learn how to build ships again, placing greater emphasis on the new robot weapons now being deployed to see, and less on exquisite but increasingly too costly warships. And more ships mean more of the advanced weapons where you want them, when you need them.

  • http://www.informationdissemination.net/ Galrahn

    Byron,

    The FFGs don’t plug the gap, which begins in FY2025 with the retirement of the cruisers and continues for 2 decades with the retirement of the Destroyers.

    If the gap was over the next 15 years, SLEP for the FFGs would make sense. You aren’t suggesting the FFG SLEP is to help those platforms serve 40-50 years to help cover the gap are you?

    I don’t think that is realistic.

  • Byron

    No, I’m not. But I do submit that LCS is not the platform everyone thinks it is. I submit that backing a small boy that could take LCS’s place until a real corvette sized ship can be put into service. LCS, as everyone knows, has many unknowns, and some glaring known issues such as a highly critical weight and stability. Unknown also, and mentioned in your recent discussion at your blog is the manpower problem. UNREP severely taxed the crew, especially in the brige team. I’m calling a SLEP as a hole card in case we need it. The entire SLEP wouldn’t be needed immediately, either, as we could hold with say 5-6 a year for the older boats working towards the newest.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Galrahn,

    What then, is the absolute of retiring the cruisers in 2025? Cannot they have upgrades to electronics suites and weapons systems to keep them in service past that date?

    And the SLEP of the Perrys may be pain worth taking to maintain a presence that Admiral McCullogh speaks of. The alternatives to each of those ideas is a void of surface platforms. Not a number of platforms with limited capabilities, but no platforms at all.

    Much of the same argument against service life extension of the FFG-7s was made in opposition to the FRAMs of the Gearings in the late 1950s. They were mid-life, had some wear, and even with upgrades were not as capable as the Adams and Farraguts. However, neither of those last classes could be built in sufficient numbers to replace the capabilities of the older but effective Gearings.

    A number of the Gearings served side by side with their “grandchildren” Spruances for half a decade or so until finally retired. And the Spruances were retired well before their times, many not yet twenty years old, and still the most effective ships of their types in the world, with the exception of their replacements.

    Such a mindset is what partially got us into this mess. We are retiring and disposing of effective hulls left and right, hulls with half their service life remaining, and not replacing them for want of the desire and dollars to modernize/SLEP when necessary.

  • http://informationdissemination.blogspot.com/ Galrahn

    We are retiring and disposing of effective hulls left and right, hulls with half their service life remaining, and not replacing them for want of the desire and dollars to modernize/SLEP when necessary.

    While that is true of pattern before now, that does not apply to the FFGs. The Perrys were built for 30 year hull life, and will retired after performing for 30 years.

    Even a SLEP to get them to 40 years service only fills the period of time the Navy has the largest number of ships, and consumes a lot of resources to do it. The FFGs would simply become one more platform retiring as the AEGIS fleet begins to retire in 2025.

    What then, is the absolute of retiring the cruisers in 2025? Cannot they have upgrades to electronics suites and weapons systems to keep them in service past that date?

    They are doing exactly that. Both the CGs and DDGs are being extended to 40 year life, meaning instead of retiring the CGs beginning in 2020 as was expected just two years ago, now the Navy is making the investments to get these hulls to 2025.

    This has bought 5 years for preparing for the replacements to our major surface combatant force. I think there are things the Navy can do, different that Mike, but that will be a future post.

  • http://informationdissemination.blogspot.com/ Galrahn

    But I do submit that LCS is not the platform everyone thinks it is.

    No argument from me. Comparing the LCS to a frigate in 2009 is like comparing an aircraft carrier to a battleship in 1929. These are unique capabilities.

    I think the LCS is accurately described as a 21st century idea in surface warfare, but it is a new idea that will need some time to develop. Lessons from this development may suggest the LCS is not quite the right platform for the concept, or meets only part of the requirements the Navy has in both the littorals and for unmanned systems. Either way continued development to some degree appears appropriate for the near term.

    55 ships? I’d like to see what the first can do before we make that kind of commitment. You are exactly right Byron when you say there are a lot of unknowns.

  • http://www.checkswithchart.com Fast Nav

    I’ll go out on a limb here….

    How about telling the COCOMs that we can’t do everything they want to?

  • capospin

    Steel on target with this thread of info! One must think hard as to what a LCS ship or a TF/BG made up of LCS hulls will do in a war with the PRC. It seems like a ship type in need of a real mission. We could use a new type ship that is a lot like the old Gearing DD’s not the LCS as I see it. For that mater the Spruances DD and the FFG7 should be get a FRAM job and brought back into service. The 688 SSN class should get a FRAM program as well and get these boats back into the fleet. Also why no CGN’s in the fleet. The old concept of DLGN is still a good one. ADM Rickover’s ghost is not good to go with us on this! One must understand that the numbers of ships in the Fleet is a issue. In a war we will be in combat. In combat we will get some of these ship sunk or put out of action. World War II will be the level of violence we should expect not the Cold War.

  • http://informationdissemination.blogspot.com/ Galrahn

    One must think hard as to what a LCS ship or a TF/BG made up of LCS hulls will do in a war with the PRC.

    I think the LCS will be very important in any engagement with the PRC. Indeed, I think it should be said there are going to be many, many demands for small hulls, including a great many even smaller than the LCS, in a war against the PRC. The Navy’s inability to see this is part of the problem.

    If we have learned anything from the USNS Impeccable and other incidents with China recently, one lesson is that the 400,000 domestic Chinese private vessels, many of which populate the South China Sea, will require physical inspection by sailors to determine friend and foe. They cannot be assumed neutral, but our RoE will almost certainly not allow us to presume foe either unless we are fighting the Philippines and Vietnam at the same time… all their private boats look the same after all.

    The Navy can never, ever build enough Burkes or LCSs to screen naval forces in populated sea lanes and meet requirements in a shooting war without, in my opinion, new surface warfare ideas that get align with the requirements of the maritime terrain. The battlefield is not the unpopulated blue water spaces anymore, but no adjustment is visible in force structure that reflects this enormous lesson from the Iraq war.

    The Navy pulled PCs from the Coast Guard, requested an entire CG squadron, and leased an enormous barge to defend one maritime location (Iraqi oil terminals) and a tiny Iraqi coastline. That sure raises questions regarding how the Navy expects to meet requirements in a much larger area like the Sea of Japan, Yellow Sea, South China Sea, Gulf of Aden, Black Sea, Baltic Sea, or any number of other places where currently, even the little people like Somali pirates tactically outflank our naval forces at will.

  • capospin

    Galrahn makes a good point about the need for a hi-low mic of warships in the fleet. As stated many numbers of hull/ships in the fleet matter. The missions are many and the force is to small or to few. With that understanding, is the LCS the best ship for the mission Galrahn outlined for a war with the PRC. I estimate that a DD type ship the size and firepower and performance of a Gearing or Sumner class DD is the better fit for our needs. A warship this size and type with modern equipment and power plant is what the navy needs. Not a big PC. For the money the LCS should be a smallish DD that the navy has a real need for and the Cost Guard could use as well.

  • Byron

    Cacospin, have you done any sort of research on the LCS? Extremely small crew? Automated DC? Serious questions about it’s ability to handle high seas? Serious doubts about the “modules”? It’s short sea legs(as in range)?

  • capospin

    Byron that is what I am talking about! I am with you on this. The LCS is not what we need. however a new small DD like an updated Gearing or Summer class DD would be all that the LCS is not. This would do all the things that the LCS can not do as you point out. Based on the LCS limitations one wonders why we or paying for it in the first place. The LCS has no mission in the fleet or of any good in a sea war. The DD type ship is what is needed (Gearing class size) not the LCS!

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    capospin,

    The Sumner class DD was primarily and Anti-Aircraft destroyer, and the Gearing class after FRAM-I was primarily an ASW destroyer. Apart from being larger than LCS (~700 tons larger in terms of displacement) what capabilities would these essentially one trick ponies bring to the modern fleet that is not adequately covered by the current program of record?

    I find it extremely unlikely that the USN will go back to steam powered surface ships in this size category, and when you get around to upgrading the combat systems, propulsion systems, and armament, how is the Gearing class going to differ from the current incarnation of the LCS (outfitted with mission modules) in any appreciable way. The FRAM-I and FRAM-II upgrades even added a UAV (the DASH) of sorts.

    I would like to hear specifically what you think makes the Gearing or Sumner class destroyers superior to LCS (outfitted with one of the three program of record modules) in terms of capability.

    V/R,

  • Byron

    Ben, what can LCS do TODAY? It’s a commissioned vessel in the United States Navy. What can you guarantee me that it will be able to do on it’s maiden deployment, such as it is? Which module is ready, tested and able to go aboard for the use it’s proponents claim it to be?

    I’d like to see some meat to this tale.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Benjamin,

    Perhaps the key to the comments on the Sumner-Gearings is the word “updated”. No, highly unlikely that we will see the 580-pound boilers, nor three turrets of 5-38s.

    But the point is valid. A versatile, durable, tough little vessel that is small enough to not be a dare-not-risk capital unit with enough electronics suite to be a player and weapons systems that pack a heck of a punch without “reconfiguring” when one collides with the unknown.

    It is the durability and versatility, and the excellence in multiple roles, that made the Gearings so valuable and lasting. Those elements are precisely the concerns with the LCS.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    Byron,

    Those are two tough questions, and I’ll give it a shot. LCS-1 Freedom is in the middle of the Initial Operational Test and Evaluation phase, and it appears to be conducting testing primarily associated with the primary mission area of mobility. We know that the ship has done speed testing and in the light ship configuration has exceeded 40 knots. We also know that the ship has completed a four hour full power run. Detect to engage sequences in both surface and air modes have been tested although the results have not been made public. Small boat handling, launch, and recovery have also been tested. The 57mm gun has been fired and some gunnery testing has been conducted. Auxiliary systems for aviation support have also been tested. The sea frame has conducted its first crew change over event as well. One thing that I am watching for closely is the result of the CSQTT if/when is is conducted.

    The construct of having a second round of acceptance trials is unusual, but I think this can be explained by the desire to get the ship out of the Great Lakes before icing made that impossible.

    The Program Executive Office for Littoral and Mine Warfare FY 2008 annual report states that the first of each of the Mission Modules (ASW, Mine Warfare, and ASuW) have been rolled out in FY 2008. The Mission Package Computing Environment (MPCE) has been installed on LCS-1 and LCS-2. The report also states that initial at sea integration efforts for the Anti-Submarine Warfare Module have been conducted.

    As to your second question regarding what I can guarantee you the ship (and any installed Mission Packages) will be able to do, the answer is pretty clear. I can’t guarantee you that the combination will be able to do anything, but I do think there is more progress than is being credited in the public sphere. I can guarantee that the ship and mission packages will bring more capability than a vaporware Gearing or Sumner class WWII era destroyer.

    Link to the PEO LMW annual report is:

    http://acquisition.navy.mil/rda/content/download/6110/28002/version/1/file/PEOANLRPT+WEB.pdf

    The LCS concept offers both risk and opportunity. To date (for some very good reasons) a whole lot of the focus has been on the risk and not a whole lot of ink has been spilled on the opportunites.

    V/R,

  • http://informationdissemination.blogspot.com/ Galrahn

    Galrahn’s Proverb on Risk in the Navy

    When it comes to acquisition, critics insure risk is not an option. When it comes to operations, critics complain when risks aren’t taken.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    Galrahn,

    I think I’ll appropriate that one if you don’t mind. I don’t think it is necessarily true (there are large schedule and cost risks built into the recent EMALS decision for example), but the treatment of the poor results is somewhat different in the operational world than it is in acquisition world. The handling of risk is probably worth a whole post all to itself.

    V/R,

  • http://www.informationdissemination.net/ Galrahn

    It is actually based on the theory of risk vs reward. The Dept of the Navy (both Navy and Marines) have taken a lot of risk in acquisition lately, but the Navy typically doesn’t reward risk that results in success in acquisition like they should.

    The Navy does reward risk that results in success in the operational world, although risk is discouraged as a rule.

    I don’t know if I previously highlight this or not, but I was very pleased to see Capt. Frank A. Morneau selected for flag. He took a ton of risks in the acquisition programs surrounding the MRAP, was successful, and was rewarded. Tis a rare thing.

    Compare that to how Capt. Donald Gaddis was treated last year, who became the fall guy for VH-71 despite only serving as program manager for VH-71 9 months, after previously leading the F-18 E/F/G programs for years, all of which are without question a successful series of programs. Captain Gaddis was not recommended this year, thanks not to performance, but due to assignment.

    Risk has no reward in today’s Navy, which might be why so few active Navy officers offer opinions alternative to the status quo in places like Proceedings. Risk averse can become a culture if one isn’t careful.

    I am beginning to think DDG-1000, with these fixed cost contracts, may end up an example of a risk worth a reward. Too bad the Navy has Captain Syring in a lock box.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Gal and Benjamin,

    “The handling of risk is probably worth a whole post all to itself”

    I’d be very interested in how you both see that subject, from an operational standpoint and acquisitions standpoint. So please, post away!

  • capospin

    Well folks it looks as though the LCS is still a ship without a mission. Why are we building it! For all that we are going to pay for a fleet of theme they will be no more effective as sea war fighter then President Jefferson’s harbor defense gun boat navy. He should have asked Congress for more Frigates. Today we need a modern small fast, tuff general purpose warship that has the firepower and sea endurance to take on the missile and torpedo boats in combat as well the sea control mission. We need a DD, we need a Destroyer.

  • Scott B.

    Galrahn said : “It is legitimate to question whether this platform represents a cost effective investment for the capabilities delivered and expected over a 30 year hull life.”

    Why is it taken for granted that any of the current LCS design will have a service life of 30 years ?

    Last time I checked, 30 years was the objective hull service life, whereas the threshold was 20 years in terms of hull service life.

    As a matter of fact, there is an increasing amount of indirect evidence that LCS-1 (USS Freedom) won’t have a 30-year service life, e.g. :

    1) High-speed ferries like the Corsaire 13000 monohull have repeatedly experienced structural damage in service due to slam loads.

    2) High corrosion rates are predicted due to :

    a) high speeds that produce removal of paint / protective films

    b) transom flat which present an alternate immersion environment (cathodic protection works only during immersion)

    c) high intake velocity and high sediment continent in littoral waters are going to degrade the intake coatings at an increased rate.

    d) Presence of cavitation will lead to higher corrosion damage of the nearby steel duct.

    Finally, I observe that hull service life is one of those subjects (together with O&S costs for instance) that both the LCS program manager, the PEO Ships and the Industry Teams have carefully avoided so far, which is rarely a good sign…

  • El Nardo

    As ludicrous as it may sound, I don’t think Byron’s idea of a 10 year major surface combatant holiday is unrealistic. IN fact, I believe that leadership is already heading in that direction. It is the opinion of OPNAV that the single most important SCN program today is the AEGIS Modernization program. What does that say?!

    As for LCS…Lockheed Martin had a fantastic model of an LCS that they were trying to sell to Israel. IT had 1/3 as much modularity as the US models and was packed to the gills with missiles to include VLS, Harpoon quad packs, etc. IN addition, it had a spanish-sized AEGIS. If we’re going to take a holiday from major surface combatants, the only way we can do it would be to put more fighting power on the ships we are going to build.

    And if we’re going to stop building surface combatants we need to take a hard look at stopping our building of amphibs…just a thought.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    capospin,

    Histrionics aside, the LCS is certainly not a ship without a mission. Apparently (based on public reporting) the CNO has requested a study to determine of LCS-1 will be ready and able to conduct a deployment sooner than planned (potentially truncating some of the IOT&E events). Now some assume that this is some sort of PR stunt by the CNO to somehow “prove the worth of the LCS” or some other such nonsense. I reject this assumption because I can find no sustained pressure to cancel the LCS program in either the representative or executive branches of government. If anyone can point me toward such an effort, I would be very interested in researching it. While it is popular in America to believe that the leadership of the country are either knaves, fools, or both, I have found based on my experience that broadly speaking this is just not true. I conclude then that when the CNO says he needs the LCS-1 to deploy, this is a genuine mission requirement that is being generated by the COCOMS rather than some frivolous PR opportunity.

    We can argue all day long if the material solution that has been developed to meet these mission requirements is correct (and you might win a few of those arguments since the LCS requirements generation process was very fast and perhaps not particularly well vetted), but what many are failing to understand is that the LCS is in fact the “upgraded” Gearing or Sumner class DD or SLEPed FFG. The sea frame is meant to put hulls in the water, and the Mission Package construct is meant to provide flexibility and that ability to hedge against unknowns in the combat systems arena.

    The LCS does not look like the solutions from history, but this is not particularly surprising since the solutions from history did not look like the solutions that came before them. The internet (and information dissemination in general) has progressed to the point that I think we are losing some bit of historical perspective. For instance, when I Google “missile vs. gun debate United States Navy” at least the top eight returns deal with relatively contemporary debates instead of the sweeping doctrinal changes missile technology has influenced from 1945 to present. That does not mean the debate didn’t occur. It just means that the hand wringing was done before Google, and tended to be a lot less public.

    Anyway, you seem to believe that there is a mission for updated Gearing or Sumner class DDs. I postulate that the LCS is a material solution that is meant to fill some portion of that mission that is not well (operationally, economically, etc.) covered by other platforms already in service.

    Finally, I would personally like to start seeing a debate regarding the relative strengths and weaknesses of the two different versions of the LCS. Competition was part of the acquisition strategy, and yet no one has addressed this issue in the public sphere as far as I know. It may be a little early as LCS-2 is not out and operating, but I’d like to see the aperture of the current debate widen a little to at least consider the LCS-2 sea frame.

    V/R,

  • Byron

    As I understand it, the primary responsibility of a major powers navy is split between sea control and sea denial. What part of that does LCS fall into?

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    Byron,

    To a certain extent, sea control in the littorals, but more importantly it provides the capability to counter anti-access or sea denial capabilities of the enemy.

    V/R,

  • WTH

    BW,
    Rumor is that a lot of folks see LCS-2 as being perhaps the better of the two designs, in theory. Practice hasn’t worked out so well yet.

    Byron,
    I’d modify that a bit, a weaker power is in the business of denial(FACs/mines/small subs/etc) while the stronger power is in the business of control. The theory of LCS (so far poorly executed) is to be the anti-denial platform.

    I submit that the USN needs to reconsider what it wants. As much as I hate to cite wikipedia, the “context” portion of the LAFAYETTE class page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Fayette_class_frigate) is something I think very applicable to the USN now. The USN has been forcing ships poorly suited to the role into it, but as always sailors have figured it out.

    Talk of “presence deficit” or any similar term is pretty big right now. It looks to me like the LAFAYETTE class was a pretty good solution to that issue, and derivatives have turned into some pretty darn good ships. I think the 2nd and 3rd order effects could be big as well, but that’s another discussion…

  • sid

    Finally, I would personally like to start seeing a debate regarding the relative strengths and weaknesses of the two different versions of the LCS.

    Both designs are crippled by limited payloads, problematic stability issues, lack of Survivability, and suboptimal hull types for the launch/retrieval of their main battery; all dedicated necessary to attain the mythic “Need for Speed”…

    Such a discussion would be a detailing of the finer points of each design’s unsuitabilities for Littoral COMBAT.

  • Mike M.

    The real issue is not LCS, DDG-51, or some other ship.

    It is that the Navy has failed its Naval Strategy course!

    Go back to the classics. In particular, Corbett’s “Some Principles of Maritime Strategy.”

    Corbett divided a Fleet into three functions: A battle fleet to win command of the seas, a cruiser fleet to exploit command of the seas, and a flotilla to extend that command into inshore waters. (Deep strike capabilities not existing at the time, they were not addressed)

    LCS was conceived as a flotilla ship, but grew…and grew…and grew. Everybody and his kid brother had a must-have requirement that got added on, typical for our procurement process. With the result that LCS is way too expensive for the flotilla mission, not well enough armed for the cruiser mission.

    If we are going to do a flotilla, we need to think things out. A good flotilla ship operates inshore…but under the protective cover of the main fleet. It doesn’t need super-high speed, it needs moderate firepower, decent speed, reasonable habitability, and above all, numbers.

    My own inclination? Set a cost cap of $100 million/unit. Hold a design competition with that as a firm, fixed cap. Award TWO contracts…then keep using real competition to keep the vendors honest (as well as save $$ on management costs).

    It worked for Naval Aviation all the way from the 1930s through the 1950s. It’ll work for the surface community now.

  • capospin

    Ben, I understand the Navy as a institution has put a lot of its time and money on the LCS concept. The point is that the concept is not a good one. The hole project reflects the Navies drift as it is led under a MBA school of thought. As Byron point out, the LCS can not do the sea control or sea denial mission. So what is the LCS’s mission, it does not have one. Ben talks about LCS providing a counter ant-access or sea denial capabilities to counter the enemy. This might be true if the only enemy we face will be Somalia pirates. The LCS concept is reflective of a Navy budget that seems to need a link to the GWOT. That is the mined set that got us to the LCS. How is the LCS going to fit into sea control and see denial? What is the mission of the LCS? For the tax payers money is not a modern small size DD the right ship for the many real jobs (missions) of the US Navy in a war at sea?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Survivability, hitting power, time on station.

    Any surface combatant that has “littoral” as a part of their name/mission needs some strong combination of the three. LCS seems (both designs) to be severely limited in each.

    Gearings had all three. So did the Spru-cans. Ditto the OHPs.

    The US Navy seems to be driven by the wrong criteria with LCS. The whole project reminds me of those in the business world who got so married to ISO 9000-series as an end to itself, instead of a means. Under ISO standards, one could build cement life preservers, provided there was proper and complete process documentation. The usefulness of the product did not really factor in. Ditto here for LCS.

  • http://informationdissemination.blogspot.com/ Galrahn

    Clearly all people want to talk about is the LCS. Good. The LCS is a 21st century surface warfare idea, a good one btw. I’ll put up a post as soon as time allows, and you can beat me up instead of Ben for awhile. :)

  • capospin

    O- for the love of sea power! What 21st century idea leads one to think that LCS is good for any role or mission the US Navy must do in a real fight at sea? UltimaRatoReg has steel on target with his last point made. The “Sea is Ours” but not if we go to sea in the LCS. The littorals will not be ours ether with the LCS. We can not get their from here with LCS. What is the mission of the LCS, why do we need it in the fleet?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Hey Gal,

    Could it be everyone is talking about LCS because that, ten carriers, and some SSN/SSBNs are going to be all that’s left of the Navy?

    Just askin! ;-)

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    I really don’t mind getting “beaten up” by people who are ignoring the facts and lack the initiative or imagination to understand the concepts.

    For example, if one were to take the time to critically examine some of the alternatives being espoused, they would soon come to realize that the capability that they are proposing (the Sumner/Gearing class as a recent example) just does not measure up to what will be realized as the LCS concept and material solution is matured.

    The Gearing class ships simply do not have the range and staying power that are being attributed to them in these pages. Their ranges at cruise speed are similar to the LCS ranges at cruise speed. They (like the LCS) initially disappointed the fleet with less top speed than originally anticipated and poor handling/sea keeping characteristics. The USS Meredith was lost due to a single mine hit and a near miss from an aerial bomb. It is remembered as the DD with the shortest lifespan in WWII, so I am personally left to wonder if the reputation for toughness really based on a technical reality or something else entirely. I am by no means disparaging the men that manned these vessels. In fact, I would be inclined to attribute the Gearing/Sumner class successes to the innovation and tenacity of the crews. This will prove to be the case with contemporary ship building programs as well.

    Here is a short history of the Sumner/Gearing class acquisition and service.

    http://www.people.cornell.edu/pages/wrb1/Sumner/his.html

    Read it and note parallels with current ship production programs early in execution. That these ships went on to be major contributors to the war in the Pacific as well as having a long and distinguished service life after the war should allow some to open their minds to the opportunities that will be presented by contemporary ship construction programs rather than merely focusing on the risks.

    V/R,

  • sid

    Ben, I don’t think anyone here is seriously considering a direct clone of a nearly 70 year old design for the 21st Century USN.

    However, you are entirely offbase in equating the “Staying Power” of the LCS to them. The LCS is simply not built with the critical design features such as plant redundancy, structural ruggedness, and organic firepower to make any kind of equivalent measure.

    To your point though that the Sumner/Gearings had their warts, you are entirely correct.

    Good discussion in in Friedman’s USNI published U.S. Destroyers.

    Reading through his design study volumes, you get the sense that there has never been an entirely satisfactory warship design to hit the water yet…

  • sid

    hopefully, this this corrects the link

    and if not, google, “Gearing Friedman US Destroyers”…

  • Scott B.

    Sid said : “Both designs are crippled by limited payloads, problematic stability issues, lack of Survivability, and suboptimal hull types for the launch/retrieval of their main battery; all dedicated necessary to attain the mythic “Need for Speed”…”

    Don’t forget the grossly inappropriate minimalist manning…

  • Scott B.

    Walthrop said : “Their ranges at cruise speed are similar to the LCS ranges at cruise speed.”

    Quick fact check :

    Friedman in his US Destroyers gives the following wartime ranges for the Gearing :

    5,690 NM @ 15 knots
    4,380 NM @ 20 knots

    According to the PEO Ships website :
    http://peoships.crane.navy.mil/LCS/factsheet.htm

    LCS-1 has a range of 3,500 NM @ 18 knots.

    That of course assumes she’ll ever be able to carry a full fuel load when fitted with a mission package, which is not a done deal right now because of the excessive overweight the design suffers from.

  • Byron

    And this old shipfitter will tell you what happens to an aluminum deckhouse welded to a steel hull and the ship is overburdened…lots and lots of overtime.

  • Natty Bowditch

    “What is the mission of the LCS?”

    If you have to ask this question, you are in the wrong forum.

    Those yammering about ‘sea control/sea denial’ apparently understand neither as they are fixated on WWII era sea battles. Their idea of ‘sea control/sea denial’ is pre-1940.

    BTW, the ISO-9000 analogy fails badly because it is so wrong; ISO-9000 is about continuous improvement of the product, process documentation is merely part of the means to that end.

    The LCS naysayers should really just admit they fear change; it’s more honest than the pretense we’re going to fight the Imperial Japanese Navy again.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    sid,

    Perhaps you are right, but I’m trying to respond to what has actually been written. If you don’t, I could interperate what is being posted in any number of incorrect ways. For example, the Sumner/Gearing class ships at the time of their construction were the largest destroyers produced by the United States to date. Is the suggestion that we produce the largest destroyer ever to fill the perceived capability gap. Is the author proposing that an upgraded 5″ Mk 32 gun the answer to firepower when the balloon goes up and the Navy finds itself involved in “a real fight.” I don’t think either one of those answers is the right way to go, so I’ll stick to responding to what’s known.

    Scott B.,

    I think those ranges and cruise speeds are similar. If you’re crossing the Pacific both will still require RAS. You might be right on the impact of the overweight issue, but you might not when it all gets resolved. We’ll see. Does the LCS-2 have the same weight problems?

    What makes the manning of the LCS ships grossly inappropriate? There has been a lot of discussion regarding damage control and manning, but I haven’t seen any facts that support the arguement that automating damage control is proven to be inferior to brute force methods largely employed in the fleet today. Did a large crew help the USS Samuel B. Roberts or the USS Cole survive or was it the actions of a few very capable individuals taking charge and directing relatively low manning responses.

    I believe the critiques regarding the high speed requirement are at least partially valid as the cost and trade-offs necessary to meet the objectives were not properly understood during the design/build.

    V/R,

  • TOMMAS J. KOEHLER

    CHEATING ON THE ISSUES

  • Natty Bowditch

    “And this old shipfitter will tell you what happens to an aluminum deckhouse welded to a steel hull and the ship is overburdened…lots and lots of overtime.”

    The keyword in this sentence is “old.”

    The fact is shipyards are incapable of the welding techniques and processes that have been successfully used in European and Asian yards for decades. As a result, we get the problems associated with dissimilar metals. IOW, we are trying hammer nails using a stapler–it can be done but the results usually aren’t good.

  • Byron

    Ben, does it take literature to prove that auto-DC will not able to shore a bulhead or put a patch around a holed pipe. Will the robots be able to shore up a patch in the underwater hull? If the answer is no, then how many task-critical sailors will be pulled away from consoles in the middle of the fight to save the ship? It’s brute mathematics, the calculus of damage control. Its either you have the manpower to save your ship, or you don’t.

    Natty, the ability to exercise control of the oceans at any given time the POTUS orders it is THE primary mission of the Navy. Control and denial has been practiced by the Navy since the Revolutionary war. The Navy learned it again in the quasi-war with the French, The War of 1812, the Civil War, the Spanish American War, World War 1, World War 2, and the cold war.

    Now the question I asked is pertinent to this discussion: what mission capability does LCS bring to these two “core competencies” of the US Navy?

  • Scott B.

    Walthrop said : “You might be right on the impact of the overweight issue, but you might not when it all gets resolved.”

    IF it ever gets resolved. Not exactly a done deal right now.

  • sid

    The LCS naysayers should really just admit they fear change

    Natty, you have that entirely wrong…

    The LCS is a ship conjured up from a series of disjointed, narrow engineering “solutions” chasing the mirage of “Transformationalism”…

  • sid

    Did a large crew help the USS Samuel B. Roberts or the USS Cole survive or was it the actions of a few very capable individuals taking charge and directing relatively low manning responses.

    Yes. In both cases.

    When I get the time, I will see if I can the account of the effort to save the Cole, and how fatigue was a huge factor…

  • Scott B.

    Walthrop said : “What makes the manning of the LCS ships grossly inappropriate?”

    I posted the figures many times before, and at Salamander’s place about a week ago.

    Anyway, here we go again :

    Core Crew : needs another 8 people

    Aviation Detachment : needs another 14 people

    Mission Crew : needs another 4 to 12 people (MIW MP)

    Total : needs another 26-32 people.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    Byron,

    Given the lethality of modern weapons, it is highly unlikely that there will be any hole other than relatively trivial ones that won’t endanger the ship that the crew will be able to patch given any number of crewmen. Automated damage control including fire supression systems have been used for years in land based structures, and the testing that the USN has done on the Shadwell as well as the testing done on the much beloved Spruance class ships during very valuable weapons effect testing has proven these systems to be highly effective at combating battle damage.

    If your firemain is automated enough to sense, isolate, and route around a holed pipe and provide high pressure mist in an effected space and adjacent spaces don’t you think that might be a better solution than letting a problem fester for the 10 minutes or more that it will take a manned fire party to suit up, get their hose, and finally after a painful period of waiting attack the problem. This is the automated damage response that has been designed into DDG-1000, and it has been proven to be effective in very realistic testing.

    To answer your question. Since there is credible evidence that shows automated damage control is at least as effective as a manned response I do believe that it will take some credible evidence to suggest the situation is as dire as you see it.

    V/R,

  • sid

    Given the lethality of modern weapons, it is highly unlikely that there will be any hole other than relatively trivial ones that won’t endanger the ship that the crew will be able to patch given any number of crewmen.

    Been. This is patently false…

    Same thing was said about aircraft prior to Vietnam, and this wrong notion was underscored some 5500 times over.

    Will provide appropriate cites when I can get to my books…

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    sid,

    We’re talking past each other. Aircraft survivability does not depend on a human in the loop solution as you know. Byron is claiming that surface ship survivability absolutely depends on a human in the loop solution. Provide the cites, because both you and I know that the human in the loop is not required for survivability.

    V/R,

  • sid

    Aircraft survivability does not depend on a human in the loop solution as you know. Byron is claiming that surface ship survivability absolutely depends on a human in the loop solution.

    Detail design elements matters in both Ben. However, “Staying Power” in a ship -which is not such a factor in aircraft- is heavily dependent on manual DC methods.

  • http://www.informationdissemination.net/ Galrahn

    needs another 26-32 people.

    From what I have seen, the plans for crew increase will be for around 100 crew on each ship. Basically, they would do a bit of plumbing and the racks would go from 2 high to 3 high, resulting in the same space as on a DDG.

  • sid

    Provide the cites, because both you and I know that the human in the loop is not required for survivability.

    Ben we are not talking past each other…We must be on different worlds.

    Now, tell me how an automated system is going to keep a ship alive when big chunks are simply vaporized?

  • Byron

    Ben, fellow by the name of Jones laid responsibility for saving the ship directly on the crew. Had he known about automated damage control, he first would have laughed, and then would have proceeded to kick sternquarters all the way up the Hill. You’re willing to bet the lives of those sailors, the single most expensive and important system aboard that ship that those systems will be able to handle the problem. I’m telling you that you can’t look at DC that way. You have to think in terms of redundancy. One of the lessons learned from the Starke was that the OBA was woefully inadequate. Also the number of canisters was also not nearly enough. Hundreds were vert rep’d to Starkes flight deck so the crew could keep fighting persistent fires in the wireways.

    Now you’re willing to bet to bet the lives of these “hybrid sailors” that in the dangerous litorals that their ship will not sink or leave them dead in the water. And by the way, until they invent robots, auto systems cannot do shoring. And not every pipe aboard ship is duplicated, to the point where one holed system could be isolated while switching over to another. What if it’s jacket cooling water? Cooling water for all the fancy electronics? Lose water, lose a lot of stuff. Fuel line holed from shrapnel? Easy temporary fix, taught in school to sailors every day, fix it, while your shipmates fight the battle. That’s why at GQ you have DC parties ready to handle battle damage. They are just as essential as the FC or the CO.

  • sid

    Basically, they would do a bit of plumbing and the racks would go from 2 high to 3 high, resulting in the same space as on a DDG.

    Just what an overweight ship -in which loading is critical for mission effectiveness- needs…

  • TOMMAS J. KOEHLER

    CHEATING ON THE ISSUES

    By highlighting ”surface warfare” coupled with a 313 ship compliment, all of the thoughtfull issues are crammed into the traditional boxes, and we continue to miss the issue==mission.

    Gold braided heads are buried in the sand dreaming of monstrous carrier task forces with half billion dollar aereoplanes posed on deck, and white hats lined up spelling out ‘bankrupt’.In the forseeable future there are only two powers worth a carrier Task Force: China and India. Policy needs to wrassle with this.

    It is pretty much visable from the success of Boston Whalers and Chris-Crafts off somalia that the Navy of tommorrow should be, Not billions for stealth {unachievable anyhow–at sea] but millions for SNEAK. 313 fast, multi-capable, adaptable, sneak boats should be at the top of the list.

    Proposal: set up a DARPA type project office to design an under 60 ft, 40 knt, less than 500 k boat [ not a ‘platform,PUH-LEASE},
    designed around a half containor mission module to do this and that, possibly in teams or triplets. Root out a dozen mother ships out of the reserve fleet, and with-in 2 years have a capable hot-rod navy.For no more than 25 million, you have a presence,not a study.

    Roar around the Straight of Hormuz for a while,rip of some fireworks on the fourth–you talk about presence. Gotcha.

    Stop dead all these floating carrier carnivals and reconvert three-quarters of those marine expeditionary force [ when was the last ‘expedition’??] mini-carriers into our first-line carrier fleet. Do a one year limited design and fly off for a cheap multi-mission airplane easily reconfigured for multi-roles and production line economy.Go fast is gone.

    Of course [and off course]the problem is mental. It is almost imposible to find an ex, or serving officer who has not been indoctrinated into the John Lehman school of thought.The first challenge is building diverse,over-paid, broadly trained, un-supervised, mission oriented,thought pods [ how do you like that pp’s–a free acronum too]. People solo in ivory towers, lounging in teams by the pool, or playing pin-ball. One Year,500,000 USD, Free Reign, anything they want or need, zero bureaucratic hoops or clearances, and lord help us; what wonders you would behold.

    We have already given you two free, and we at the Nolichuckey Mountain Institute stand ready to deliver a few more [ on the above terms].

    TOMMAS J KOEHLER
    WARFARE DIRECTORATE
    NOLICHUCKEY MOUNTAIN INSTITUTE
    A SUBSIDARY OF LORKO ENTERPRISES LLC

  • Scott B.

    Galrahn said : “From what I have seen, the plans for crew increase will be for around 100 crew on each ship.”

    I’ve seen exactly one article (in Navy Times ealier this year) and one brief (by Phil Dore and Dan Hogan, dated September 2007)suggesting that accommodations on LCS-2 could be expanded from 76 to 99.

    Which is a pretty implicit recognition that the current crew of 76 is going to be insufficient.

    Which also means that, even with a crew of 99, you’re still short of (at least) 3 to 9 for MIW.

    Which makes me wonder what the impact of cramming 99 instead of 76 will be in terms of crew comfort, habilitability,…

    I’ve seen absolutely nothing suggesting that accommodations might be expanded the same way on LCS-1, and until something semi-official emerges from either the Navy or LockMart, I will safely assume accommodations on LCS-1 is 75, which is exactly the number given on the LM LCS Team website

  • TOMMAS J. KOEHLER

    hot dog. another economy,no spell check

    tjk
    ni

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Natty,

    The ISO 9000 analogy was that people took the program to be an end in itself instead of the means of continuous improvement. It skewed the priorities of product development. I have had a hand in implementing ISO in a couple of different places, and think it is by and large a good thing. But like anything else, if it is taken to be an end by itself (like a CG inspection) it will not produce the intended results.

    I like the concept of the LCS. As long as it is survivable, packs a hell of a punch ALL THE TIME, and has good on-station endurance. A vessel that does not sufficiently possess those qualities may be CALLED a Littoral Combat Ship, but should never be considered one.

    Also, if sea denial is so 1940s, then why is China engaged so heavily in just that?

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    sid,

    Good example. The USS Cole survived because the survivability was engineered into the design. The functions that were performed manually either had little to do with the survival of the ship or probably could have been automated to a large degree. The USS Cole was not alive from a continuing combat perspective and no amount of manpower stationed on the ship would have changed that equation.

    The notion of sustaining credible combat operations after absorbing a strike from a modern weapon has not been proven as feasible on the USS Princeton, USS Stark, USS Samual B. Roberts, and USS Cole. All those ships had large crews.

    V/R,

    V/R,

  • UltimaRatioReg

    *Burma Shave*

    To the ISO 9000-series, there are similar revelations at times to what a CG/IG reveals. That being the comment; “Gee, we should be doing this ALL the time!”

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Ben,

    “The notion of sustaining credible combat operations after absorbing a strike from a modern weapon has not been proven as feasible…”

    I would submit that it depends on the weapon. The less able the platform is to absorb battle damage, the smaller and more prevalent the weapon can be which can disable that platform.

  • Scott B.

    Walthrop said : “Given the lethality of modern weapons, it is highly unlikely that there will be any hole other than relatively trivial ones that won’t endanger the ship that the crew will be able to patch given any number of crewmen.”

    According to the NATO SLC Study (May 2004), the required warhead weight required for destruction / severe damage is 89 kg (196 lbs) for the 2,000-ton surface combatant.

    I have a hard time believing it would take much more against the slightly heavier LCS-1, especially with the considerable overweight that’s accummulated over the years.

    Furthermore, as you already know, the GAO noted, in its March 2009 report on Weapon Programs, that :

    “In fact, an inclining experiment performed during acceptance trials showed LCS-1 may not meet Navy stability requirements for the damaged ship condition.”

    GAO report, page 106 :
    http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d09326sp.pdf

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    URR,

    You are of course correct. I’m damn glad we’ve been successful in containing the proliferation of anti-ship cruise missiles and mines. Oh…wait. Manpower for Damage Control will not solve this problem, and really only serves to put more people at risk.

    V/R,

  • Scott B.

    Walthrop said : “the human in the loop is not required for survivability.”

    Human in the loop is an essential ingredient in recoverability, which is one of the dimensions of survivability.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    So Benjamin,

    I hadn’t realized we were enforcing non-proliferation of ASM and mine technologies. Let alone designing ships with that as a planning assumption.

    And can I deduce from the thrust of your comments that we are putting fewer crew aboard the LCS because it stands NO chance of survival, and the fewer sailors who go down with them, the better? I would like to see the slogan for THAT recruiting campaign….

  • Scott B.

    Walthrop said : “The notion of sustaining credible combat operations after absorbing a strike from a modern weapon has not been proven as feasible on the USS Princeton”

    I beg to differ.

    This is straight from the Damage Control, Fire Protection Engineering and CBR-D website (NAVSEA) on the Princeton incident :

    “As a result, PRINCETON ‘was able to quickly resume duties as Local Anti Air Warfare Commander. Even in her damaged condition with the after 5 inch 54 gun and after Vertical Launching System out of commission, PRINCETON remained the most potent warship in the area, still able to launch Standard surface to air missiles and Tomahawk land attack missiles.

    (snip)

    Shortly after daybreak, 24 hours after the initial mine explosion, PRINCETON was towed clear of the mine field and the crew secured from General Quarters. The combat systems and CIC teams set their Condition III watches, but retained maximum readiness to respond to any threat. It would be four more hours before PRINCETON was able to turn over the duties as Local AntiAir Warfare Commander to USS VALLEY FORGE who had closed the area from the south. This extraordinary 30 hour period is indicative of the very best from our Naval Officers and Men.”

    Here is the entire article :
    http://www.dcfp.navy.mil/mc/museum/Princeton/mine91.htm

  • Scott B.

    URR said : “And can I deduce from the thrust of your comments that we are putting fewer crew aboard the LCS because it stands NO chance of survival, and the fewer sailors who go down with them, the better?”

    That sounds like Streetfighter.

    With a $700+ million pricetag…

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    Scott B.,

    The manpower for recoverability in the case of the Cole, Roberts, and Stark largely came from outside the lifelines of the ship. Are you arguing that if the ships had a the right level of manning they should be able to recover themselves? I don’t think that is particularly realistic given the efficacy of the threats.

    URR,

    As you know that is not my point. The point is that if you can design in survivability with limited humans in the loop why would you intentionally put more people at risk than you have to to accomplish the mission.

    V/R,

  • sid

    The notion of sustaining credible combat operations after absorbing a strike from a modern weapon has not been proven as feasible on the USS Princeton, USS Stark, USS Samual B. Roberts, and USS Cole.

    Because of the design philosophies in place through the nuclear years Ben.

    The functions [aboard the Cole] that were performed manually either had little to do with the survival of the ship or probably could have been automated to a large degree.

    An on-the-spot rescue party formed: Regal, Damage Controlman 3rd Class William Merchen, Fireman Daniel Sullivan and Master Chief Sonar Technician (SW) Paul Abney. Hustling down the starboard passageway and back across the ship, they heard screams and voices from inside the chiefs’ mess, just forward of the galley and close to the explosion’s center point.
    “There’s people in here!” someone yelled. Using their hands, feet and whatever they could grab, the sailors tore down the thin bulkhead and fought their way inside to a room that had been turned upside down. Bodies were everywhere.
    Immediately, they had to make life-or-death choices. If an injured sailor didn’t respond, they moved to the next, searching for the living, carrying them back to where Campbell and Sanchez were working.

    Then, above decks, everyone heard a bulkhead give way. Torrents of water poured into Aux 2.
    “At that point, we realized we weren’t going to save that space,” Peterschmidt said. “So we pulled out the dewatering equipment, and we dropped the hatches.”
    But now, the water pressure was building on the seal in Main 2, adjacent to Aux 2, dislodging the wedging material Hayes and Regal had pounded into place two days before. Main 2 contained the Cole’s only working engine. If the leak were not stopped, it could flood Main 2 and the engine, killing any chance of ever getting the crippled ship under way.
    Worse, flooding in that space meant the ship was in serious danger of sinking.
    “You’d have two of the biggest spaces on the ship filled with water,” Dubbs said. “And it just would have went.”
    About the same time, the generator ran out of fuel.
    The ship was plunged into total darkness. Permanent dewatering equipment was rendered inoperable as water poured into Main 2 at about 15 gallons a minute, slowly filling the huge space.

    “For a ship that was on the verge of the 21st century, in a lot of ways, we went back and did a lot of the things that our grandfathers did in World War II,” Peterschmidt said.
    “And for all those people who say, well, maybe we lack something that the other generation had – I didn’t see it.”

  • Scott B.

    Walthrop said : “The manpower for recoverability in the case of the Cole, Roberts, and Stark largely came from outside the lifelines of the ship.”

    And what sources you base this claim upon ? Can I see them ? Can the rest of the audience see them ?

  • Scott B.

    Meanwhile, here is the NAVSEA DCFP entry on USS Roberts :
    http://www.dcfp.navy.mil/mc/museum/ROBERTS/Roberts2.htm

    With just one quick quote, because EVERYONE should read the entire article :

    “It is a story of a ship that refused to die. The crew was well-trained, well-disciplined and had tremendous pride, spirit and courage throughout the entire ordeal,” said CDR Rinn as they were being towed to port. “It is a tribute to good training and good damage control.”

  • sid

    The point is that if you can design in survivability with limited humans in the loop why would you intentionally put more people at risk than you have to to accomplish the mission.

    Ben, yes there is a place for automated systems. This is not an either/or debate.

    Problem is, the LCS concept always pushed Survivability to the far end of the “Susceptibility Reduction” end of the Survivability equation.

    In short, the combat survivability of the ship is almost entirely dependent on it not being hit…largely as a function of the very high design speed, which its now nearly certain no deployed unit will ever be able to bend on.

    Even with NVR, the ship still can’t stay and fight. From the Nov ’08 CRS report:

    The LCS was earlier conceived as a ship that would be built to a survivability standard that would be sufficient, in
    the event of significant battle damage, to save the ship’s crew, but not necessarily the ship. The survivability standard
    for the LCS was increased as part of the issuing of NVR to one that would be sufficient to save not only the ship’s
    crew, but the ship as well. (Other U.S. Navy combat ships are built to a still-higher survivability standard that is
    sufficient not only to save the crew and the ship, but to permit the ship to keep fighting even though it has sustained
    damage.)

    A “Blackhawk Down/Bat-21″ scenario in waiting. But worse.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    And if Aux 2 and Main 2 had flooded to the waterline the ship would not have sunk regardless of the opinion of Dubbs. These were indeed heroic, but largely unnecessary actions in terms of keeping the ship afloat. To the ship’s credit, I believe they were getting terrible technical advice from the engineers back in the US who should have known better. At any rate, it looks like the actions were taken by teams of two or three people and not large monolithic repair parties.

  • sid

    And if Aux 2 and Main 2 had flooded to the waterline the ship would not have sunk…

    And if she had taken similar damage at sea with the hull working (like the Sheffield), your supposition would not hold water Ben.

    (pardon the really bad pun)

    At any rate, it looks like the actions were taken by teams of two or three people…

    You are completely ignoring the issue of fatigue. How long could those “two or three people” sustain the herculean efforts required Ben?

    Also, “two or three people,” is what percantage of the LCS core crew?

    Will the right, “two or three people” be alive to stem the damage?

  • sid

    In other words, the +183% cost overruns that was supposed to buy some (very limited) survivability may not translate into any meaningful survivability improvement…

    Time and again, thesefolks try and make the point that Survivability (in particular “Vulnerability Reduction”) needs to be incorporated into the design process, during the initial stages.

  • Scott B.

    sid said : “Even with NVR, the ship still can’t stay and fight.”

    Again, LCS-1 may not even be able to meet Navy stability requirements for the damaged ship condition.

    Which would be ironic, given that the much touted NVR, which were supposed to decrease the vulnerability of the LCS, is one of the main factors that drove the cost up (or so says Fred Moosaly of LockMart).

    In other words, the +183% cost overruns that was supposed to buy some (very limited) survivability may not translate into any meaningful survivability improvement…

  • Byron

    Ben, have you ever flaked out a dewatering pump and it’s hoses? Wrenched down and dogged down hatches and scuttles? In near panic? With part of the crew at GQ?

    And last but not least, I talked at length with an FC2 from the Starke not a month after the ordeal. According to him, they fought the fires to a standstill BY THEMSELVES. Additional stores of OBAs and dewatering gear were brought aboard, as were addition medical teams, but not for several hours after the missilel strikes. And last but not least, I’ve walked the decks of Starke and Roberts. Hell, I’m still working on Roberts!!!

  • Scott B.

    sid said : “Also, “two or three people,” is what percantage of the LCS core crew? Will the right, “two or three people” be alive to stem the damage?”

    At this stage, it’s worth remembering that there is exactly ONE Electrician Mate (EM1 to be accurate) in the 40 core crew.

  • Scott B.

    Here is what the PEO Ships, RADM Bill Landay, recently stated in an interview for Defense News :

    “As you move to a smaller crew, you go to a more integrated system, which is a more complex system, which can wind up being a burden on the crew.”

    Sobering…

  • Scott B.

    Byron said : “And last but not least, I talked at length with an FC2 from the Starke not a month after the ordeal. According to him, they fought the fires to a standstill BY THEMSELVES.”

    USS Stark was hit for the first time at 21:09, and for the second time at 21:10 on May 17, 1987.

    DC Teams from USS Waddell and USS Conyngham didn’t move aboard until the following day in the morning.

  • TOMMAS J. KOEHLER

    JEEPERS–JUST CANT GET THESE KNOT HEADS OFF SURVIVABILITY AND LCS-1-2-X, AND ALUMINUM TO STEEL WELDING. AND HERE WE ARE, GOLLY GEE, AT THE FOOT OF THE CLASS, WONDERING WHAT DO WE WANT A NAVY–OUR NAVY–TO DO.? WHERE ARE YOU, ADMIRAL MAHAN WHEN WE NEED YOU SO MUCH. BARON VON CLAUSWITCH [SP ?]AT THIS POINT EVEN JOLTIN JOE WOULD HELP.

    YOU GUYS ON SURVIVABILITY; REMEMBER THE IRREDUCABLE POSTULATES.: BIG SHIPS,BIG CREWS,BIG CASUALTIES: ARMOR,AND FACSIMILIES WERE NEVER DESIGNED TO REDUCE CASUALTIES BUT TO PRESERVE FUNCTION, KEEPING THE CREW ALIVE–OR FUNCTIONING IS A BY PRODUCT.

    KOEHLER
    NOLICUCKEY MOUNTAIN INSTITUTE

  • sid

    From LITTORAL COMBAT SHIP (LCS)MANPOWER REQUIREMENTS ANALYSIS, an NPS thesis:

    The damage control philosophy is to engage the RRT tothe scene immediately after the casualty. The RRT will estimate the damage and augmentation required. If the damage is beyond their capability, then the decision must be made whether or not to use the automation and installed firefighting system to isolate the damage. This is important especially if the affected space is a critical space. [my emphasis] If the damage is too large for the RRT and the decision is made not to use the installed firefighting system, then additional personnel will be required by standing down watch stations that are deemed non essential to the operation at hand.….

    Which is kinda interesting, considering that in the “Scoop Deck” blog over at Navy Times in the post ‘No One Is Expendable’, RADM Arthur Johnson is quoted as saying, Freedom and its follow-on ships have exactly the number of sailors they need to operate, with each individual sailor responsible for multiple tasks, and Johnson said he worried about the toll of that workload

    And that is before any rounds are exchanged.

  • sid

    YOU GUYS ON SURVIVABILITY… ARMOR,AND FACSIMILIES WERE NEVER DESIGNED TO REDUCE CASUALTIES BUT TO PRESERVE FUNCTION…

    Tommy, glad to see that you are getting up to speed here.

    You have defined “Staying Power”.

    “Staying Power” wins battles Tommy.

    Now you just need to join the 21st century, and understand that “Vulnerability Reduction” in a modern warship is NOT synonymous with archaic BB armor.

  • Scott B.

    sid said : “From LITTORAL COMBAT SHIP (LCS)MANPOWER REQUIREMENTS ANALYSIS, an NPS thesis:”

    Now look at the manning requirement Douangaphaivong came up with, e.g. page XV of the Exec Sum :

    “Even with these new business practices with associated manpower requirement estimates (~45 for seaframe, ~55 for MIW module, ~50 for ASW module, and ~45 for SUW module) the totals sum to about 90-100 manpower requirements, or 15-25 more than the original threshold of 75.”

    Just sayin’… ;)

  • capospin

    outstanding information and a depth of ideas on the LCS in this thread/blog. However one point is not made. What is the the US Navy mission for the LCS? Although it is costing a great deal of tax dollars, the LCS does not seem to live up to its political hype. The short sighted GWOT (now know as operational contingence) is not a sound justification. Why does the US Navy need the LCS?

  • Byron

    Scott, I could walk in the dark, from the quarterdeck, and put my hands on the spot where the missiles hit. The FC said he’d have nightmares for his whole life, seeing over and over again the sight of his shipmates caught in the ladder well coming out berthing, the fire rushing out to envelop them. I can remember this even like it was yesterday.

  • Byron

    Hey, Mr. ALL CAPS: You don’t weld steel to aluminum. You have to have a bi-metallic between them. I’ve worked with the stuff for nearly 30 years, you care to tell me anything about it?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Capo,

    We have run up against the requirement to be competent across the warfighting spectrum. The LCS (not as designed, but as a concept) has been around by other forms and names since the coming of steel ships. It is the omissions, it would seem, that have many troubled.

    And for Mr. KOEHLER, “YOU GUYS ON SURVIVABILITY”. You betcha we are on survivability. Crew survival is very important. But keeping the unit in the fight is sometimes even more important. Having that warship and her capabilities remain in the fight may be the difference between winning and losing. Which, we should remind ourselves from time to time, is pretty damned important. And no certain thing against an enemy that can bring near comparable combat power to bear, even temporarily.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Capo,

    Here are ADM Roughead’s words:

    “When I send a carrier strike group forward, or when I send an amphibious ready group forward with a Marine Expeditionary Unit on board, I don’t know what they are going to end up doing,” said Adm. Gary Roughead, the chief of naval operations. “Therefore, the way that we view our training, the way that we view our capabilities, has to be packaged for this range of actions.”

    Which hearkens back to a vessel that is a flexible, survivable, powerful unit capable of many tasks, including littoral combat.

  • sid

    flexible, survivable, powerful unit

    Which is not the same as, “mega-expensive, gargantuan, impregnable, dreadnought”.

    But a warship that fits within a cohesive Operational framework that Mike M very correctly observes above is woefully absent.

  • Byron

    If Johnson, Hoel, and Roberts had not lasted as long as they did, there would have been a bloodbath in the Philipines. They held the line against the cream of the Imperial Japanese Navy until the enemy retired from the battlefield, confused, concerned, and bloodied…by destroyer escorts. If those had been LCS, they wouldn’t have lasted 5 minutes. Only the crews of those three brave ships kept them afloat AND fighting long enough to guard the flank of the invasion fleet. THAT’s what we’re talking about, Ben. The most important material aboard a ship are the ones that are living. They are what makes a ship. Not the fancy concepts, not the Tiffany weapons or sensors or modules. The sailors who go down to the sea to sail our warships. You protect and nurture that treasure, you got a hell of a Navy. You tell them to go to sea and maybe come back? Maybe another story.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    “If those had been LCS, they wouldn’t have lasted 5 minutes.”

    This statement deserves some explanation. The Johnson, Hoel, and Roberts were all sunk by enemy gun fire. Are you sure LCS wouldn’t have lasted for 5 minutes. Perhaps the LCS would have carried the day.

    You are right about one thing. When we put reasonably good tools in the hands of US Sailors they’ll awe you with what they can use those tools to do even if the tool is less than optimal.

    V/R,

  • Byron

    You did speak to the lethality of modern weapons? I submit that much the same situation applied to the tin cans in the face of the Yamato and her sisters at Taffy 3. The differnce is the sailors who fought to save the ship and keep her fighting doing damage control, while the others fought the Japanese. LCS will NOT be able to do that. One decent hole in the main space. ONE. It takes at least 4-6 people to shore up a hole. They have to be fast. They can’t be worried about leaving a sensor or weapons panel unmanned. Their sole mission is keeping the ship afloat and in the fight. These hybrid sailors won’t have that luxury.

  • sid

    This statement deserves some explanation.

    Friedman does an excellent job of this in his US Destroyers

    In many cases, what mattered most was not so much the ultimate loss of the ship as her ability to keep fighting despite fatal damage. This was particularly the case with the “small boys” covering the escort carriers off Samar.
    Their mere survival, with torpedo tubes intact, represented a threat that the Japanese commander had to respect.

    The Johnston is a great example. He critical component redundancy and separation came into play when she absorbed 3 14 in. shells in her after machinery spaces. Then she was hit by 3 light cruiser shells. While her after engine and boiler rooms were lost, she was able to still make 17 knots with her forward plant.

    Also, the protected cabling from the aft 5 inch director allowed 2 of her 3 aft 5 inch mounts to continue in partial director control, albeit without power. The third mount continued to fire in local control.

    How “split” is the LCS plant?

    Does the LCS 57mm mount have a local, no power mode?

    Her steering was shifted aft (is there a manual aft steering station aboard the LCS?), and she continued in the fight for two and one half hours after initially charging into an opposing force possessing overwhelming firepower. A large measure of her continued combat effectiveness lay in the radar directed control of her forward mounts, which stayed operational largely due to judicious cable and wave guide armoring shielding those components from splinter damage.

    The 1946 BuShips report stated, “But for the continued presence of the enemy after the ship was immobilized, it is likely the Johnston could have survived. No uncontrolled fires were raging, no serious list had developed ( a tribute effective compartmentation-the LCS is like a couple of basketball gyms internally), and the rate of flooding was slow enough to permit control if attention could have been given to the problem.

    Its highly doubtful those “2 or 3 people” on the LCS could similarly cope with the necessary DC efforts it would take for those 21/2 hours, and there is no doubt anyone extra would be able to be spared.

    The BuShips report finishes with, “Few destroyers in their battle performance have more completely capitalized on their design features than Johnston. That she fought so effectively at such a critical time for over two hours after severe initial damamge not only inspires deep admiration for her ship’s company (which was large enough to sustain casualties and still function), but also considerable confidence in her design and construction.”

    So yeah, Ben, the way the LCS is constructed and manned…She wouldn’t last 5 minutes

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “LCS is like a couple of basketball gyms internally”

    Super. Are we going to re-learn a 150 year old lesson in ship design?

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    I have been convinced by the evidence. Let’s build DE’s.

    V/R,

  • Grampa Bluewater

    Ben:

    A DE is an obsolete designation for a frigate. A small general purpose escort destroyer, optimized for the most significant threat and with significant but limited capability to deal with all existant threats, including a very limited capability to sink much larger and more capable ships.

    Let’s build as many as possible.

    Minimum warship manning was once defined as that sufficient to fight the ship and control damage simultaneously, with a significant part of the crew dead or injured.

    Still should be.

  • capospin

    Steel on target, fire for effect Grampa bluewater! Yes, we need a DE! or a DD that is small but many in number. The main point is we need a Tincan type warship not the LCS. As these blogs and post show, the LCS has no real mission and can fit into no known Navy mission in a real war at sea.

  • Chuck Hill

    “YOU GUYS ON SURVIVABILITY; REMEMBER THE IRREDUCABLE POSTULATES.: BIG SHIPS,BIG CREWS,BIG CASUALTIES: ARMOR,AND FACSIMILIES WERE NEVER DESIGNED TO REDUCE CASUALTIES BUT TO PRESERVE FUNCTION, KEEPING THE CREW ALIVE–OR FUNCTIONING IS A BY PRODUCT.”

    In general though, the larger the vessel the less likely it is to sink catastrophically. One mine or one torpedo that disables an 8,000 ton ship might fold a 2,000 ton ship in half, and take it to the bottom with virtually all hands.

  • Byron

    Amen, Grandpa Bluewater, amen!

  • sid

    To Ben’s point though, the Fletchers at Samar were top end, “big” DD’s…On 2100 tons displacement.

    The Roberts -a DE- was disabled within 10 minutes, and her lack of comparable attributes in speed (no ship there needed to go 50 kts.), redundancy, compartmentation, etc., was a primary reason she could not carry on the fight nearly as long as the Johnston and Hoel.

    Expanding this detour away from the minutiae of the LCS…

    The USN can no longer ignore Unit “Staying Power” as it has since the dawn of the nuclear age. We can no longer build the numbers necessary to allow a future Nimitz say, “We have more planes and ships than the enemy has bullets”, as he did during Okinawa.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    Granpa Bluewater,

    The good thing is that your wish has been granted already. They’re called DDG-51s today.

    V/R,

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Sid,

    Excellent point on the original “Sammy B”. There has been discussion on this site on numerous occasions that the SIZE of the LCS is about right. Big enough to carry impact weapon systems and electronics suite, but small enough to not be a capital unit. Which, the 14,000-ton DDG-1000 most certainly is. It’s the other attributes, or lack thereof, where criticism is leveled.

    Also, right on regarding “staying power”. We are no longer launching two hulls a week as replacements for damaged/sunk units.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    sid,

    Serious question. How would you package what is being sold in these comments as a survivable surface ship in the 2000 to 3000 displacement range with 18 ft draft, appropriate armament, a crew that is big enough to fight the ship while simultaneously conducting major damage control (since 100 is apparently not enough please propose a number), and with a reasonable top speed (say 33 knots just for fun). Additionally lets put a cost cap on the design of $460m when you ammortized the R&D across a 30 ship production run.

    V/R,

  • Byron

    Visby. Nansen.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    Visby: Displaces ~600 tons and has a crew of 43. I don’t think that meets your own requirements for damage control, and it doesn’t meet the size requirements outlined in my question.

    Nansen: Displaces ~5500 tons and has a crew of ~125. Do you think that 125 meets your own requirements for damage control? Again, the displacement is outside the stated range.

  • sid

    One mine or one torpedo that disables an 8,000 ton ship might fold a 2,000 ton ship in half, and take it to the bottom with virtually all hands.

    Much also depends on the details of design…More so than many people realize.

    A tragically vivid example of this is the horrific loss of the Liscome Bay -a Casablanca Class CVE- in the Gilberts. Hit by a sub launched Long Lance, the aft two thirds of the ship was instantly blown away, and over 800 men -3/4 of her crew- were lost. Her remains slipped under in a little over 20 minutes.

    You can find the War Loss Report here (#45). Section 6 of the Summary describes a critical vulnerability (and provides a cautionary tale for those who want to put Marines on civil standard built America class follow-ons) in the C-3 hull CVE conversions. Due to the press of war, no splinter protection was provided to the converted holds that served as magazines.

    The report notes the Sangamon CVEs, built on T2 tanker hulls, did not share this vulnerability. They had a liquid layer surrounding their magazines.

    So, that’s just the price of war you say?

    Well, guess so, when you can afford it as we could in 1943. Can we afford to lose 1000 Marines in a similar manner aboard a built to civil standards LHA tomorrow?

    Not if we expect to win whatever battle is at hand.

    Nothing to do but scrap the class and just build Essex’s? That wasn’t affordable even then. But scroll down a little to #49 in that link, and you will find the Loss Report of the Block Island -another Casablanca- seven months later from another sub launched torpedo attack.

    In fact, she took three torpedo hits. If she had not been hit by the third one, she likely would have been saved. So, what was the difference?

    Just a design detail added that had originally been considered too low priority to mess with…

    Although two of the torpedo hits were in the vicinity of the bomb magazines, the authorized alterations by the Bureau [due to the Liscome Bay disaster] to improve the protection of these magazines appear to have contributed to the prevention of a magazine explosion.

    So, its not necessarily displacement that makes the crucial difference in the ability to absorb battle damage. Nor is it necessarily a matter of tons of armor and tons of money.

    Careful attention to design details, with an eye towards “Vulnerability Reduction” in ships “meant to fight” from the earliest stages of a program’s life, is what matters most.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    sid speaks with big medicine in his post. Survivability is one of the reasons that the technical community insisted on incorporating NVR into the LCS design even though it came very late in the process.

    I really don’t know enough of the details to get a good grip on how much (if any) that has improved the survivability of the class over straight commercial standards. I believe the intent was correct even though it was clearly a cost driver for multiple reasons.

  • http://www.informationdissemination.net/ Galrahn

    I’ve seen absolutely nothing suggesting that accommodations might be expanded the same way on LCS-1

    I have seen it, and I know others have too.

    I have even had the opportunity to ask questions based on my discussions with the ‘Blue Crew’ Chief who ran the kitchen regarding whether the galley has the capacity needed to store and prepare food for more crew. I asked about the plumbing for a larger bathroom/shower requirement. I asked other questions based on what I saw myself in the specific rooms where the extra crew would be added on the ship.

    I have asked the Navy about what additional ratings would be added, and why.

    The LM LCS number is 100, and the very rough unofficial estimate cost for conversion is about $3m. I think that is a fair estimate based on what I know, asked, and the answers responded.

    As far as I know though, these changes have not been ordered for the existing ships, although I believe an official design study (all I have seen is unofficial) is planned.

  • sid

    Survivability is one of the reasons that the technical community insisted on incorporating NVR into the LCS design even though it came very late in the process.

    I would posit the less than acceptable improvment has much to do with the problems of dealing with a ship so badly compromised in so many ways to make 50 knots.

    Speed that was (speciously) deemed essential for the ships’ survival and combat effectiveness.

    And, per G’s comment above, they will be made heavier.

    So, there goes the, “Speed is Life” plan….

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    sid,

    I generally agree with your outlook on speed from a suface, air, or even land based threat scenario, but speed might equate to life in a submarine threat scenario. Thoughts?

    V/R,

  • sid

    Ben, it would seem to me that you can’t get around the physics of sound.

    Very high speed simply makes a skimmer a blind, bright, acoustic beacon.

    At least in my experience, and especially in a multi sub scenario…

    And, would 50 knots (not that any real world LCS will make that speed), make a difference big enough over, say 35 kts, to make up for all the other attendant shortcomings that it forces?

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    Detection is only part of the kill chain. If a torpedo’s top speed is in the 50-55kt range, then depending on attack geometry a 40kt ship vice a 30kt ship would have a better chance of outrunning the torpedo’s max range before the torpedo was able to finish the kill chain. If that were to happen, the submarine would probably be dead, as the air assets would have very good datum to prosecute the submarine. At the very least it would complicate a submarine commander’s decision making process.

    I bring up the discussion point because much of the LCS discussion has been framed around some assumed doctrine and missions that don’t necessarily apply.

  • Chuck Hill

    Think the “speed is life” plan was tried with a type called battle cruisers back when it seemed to make more sense–before airplanes and guided projectiles. Didn’t work out.

  • sid

    Thats fine Ben, if the torpedo is detected in time.

    Neither LCS has a hull mounted sonar (and would be quenched at 50 kts anyway), so how will they even know a torpedo is coming?

    Assuming detection does occur sufficiently in time somehow, will the LCS have the sea room to run off from the threat at 50 kts? If the attack is to landward, good chance she will not.

    The LCS will be spending a considerable amount of time at very low speeds, launching and retrieving her main battery of offboard robots and boats, and helos. Can she accelerate and turn in mid evolution with her side door open, getting the RMS aboard? Or landing a VBSS with her stern doors open?

  • Byron

    Easier to kill the archer than it is to outrun the arrows.

  • http://www.informationdissemination.net/ Galrahn

    Let’s build as many (frigates) as possible.

    For what role? Where is the need for more frigates? Show me one example where a frigate would be optimal over the LCS. Where is the firepower deficiency in the US Navy today? What possible use is a frigate, other than as a hull placement holder and as a mobile flight deck for RW, we don’t desire the frigates we got, much less desire to buy more.

    It is fair to question the design features of the LCS, but the concept is solid. There is a clear need today the LCS fills. Will it fill the need well? That remains an unanswered question.

    We are replacing helicopters on DDG-51 Flight IIAs to meet demand TODAY for ISR in the Gulf of Aden, Bainbridge being a great example, when the LCS can fill that role and greatly expand our information apparatus of the battle space.

    That is not what a frigate could do. A frigate would simply add more firepower to the abundance of firepower we are NOT using to a battlespace we demand better information in so that we can better appropriate the use of the firepower we already have in the region.

    If someone doesn’t see the need for a ship to enable the information space of the modern maritime battlefield today, you are simply not paying attention to global operations and challenges naval forces are dealing with absent that capability. Is the LCS the best fit for meeting that requirement? I don’t think so, I think it will meet about half the demand, the unmanned half (and not at a very high capacity, although starting small on new concepts is not a bad approach either).

    On the point of fighting after damage, neither Stark nor Roberts could fight after their hit, the damage control effort was specific towards not sinking. Damage control for both ships was never primarily towards the end of recovering the ships fighting capability, it was purely a secondary concern.

    I submit the LCS is going to be a lot easier to keep from sinking than frigates, because it is designed to float when beat to hell. I say the same about the JHSV, although they will both look like ugly ducks beat to hell.

    Both platforms are well engineered to float and manage fire. The fire on LCS-1 while still in the yard turned out to confirm what a good investment the efforts in Mobile have been on developing fire fighting technologies on our naval ships, because where the technologies were in place, there was no fire damage even though the fire itself was not trivial, and exceeded temp thresholds of those technologies.

    I got that straight from CDR Gabrielson in my interview with him while on the ship, and he showed both Chris Cavas and I examples.

    The mission bays are the payload, but are also the design element intended to keep the ship from sinking (they account for the ships reserve buoyancy as Chris Cavas reported). These are choices in the design, good or bad is a question, but if we are looking for the ship less than 4000 tons that can take a major hit and stay in the fight, I’d submit we need a new standard of gold plated ships. I also think sid is exactly right in pointing to speed as the ‘feature’ that drove the necessity to make so many choices in the design. I am not sold on the value of super speed, but I am not against testing the concepts with a few LCS.

    But when I read comments about fighting with damage on the LCS, I ask the question… fight with what? Unless they take direct damage, the 30mm will still be able to shoot. The LCS isn’t a platform intended to deliver firepower, the payloads are deployable. Are we worried that a damaged LCS won’t be able to deploy off board systems, or shoot its 57mm?

    Byron’s Taffy 3 example, which isn’t the same as sids Taffy 3 example, is way off the mark. The DEs were primary escort for escort carriers. The LCS doesn’t have any system that makes it a primary escort for a high value unit, and I submit the expectation, desire, and attempts to fit the round LCS peg into the square hole of a traditional frigate CONOP raises questions whether commentators even know what the LCS is.

    The LCS is more of an amphib than a frigate. We don’t have an amphib smaller than 12,000 tons, so it is hard to compare the LCS survivability to any existing amphib.

    But if you think back to when the US converted DEs to APDs, keep in mind the APDs expected to lose their payload when damaged, payload fact it was often all over the deck. The Newport class LST, smaller than todays amphib but larger than the LCS, had a survivability theory along the same lines. The ship was intended to float and survive, even if the tank payload was intended to take the blunt of the damage.

    In other words, the LCS philosophical approach to survivability isn’t much different than the historical approach we have taken with all naval vessels that have off board payloads, the payload has always been the aspect of the ship sacrificed for the survivability of the ship itself. The LCS, and even the JHSV to a degree, takes a similar approach.

    Most of the comments in this thread are interesting, but some are not valid. Those who are trying to fit the round LCS peg into the square hole of a traditional frigate CONOP often appear to me to be holding a 2nd conversation with assumptions only present in their own mind.

    They suggesting the traditional frigate role is needed in today’s Navy, instead of the unmanned and manned system mothership role the LCS represents. I have seen no argument anywhere that makes that case.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Ben,

    You have a point regarding evasion of subsurface threats. However, as a warship wades closer to shore, the range fans of a wide variety of weapons, some mobile, some fixed, some in small craft or hidden in built-up areas, come into play.

    For trained gun crews, whose mission is to kill helicopters moving at 80 knots in 3 dimensions (or a 40-ton tank in 2 dimensions) from some kilometers away, hitting a 3,000-ton ship is not a stretch. If the LCS is not able to absorb that damage and continue the fight, its usefulness in the littoral is extremely limited.

  • sid

    The LCS isn’t a platform intended to deliver firepower, the payloads are deployable. Are we worried that a damaged LCS won’t be able to deploy off board systems,

    You should be worried the LCS will be very quickly rendered ineffective in her ability to control those assets, and very quickly no longer remain a viable mothership for them. And, if aboard at the time of attack, the outright destruction of them.

    Same problems wrestled with in aircraft carrier development BTW…

    I got that straight from CDR Gabrielson in my interview with him while on the ship, and he showed both Chris Cavas and I examples.

    re: The damaged stability issue. Given the GAO report on the Freedom inclining:

    “In fact, an inclining experiment performed during acceptance trials showed LCS-1 may not meet Navy stability requirements for the damaged ship condition.”

    I will unblock the “Bravo Sierra” signal on the assertion from Gabrielson and Cavas. Perhaps their implicit assumption is that the hull and critical bulkheads would remain intact.

    But if you think back to when the US converted DEs to APDs, keep in mind the APDs expected to lose their payload when damaged,

    True…There were plenty more assets to take up the slack in theater at a time when we enjoyed overwhelming superiority in every battle. And plenty more ships available to convert, and available manpower to crew them with.

    Thats 1945 think G, unsuitable for the realities of 2009.

    On the point of fighting after damage, neither Stark nor Roberts could fight after their hit, the damage control effort was specific towards not sinking.

    And its time the trend begins to be reversed from the, “It won’t matter any when the nuke drops’, mentality.

  • Byron

    Galrahn, the point is the DEs were able to continue their MISSION, despite extrordinary damage. Doesn’t matter that their mission was escort. Just that they performed their mission well enough to save the invasion beaches. And doesn’t LCS have a PAM module? Isn’t it ASuW?

  • Scott B.

    sid said : “Neither LCS has a hull mounted sonar (and would be quenched at 50 kts anyway), so how will they even know a torpedo is coming?”

    Furthermore, the severe cavitation observed on all four (4) waterjets in the LCS-1 design is going to make it a magnet for wake homing torpedoes.

  • Scott B.

    Galrahn said : “The LM LCS number is 100, and the very rough unofficial estimate cost for conversion is about $3m.”

    Unless you’re in charge of the PR for LockMart and/or NAVSEA, I’m quietly going to wait for either organization to committ publicly on these numbers (or any other numbers they might feel comfortable with).

    By the same token, if they ever committ publicly on such figures, I’m expecting them to explain what impact it will have on habitability, endurance, etc… (something they haven’t done yet for LCS-2).

    Meanwhile, given the absence of credible sources to support the numbers you’ve quoted, I’m comfortably going to assume that accommodations on LCS-1 is 75, which is the figure given on the LockMart website.

  • Scott B.

    Galrahn said : “Damage control for both ships was never primarily towards the end of recovering the ships fighting capability, it was purely a secondary concern.”

    You falsely assume that Recoverability is exclusively about recovering fighting capability, which simply isn’t true.

    Here is how Recoverability is defined in the NATO SLC Study :

    Recoverability defines the capability to control the spread of damage, minimize crew casualties and restore the ship to mission capable status following damage.

    Once you get the definition right, you quickly realize that DC efforts on Stark and Roberts were largely geared towards Recoverability in that they were meant to control the spread of damage and minimize crew casualties.

  • Scott B.

    Galrahn said : “Both platforms are well engineered to float and manage fire.”

    You keep confusing two different indicators, reserve of buoyancy on the one hand and damage stability on the other hand.

    While both are important indicators of a ship’s survivability, damage stability tends to have more importance, because a ship without sufficient stability after damage will capsize, even though it may have enough buoyancy to remain afloat.

    You’ll find a more detailed discussion on both aspects for instance in Surko’s May 1994 article in NEJ entitled “An Assessment of Current Warship Damaged Stability Criteria”.

    As far as LCS-1 is concerned, the problem is that the design may not meet Navy stability requirements for the damaged ship condition as stated in the GAO report, which would be a HUGE problem no matter how much reserve of buoyance may (or may not) have been factored into the design.

  • Scott B.

    Galrahn said : “A frigate would simply add more firepower to the abundance of firepower we are NOT using to a battlespace we demand better information in so that we can better appropriate the use of the firepower we already have in the region.”

    You make it sound like a frigate design is driven by firepower only, which is totally inaccurate.

    If you take a look at a recent design like the Franco-Italian FREMM (which costs less than either LCS as it currently stands BTW), what you’ll find out is that the design is largely driven by the sensors suite and the combat system.

    EW is another major design driver in the FREMM design, and it’s an area where LCS might NEVER come anywhere close to what the Franco-Italian frigate will have.

    I mention EW specifically because of its major contribution in the information space of the modern maritime battlefield today.

  • Byron

    Put simply, and to amplify what Scott said, LCS-1 looks like a fat lady wearing 4″ heels. Way too much above the wet stuff, not enough in it.

  • Scott B.

    Galrahn said : “The LCS is more of an amphib than a frigate. We don’t have an amphib smaller than 12,000 tons, so it is hard to compare the LCS survivability to any existing amphib.”

    Survivability levels are performance standards which are set regardless the ship’s displacement.

    LCS-1 was supposedly designed to meet Level 1, and what matters is whether she does meet the requirement or not, and not how her vulnerability compares to a gator with a greater displacement.

    At the end of the day, LockMart proclaimed numerous times that the enormous cost overruns observed on their design (+183%, making it the worst offender in terms of cost growth) were largely due to the incorporation of the NVR, which was expected to produce a more survivable design.

    I believe any same tax payer would like to know whether the extra financial burden expected from him actually produced the benefits expected in terms of vulnerability reduction. Or NOT…

  • Scott B.

    Galrahn said : “The LCS, and even the JHSV to a degree, takes a similar approach.”

    This is your perception, and regardless the validity of your *narrative* (which has been through quite a few *cosmetic* changes in the past 12 months BTW), your perception is not in line with what the Navy says.

    These are a couple a short quotes that comes straight from the PEO Ships website, in a webpage appropriately entitled JHSV vs. LCS and last updated June 16, 2009 :

    “LCS is a warship, designed to conduct combat operations. It is capable of sustaining combat damage and still perform its mission. To accomplish this, LCS was designed and constructed to American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) Naval Vessel Rules (NVR).

    JHSV is being built to American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) High Speed Naval Craft Guide. Systems onboard will be based on commercial ABS steel vessel rules. As such, it does not require the survivability and ability to sustain damage like the LCS.

  • sid

    Back in WWII, when either tied to direct support of land operations, or attacking an enemy coast from the littorals, carriers generally suffered. This was true from the Solomons on, and even accelerated near the end of the war off Okinawa, and off Japan, in spite of our overwhelming combat superiority.

  • http://www.informationdissemination.net/ Galrahn

    You falsely assume that Recoverability is exclusively about recovering fighting capability, which simply isn’t true.

    What? I didn’t assume that, I was responding to what reads as that assumption. My comment is perfectly in line with the NATO comment cited.

    given the absence of credible sources

    You use the long way to call me dishonest. I am transparent, you know my name, you know how to get in touch with me, and I am writing information under a post I wrote on the blog of the most credible institution for US Navy discussions anywhere. You have the option of requiring more information to make a final determination, but you do not have the option to accuse me of being dishonest. Choose your words more carefully, or even try seeking additional information, because the option you took is out of step with the rules of this forum.

    The personal attack is not warranted, particularly when the option obviously exists to seek a private discussion on the matter and you don’t exercise it before making accusations.

    Byron, the LCS does have a PAM module for ASuW. If the ship has the capacity to target another ship within range, and if the PAM is not damaged, it should remain operational. The NLOS system as I understand it has the capacity to operate independently, including being taken right off the LCS and put onto another platform and still work. I have questions how targeting works if the system is disconnected from the ships systems though, and do not know if it works as advertised, or if there are considerations not revealed for it to be operational.

    Sid I have concerns regarding whether the LCS can effectively control those assets now, much less after damage. We are talking about untethered, unmanned programmed systems that lack decision making or may require a remote operator, sometimes over the horizon. I think how to recover and issue commands to those distributed systems in operation when the LCS is unable to communicate it for any reason is a major question of the entire LCS CONOP. The answer may also answer what happens when battle damage limits the LCS from communicating with those systems.

    I have seen that GAO finding and see nothing new or special there. The use of the word “may” applies to heck of a lot more than just damage conditions when discussing the LCS. The LCS “may” be a piece of shit. The LCS “may” be a great evolution. We don’t know what “may” come of this thing in the future.

    Thats 1945 think G, unsuitable for the realities of 2009

    I think that is a debate point where opinions can disagree. I think the crew issue will be resolved by adding in more crew. Some of the other issues don’t have easy resolutions, and the question is whether the right trades were made, and whether the Navy is accepting too much risk.

    In my opinion, I think when looking how to balance some of these issues, speed should shift from a primary to a secondary consideration. This “speed is life” thing applied to LCS doesn’t work the way it does for submarines, and SWOs need to swallow that pill. I am not sure that is the way the Navy approached solutions to issues, and there is some evidence the Navy has instead sacrificed towards insuring the speed capability.

    I do think the fire technologies are impressive, and I’m trying to find a way to get to Mobile and talk to the folks there. Some of the modernizations to the AEGIS fleet include several techs developed for managing fire on LCS.

    There are huge doors in the bays of the LCS, and quite frankly there is going to be a requirement for those doors to move the modules around on a ship of any size. There are also two huge doors on the outer hull in the aft mission zone. I think they are expecting a lot if they expect these large internal doors to hold sealed when the ship takes major shock damage.

    But I don’t know how to reconcile that on a 3000 ton ship. They did some things to mitigate risk, but they accepted risk too. A lot of critics do not find it acceptable that when it comes to the survivability issue, the Navy took risks in favor of technologies, including some that have never been proven in damage conditions.

    Isn’t the first time. In its first real world test, AEGIS shot down an Iranian airliner. Unfortunately, if the same analogy applies, it means sailors could die.

  • Scott B.

    Galrahn said : “They suggesting the traditional frigate role is needed in today’s Navy, instead of the unmanned and manned system mothership role the LCS represents.”

    Being a mothership for manned and unmanned systems doesn’t describe a role, it merely describes a technical solution implemented to accomplish a mission, i.e. SUW, ASW and MIW in the case of LCS.

    Once you get this bit of narrative right, the question is whether LCS can accomplish any of these missions effectively, whether LCS can do it cost effectively or not and whether another design could do it more economically and/or more effectively.

    Once you realize that :

    1. a GP frigate can easily be made at least as good as LCS (and probably much better) at SUW and ASW.

    2. there are serious doubts that LCS will ever be an even marginally effective MIW solution.

    3. either LCS designs (LCS-1 : $640 million for the seaframe only; LCS-2 : $700 million for the seaframe only) cost more than foreign GP frigates.

    Then the GP frigate option advocated by some here becomes an entirely legitimate subject worth a debate, and not just a fantasy that’s present *in their own mind* as you seem to suggest.

  • Scott B.

    Galrahn said : “You use the long way to call me dishonest.”

    You confuse credibility with honesty.

    This is not the same thing at all…

  • sid

    I am having wireless problems…

    In other words, the LCS philosophical approach to survivability isn’t much different than the historical approach we have taken with all naval vessels that have off board payloads, the payload has always been the aspect of the ship sacrificed for the survivability of the ship itself.

    Which begs the question: Is the USN prepared for the prodigious loss rate of its UUV/USV/UAV inventories, even in the most peaceful of times? Remember DASH, and whats the predator loss rates over the last few years anyway?

    G, you’ve often (correctly) equated the LCS to the Langley, so arguably, carriers are the closest analogue to compare to the LCS.

    Back in WWII, when either tied to direct support of land operations, or attacking an enemy coast from the littorals, carriers generally suffered. This was true from the Solomons on, and even accelerated near the end of the war off Okinawa, and off Japan, in spite of our overwhelming combat superiority.

    And, since WWII, carriers have only operated in uncontested bastions.

    It will be far different for the LCS. They are expected be present in the littorals prior to, and during the very initial stages of conflict. And that’s where the the first casualties will happen. The stories of the Augusta and Panay are pertinent here.

    To make matters worse for these fragile ships, all that running to and fro at high speed, then stopping to launch and retrieve those valuable offboard assets, and all the radiating it will take to “wrangle” them, will make these ships juicy targets indeed for an enemy in waiting.

    So, how many robots will a commander be willing to lose when an LCS is very quickly rendered mission incapable by even a minimal attack? And any deployed robots are abandoned or lost (and potentially exploited by the enemy)?

    How many LCS hulls…each expected to perform 3 missions…can he sacrifice before his offensive plans are put in serious jeopardy?

  • Scott B.

    Galrahn said : “The NLOS system as I understand it has the capacity to operate independently,”

    The NLOS-LS mission module has no intrinsic targeting capabilities. It cannot operate *independently*, it has to receive targeting or (at least) cueing data from somewhere.

  • Scott B.

    Galrahn said : “They did some things to mitigate risk, but they accepted risk too.”

    Taking a risk is one thing, being able to explain why such a risk should be taken is another one.

    The problem is that, as mentioned in the DOT&E annual report for FY2007, page 132 :

    “The Navy still needs to complete the risk assessment to confirm that Level I survivability is sufficient for a class of small combatants (FY05).”

    FY05 means that the recommendation was first made in the DOT&E annual report for FY2005, to no effect as of 12/31/2007.

    That doesn’t look good in my books.

    Especially as LCS-1 may not meet Navy stability requirements for the damaged ship condition, IOW may not even meet Level 1 requirement.

  • http://www.informationdissemination.net/ Galrahn

    This is your perception, and regardless the validity of your *narrative* (which has been through quite a few *cosmetic* changes in the past 12 months BTW), your perception is not in line with what the Navy says.

    Did I piss in your cereal? You seem to get very aggitated when responding to me.

    Everything I have said is in line with what shipbuilders say. When you build this much space into small platforms, there can be stability problems when the ship takes on water. While I have no idea if the GAO is reporting something it is specifically worried about or not, I’d bet money the reason they put that line about “may” having stability problems is because they spoke to shipbuilders too.

    Like I mentioned, it won’t look pretty when they take on water, but these HSVs will be more difficult to sink than people may believe.

    Does that mean survivability has been sacrified? I don’t know, it all depends on how the ship takes damage and how much water the ship takes on. I am also not sure there are many options around this issue on small ships that are built with a payload expectation of big, open spaces.

    I don’t know how to reconcile the design metrics without building a bigger mothership, something that I have consistently said the Navy should be doing with motherships, and is not as you suggest – a narrative change.

  • http://www.informationdissemination.net/ Galrahn

    The NLOS-LS mission module has no intrinsic targeting capabilities. It cannot operate *independently*, it has to receive targeting or (at least) cueing data from somewhere.

    Right, but from where? Must the interface be physical with the ship? Is the interface some sort of wireless capability? Can it take targeting in multiple ways or only a limited number of ways?

    They talk about off loading and putting on a truck. Great, but as you say, NLOS-LS mission module has no intrinsic targeting capabilities. So how would that work exactly?

  • Scott B.

    Galrahn said : “but these HSVs will be more difficult to sink than people may believe.”

    Again, no matter how much buoyancy reserve they may (or may not) have to remain afloat, without sufficient stability after damage, they will capsize.

    And that’s exactly what the Navy stability requirements for the damaged ship condition are about.

  • Scott B.

    Galrahn said : “When you build this much space into small platforms, there can be stability problems when the ship takes on water.”

    If you read the GAO report again, what you’ll find out is that damage stability problems are largely connected with the excessive overweight of the LCS-1.

    I haven’t seen any credible sources suggesting this excessive overweight is connected with how much space might be available in the seaframe as you seem to believe.

  • http://www.informationdissemination.net/ Galrahn

    Scott,

    I understand this. But I don’t think any independent expert, anywhere, is going to certify that LCS won’t capsize. While the designers of both LCS attempted to design in some mitigation of the capsize effect, and say it won’t capsize… I don’t think anyone really knows for certain.

    When a ship has huge open spaces within feet of the waterline, like LCS does, I think you have to factor in the possibility. Big spaces the width of a ship has been cited as a known design issue that can cause ships under some conditions to capsize when taking water, so I don’t think the Navy can ever credibily make an emphatic statement the risk isn’t there.

  • Scott B.

    Galrahn said : “Right, but from where? Must the interface be physical with the ship? Is the interface some sort of wireless capability? Can it take targeting in multiple ways or only a limited number of ways?”

    A quick look at the Raytheon datasheet might give you some preliminary indications :
    http://www.raytheon.com/capabilities/rtnwcm/groups/rms/documents/content/rtn_rms_ps_nlos_datasheet.pdf

    E.g. :

    “The CCS communicates with the network via a network radio that provides the mission-specific data needed for threat engagement.”

  • http://www.informationdissemination.net/ Galrahn

    If you read the GAO report again, what you’ll find out is that damage stability problems are largely connected with the excessive overweight of the LCS-1.

    Exactly, and as I understand it, it is connected to excessive weight above the waterline of the ship. That could mean a number of things, but I got the impression based on what I know about LCS-1 the report is talking about water in the large mission bays.

  • Scott B.

    Galrahn said : “I don’t think anyone really knows for certain.”

    The question is not whether LCS can capsize or not : the question is under which (damage) conditions it will capsize and that’s what inclining experiments are for (among other things).

    From there, either LCS-1 meets the Navy requirement, or it doesn’t.

  • Scott B.

    Galrahn said : “That could mean a number of things, but I got the impression based on what I know about LCS-1 the report is talking about water in the large mission bays.”

    I’m willing to speculate that the overweight is not in the large water bays.

    And I don’t take much risk with this speculation…

  • Byron

    It’s a launcher like any other, with the exception that it can be mounted to a deck and then…connected by cables for both power and to a console that will read on-board conditions and to upload data. If the cable breaks, if the electricity goes out…That’s where damage control teams come into action. Walk around a typical Navy ship. You’ll see these whacking thick cables with odd connectors on the end. They’re casualty power cables, designed to brige around a break in the cable system. Absolutely part of damage control training, and no automated system can work around this. Is anyone willing to tell Sid, Scott and myself, that all critical piping and electic lines are built redundantly?

  • http://www.informationdissemination.net/ Galrahn

    And, since WWII, carriers have only operated in uncontested bastions.

    Based on the no-go rule for the Navy to concede the 25nm out from shore, I’d say the CONOP of the Navy is to operate where there are fewer contested bastions, regardless of ship type.

    It will be far different for the LCS. They are expected be present in the littorals prior to, and during the very initial stages of conflict.

    I understand this is a CONOP assumption.

    As recently as last week, I am 100% sure the CONOP for the LCS is being written in pencil and with a big eraser. I have the impression they are still working through exactly how to operate this ship, and I think they have discovered some of the criticisms people have been saying regarding the “Littoral” aspect of the LCS.

    To make matters worse for these fragile ships, all that running to and fro at high speed, then stopping to launch and retrieve those valuable offboard assets, and all the radiating it will take to “wrangle” them, will make these ships juicy targets indeed for an enemy in waiting.

    This is another CONOP assumption. I assure you that this has not happened yet in operational testing with LCS-1. They haven’t even refueled the ship enough at sea to try this yet.

    So, how many robots will a commander be willing to lose when an LCS is very quickly rendered mission incapable by even a minimal attack? And any deployed robots are abandoned or lost (and potentially exploited by the enemy)?

    I think you are too easily assuming a condition of mission incapable after a minimal attack. We don’t know enough to assume that. I would assume recovery of robots will be a factor determined by the on scene commander, and to the degree of risk in the recovery factoring in the need. Some of these systems are intended to be throw away, although I don’t see us producing them at a rate to suggest we have reached that point yet.

    Your second question is a good question I don’t have answers to. It should also be pointed out that the LCS can only perform limited repairs to all its ‘robot’ technology.

  • sid

    I think you are too easily assuming a condition of mission incapable after a minimal attack.

    Can’t find it in Ewing’s blog just now…but remember that lube oil casualty?

    Also, all the unprotected electrical and hydraulic systems draped along the sides of hull seen here suggest it would take little effort to disable this ship…

  • http://www.informationdissemination.net/ Galrahn

    Being a mothership for manned and unmanned systems doesn’t describe a role, it merely describes a technical solution implemented to accomplish a mission, i.e. SUW, ASW and MIW in the case of LCS.

    Once you get this bit of narrative right, the question is whether LCS can accomplish any of these missions effectively, whether LCS can do it cost effectively or not and whether another design could do it more economically and/or more effectively.

    Fair. Role was the wrong word, but suggesting ships are built to meet specific missions isn’t right either. In WWII, every ship except mine craft was designed to perform one mission, and by the end of the war was used in a different role.

    I think you are asking the wrong question. What function does the Navy need provided from its smaller ships. Clearly ASW, MIW, and ASuW of small ships are some of these functions, but we have already seen other proposals for modules to fill other functions necessary.

    Is the LCS being asked to meet that requirement because it is designed well to do so, or because it is the only small ship available to potentially do so?

    At a higher level, what does the Navy need, and are smaller ships the way to meet that need because of design or because of costs?

    I think the frigate vs LCS debate at the high level and detail level would be a fun discussion.

  • sid

    Note how a similarly placed electrical junction box on the hull interior aboard the USS Crockett allowed an RPG round to disable her 3 inch mount during a firefight…

  • sid

    More pics here

    Mighty little hole for such a big impact…

  • sid

    Dang it…

    Oh well, try this.

    As I said. Mighty little hole for such a big impact.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Sid,

    Yep, RPG impact, or a 23mm cannon shell (or even a 14.5 or 12.7 SLAP) bouncing around in there, in an aluminum hull, with little compartmentation….

    Like the Steve Martin scene in “My Blue Heaven”; ..it goes in one side and bounces around like Pac Man till you die.”

  • Scott B.

    URR said : “Yep, RPG impact, or a 23mm cannon shell (or even a 14.5 or 12.7 SLAP) bouncing around in there, in an aluminum hull, with little compartmentation….”

    It’s even worse !

    Here is what Norman Friedman wrote about the incident that involved USS Worden off Vietnam in 1972 :

    “The Worden case is in some ways for more sobering, since it involved a type of damage to be expected in wartime : a Shrike anti-radar missile with a fragmentation warhead was accidentally dropped on the ship off Vietnam.

    The fragments cut all topside waveguides and cable leads, and even damaged the wheelhouse; the ship lost all electric power for a time and for some hours was credited with less than 40 percent of her normal fighting capacity.

    Her aluminium superstructure acted to multiply the fragments produced by the missile; every pellet from the missile produced two or more in the superstructure, so that instead of a shield it became a deadly instrument in its own right.

  • Scott B.

    Regarding Aluminum, here is what I posted somewhere else not so long ago :

    —————————————————————–
    Aluminum doesn’t burn, except in the form of finely divided powder or flaxe, in which case it will oxidize exothermically, much like other finely divided materials such as iron and titanium.

    However :

    a) aluminum alloys have a low resitance to temperature, with a softening point @ 200°C and a melting point @ 600°C, meaning aluminum structure will suffer structural collapse much faster than steel structures, ceteris paribus.

    b) aluminum alloys exhibit a high thermal conductivity (aluminum conducts heat 2.5 to 9 times faster than steel), meaning that once a fire has taken hold of a compartment, the bulkheads surrounding that compartment will heat faster when made of aluminum (again ceteris paribus), eventually igniting the contents of surrounding compartments by radiant heat.

    And that’s the crux of the matter : once a fire has taken hold, a ship is going to be in a world of hurt, and this is going to happen much faster when the ship is made of aluminum (again ceteris paribus).

  • Scott B.

    Regarding Aluminum,

    Regarding Aluminum, here is another post I made somewhere else not so long ago :

    ——————————————————————
    Another problem with LCS-1 is that interactions between the steel hull and the aluminium superstructure are not without major *challenges*, e.g. :

    1) Aluminium is difficult to join to steel structures (you need to use either explosion bonding or biweldable strips).

    2) Aluminium can lead to galvanic corrosion with steel.

    3) Aluminium has a coefficient of thermal expansion almost double to that of steel, which may cause distortions with temperature variations in service.

    These *challenges* are not just hypothetical : for instance, in 1991, when USS Princeton detonated an acoustic mine under the ship’s quarterdeck (the blast detonating another mine 300 yards off the starboard beam), a 6-inch crack opened in the Princeton’s aluminium superstructure running up one side and down the other, with more than 10% of the superstructure separating from the main deck.

  • Scott B.

    Galrahn said : “Based on the no-go rule for the Navy to concede the 25nm out from shore,”

    I seem to remember I already posted this following comment on your website :

    1) The 25NM stand-off has been around for about 15 years now, meaning it predates LCS by about 10 years or so (e.g. the 25NM stand-off was included in the USMC NSFS requirements established in November 1994 and has been of the NSFS pedigree ever since).

    2) LCS wouldn’t operate inside the 25NM range band in anything but the most mundane environments.

    3) There are LOTS of reasons why the 25NM stand-off exists.

    4) Implementing this stand-off DOESN’T necessarily mean that you concede the 25nm out from shore, as you suggest.

  • Scott B.

    And BTW, the stand-off is much more than 25NM for the carriers.

  • Larry Schumacher

    G in answer to your question: “Show me one instance where a frigate would be optimal over LCS”, Assuming LCS1 vs OHP with tasking to escort fast Cruise ship or Merch with high value cargo. OHP is able to match speed with its charge throughout its range while LCS1 can sustain a little over 15 kt on diesel only. Lighting the turbines to match the 20kt of a Cruise ship is problematic due to the “Hump” of a Semi Planeing hullform plus other logistical and operational concerns. LCS could maintain coverage with sprint/cruise profiles and helos but would lack the deterrent factor of having a Warship on station.
    A few points:
    The Req. for blue water escort has not gone away.

    Although a SLEP on OHP class will not help us in 2025 the ships are so useful now that a bobtail SLEP to keep them operational until their replacement is fully operational would be very prudent.

    Seaworthyness and Persistance always give good value in the long run.

    I am not an LCS detractor, I see as many potential advantages as I do potential hazards with the concept, but we need ships for the present while we are building the future. SLEP the Figs!

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Byron,

    You need to send Larry S. a free “SLEP the Figs!” souvenir T-shirt!

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    Yes! Excellent. SLEP the FFGs and condemn the DDG-51s (disregarding the impacts to the rest of the fleet) to a 25 year service life. Good plan. Perhaps we can convince Byron and the rest of the maintenance providers to work for free in the interest of national security.

    V/R,

  • Larry Schumacher

    Ben, I fail to see how maintaining our OHPs adversly effects our Burkes. My thoughts on funding are as stimulus, pushed by Congress, with potential application to our DDG51s as well. I am sure you have noticed just how little of the Trillion+++ ia allocated to the military. If we want to fund anything we are going to have to get creative. Besides, every OHP in service frees up a Burke to be a Battlecruiser instead of an escort. From reading your posts I imagine that you could think up plenty of missions for an extra Burke.

  • Byron

    Ben, one last time: kill ONE LCS, and you can fund a bobtail SLEP to 20 Figs. High school diploma math. No fear, either of causing a shortfall on the Burkes.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    “From reading your posts I imagine that you could think up plenty of missions for an extra Burke.”

    I should have probably pursued a career as a fiction writer.

    I can also imagine many uses for a SLEPed OHP. I just can’t see how funding it over other priorities makes any sense at all. I’m a little like Byron in this regard. If you can figure out a way to fund it, there are very few problems that cannot be solved through engineering and hard work.

    I work within the constraints of the funding and national will. Not imagined funding, but what is actually appropriated (the national will part). If you cannot see the impact to the rest of the fleet by SLEPing the FFGs in the current environment, I cannot help you. The fiscal and technical realities don’t support this view. The fact remains that there would be extremely detrimental impacts to the rest of the fleet if my assumption of maintaining the current OM&N and OPN lines at the current levels while choosing to SLEP the FFGs remains correct.

    If constraints (current O&MN and OPN funding as an example) change, I will certainly modify my view of the future. Depending on the funding (and national will) that modification of my view may or may not include SLEPing the FFGs.

    One of the reasons I challenge the detractors of the LCS is that I have come to the conclusion that in the near term (3-5 years) the LCS is the platform (among others) that the USN will be required to make work in executing the national will. There is no easy solution in the cue despite what many believe. More effort is needed to determine what the national will is, and more effort is needed to figure out how to make the fleet work to support the national will than spending time critiquing past decisions. Realistically, the USN is at least 5 years away from reversing the decisions that influence our reality now. The USN (like all bureaucratic organizations) is constrained by history.

    V/R,

  • sid

    One of the reasons I challenge the detractors of the LCS is that I have come to the conclusion that in the near term (3-5 years) the LCS is the platform (among others) that the USN will be required to make work in executing the national will.

    Added some emphasis to your words there Ben…

    This is what I have been saying for several years. Under current plans, the LCS will become the default surface combatant. And despite G’s desires to see it only employed as an APD or DSM, will be thrust into main battleforce roles they were never designed for…Because there will be no choice.

    Borrowing from Barron Brassey’s concerns for the battlecruisers a century ago…

    An admiral having Freedoms and Invincibles in his fleet will be certain to put them in the line of battle, where their comparatively light protection would be at a disadvantage.

    The Barron was talking about the Invincible Battlecruisers. His words sure did turn into a sad “I Told You So…

  • Byron

    So no matter that the evidence before is is beginning to sound damning, just forge ahead because we have to? Ben, that’s exactly why I want to keep the Figs around a bit more! Scrap the LCS, buy a design from Europe if NorGruGenDyMcDon can’t come up with a better product themselves! For the love of God, you’re going to use a STEEL hull to hunt mines? Its lunacy! And don’t give me all the gas about the stupid little robots, Princeton thought she had lot’s of clearance on mines too, lot of good that was.

    Stop the train of thought that says “we have to keep LCS because it’s the only idea we have”. That kind of thinking is just plain stupid.

  • Grampa Bluewater

    “Aluminum can lead to galvanic corrosion with steel”

    Wrong verb, WILL.

  • Grampa Bluewater

    One of the unforeseen consequences of the early 90’s decision to keep the new contruction and sacrifice servicable ships in mid life is that the officer corps has lost the lore of keeping old ships in acceptable repair.

    Additionally, the black art of tender repair of ships alongside is rapidly becoming one with the contents of the library in Alexandria.

    As a result the young officers among us see ships repair as an intermittent treatment done in civilian yards at high cost, rather than something more akin to respiration (if you stop, even for a minute, you die).

    Thus the “you can’t” vs “you must” exchange going on.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    The “wrong funding pot” argument is pure semantics, when one gets down to brass tacks. The foolhardy and wasteful retirement (and disposal) of a great number of surface combatants with more than half of the service life remaining on them (Virginias, Spruance, first five Ticos) has left us devoid of the “presence” that ADM McCullogh refers to in Gal’s post.

    This is also not an argument about “high-low mix” or platform capabilities. The replacements for these early retirements has been so far, next to NOTHING. They don’t necessarily have to be one-for-one. I get that. Combat power of newer units is usually greater than those they replace. But they can’t be the exorbitantly priced ones and twos as has been so far. Since 1991 we have lost more than two hundred ships from our Navy’s end strength, even with the commissioning of the fifty-odd DDG-51s.

    Whether we like it or not, a FFG-7 and DDG-51 that has been modernized with a SLEP/FRAM (as would a SLEP Spruance, if we had not disposed of them) is far preferable to empty ocean. Which, with current attrition and our shipbuilding problems, we are fast headed for.

    The official line always seems to be that we don’t like to SLEP/FRAM. It is undesirable, costs too much, not enough bang for the buck, etc. Yet, having observed for some time the Navy’s public and not-so-public statements about end-strength and mission requirements, I have not seen or heard of a single course of action that would not have our Navy shrink well below current strength. A 200-ship Navy, regardless of the mix, would be insufficient for our global commitments and interests.

    The concern and debate about the relative merits of either of the LCS types may seem excessive. But if the LCS is going to be one of the three or four backbone ship types, built in relatively large numbers for the USN, the perceived shortcomings and vulnerabilities of the design and concept take on added import.

    Should we have kept the numbers of surface combatants we ought to have, we might have had some leeway for a much more comprehensive proof of concept for the LCS design, instead of weaving the still-experimental vessels so centrally into our Navy’s future force structure.

    What’s the solution? We need to keep shipbuilding going, it is true. How about a proven design, modernized, to bridge the gap between the perceived apocalyptic 2025 date and future successors to the current combatant types (with time to test and prove)? A design based on DDG-51, hull and engineering plant, with updates to weapons systems and electronics suites. And a modified CG-47 design, same principle. A LIMITED number of LCS, with an opportunity to run them through their paces, incorporate design and operational lessons learned, and THEN build the numbers desired.

    In the mean time, the ships we have (FFG-7, DDG-51, CG-47) we keep. Service live extensions and modernizations as required. They are the most capable ships of their type extant. Do NOT make the mistake of early retirement again.

  • sid

    An admiral having Freedoms and Invincibles

    Make that “Independences”.

    Other points…

    At a time when the USN needs to look at fuel conservation as a significant Strategic and Operational consideration, the surface combatant fleet will be predominately made up by what could well be the most fuel inefficient ships produced in a century.

    I ask…Again…How is 50 knots so much more a benefit than 35?

    Other than the fact it makes for a cool picture in a commercial, and will will impress visitors on the “Ohh-Ahh” tours.

    And that “impressive” 20 foot rooster tail does little good in the employment of the ships main battery.

    All it does is showcase how the LCS concept -as currently built- is but a multi-billion dollar oxymoron.

    I brought up the RPG burst on the Crockett to show that its the little design details that matter most. Moving that junction box off the hull to an interior location, perhaps provide an alternate box and cable run, and providing them with even minimal ballistic protection, would have allowed the ships main batter to stay functional.

    Survivability in ship design is NOT synonymous with tons of armor, or tons of money.

    Oh, here is a little another PG in action story…

    From 28 June to 14 July, CANON patrolled its designated area. Ship operations during this period involved the usual Market Time routine of board and search coupled with a few instances of harassment and interdiction gunfire. On 9 July, CANON patrolled the Bo De/Cu Lon Rivers for the first time. Five days later, on 14 July, while on patrol, CANON was ambushed by enemy forces near the mouth of the Bo De River. A rocket hit in the port engine room placed the hydraulic system out of commission, rendering the pitch system inoperative, and CANON drifted aground on the river’s right bank. Accomplishing emergency repairs, CANON was dislodged with the assistance of two PCF’s and its own starboard shaft and returned to Sea Float. Ordered to Cam Rahn Bay for repairs, CANON proceeded to that port under its own power.

    With repairs completed by 27 July, CANON returned to its patrol duties, this time to Market Time Operation Area 8B. Again, routine operations were a matter of course with escort duty serving as a secondary responsibility. On 9 August, CANON returned to the Bo De/Cu Lon Rivers and the next day escorted USS BRULE (AKL-28) to Sea Float. After spending the night as naval gunfire support ship for Sea Float, CANON returned to the river to conduct routine patrol. At 0920 CANON encountered hostile forces for the second time and received fire from both banks of the river. The crew responded quickly and inflicted heavy damage on the enemy, employing both the ship’s main armament and small arms fire. This action by the enemy resulted, in part, in the following:

    *Eight B-40 rocket hits to port and starboard;
    *Extensive rocket damage to the bridge;
    *Fourteen personnel casualties, including the Commanding Officer, of whom five were medevaced.

    For this action, members of the crew were rewarded for their heroism with three Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars.

  • Chuck Hill

    The LCS is not the only game in town. There is the Coast Guard’s National Security Cutter

    http://www.uscg.mil/acquisition/NSC/features.asp

    and the the planned Offshore Patrol Cutter

    http://www.uscg.mil/acquisition/OPC/features.asp

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    “What’s the solution? We need to keep shipbuilding going, it is true. How about a proven design, modernized, to bridge the gap between the perceived apocalyptic 2025 date and future successors to the current combatant types (with time to test and prove)? A design based on DDG-51, hull and engineering plant, with updates to weapons systems and electronics suites. And a modified CG-47 design, same principle. A LIMITED number of LCS, with an opportunity to run them through their paces, incorporate design and operational lessons learned, and THEN build the numbers desired.”

    If one observes critically, this is exactly what is going on.

    “In the mean time, the ships we have (FFG-7, DDG-51, CG-47) we keep. Service live extensions and modernizations as required. They are the most capable ships of their type extant. Do NOT make the mistake of early retirement again.”

    I have not advocated early retirement ever (and I don’t think the USN has either). The opposite is true. 40 year service life for the CGs and the DDGs is being openly advocated with little technical analysis as to whether this is feasible or responsible.

    Scott B. has many good points. Speed for the LCS was not well thought out. That being said, some of the speed capability is now inherent in the platform. How do you use it to best effect?

    V/R,

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “I have not advocated early retirement ever (and I don’t think the USN has either)”

    I beg to differ. All 31 Spruances were retired (and disposed of) before reaching their 35 year service lives. Seven had served twenty years or fewer. In essence, nearly new, modern ships. Why? The altar of “operating costs”. And what was the savings annually of losing 5-6 modern units a year until they were gone? Not even the cost of a single DDG-51. All four Virginias (CGN-38) were retired with fewer than twenty years of service. One (CGN-39) having served a mere 15 years in commission.
    The first five Ticonderogas went out of commission because the USN would not install the VLS in these nearly new ships, again due to “costs”. So five $1.5 billion warships are decommissioned, and NOT mothballed, but stricken for disposal. Only one had served as many as twenty years.

    Forty modern, capable combat vessels, gone. And not replaced. And with them went a significant portion of the “presence” ADM McCullogh speaks of.

    “If one observes critically, this is exactly what is going on”

    It doesn’t appear so at all. The numbers planned for additional DDG-51/CG-47s or their derivatives are far short of making up for the losses of the above vessels or the retirement of the FFG-7s, if that winds up being a course taken.

    The time when the COCOMS will have to begin re-writing OPLANS (if it hasn’t happened already) because the US Navy cannot perform the missions currently assigned to it will be the official abdication of control of the maritime domain. If the USN becomes little more than ten or eleven CSGs with the AEGIS platforms to protect them, with some SSN/SSBNs mixed in, it will have become the “self-licking ice cream cone”. Extreme parochialism (“If you ain’t carriers/AEGIS, you ain’t crap!”) has steered us in that direction, and it needed to stop long ago.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    URR,

    The Spruance class ships are mostly about 1 nm below the surface of the ocean. Re-hashing that debate will not raise them to the surface.

    What I have correctly pointed out is that in order to reach the arbitrary (as far as I can tell) 313 in 2020 and beyond the DDGs and CGs have been magically extended to 40 year service life ships.

    Much of the surface ship debate in the USNI space (comments as a shining example) has been focused on the past that cannot be changed or solutions that don’t make any sense (either strategically, fiscally, or operationally).

    I am as guilty of the previous observations as the next commenter, but I think it is time to shift the debate to a forward looking bias rather than and aft looking bias. I agree with you in principle, but many of the comments to date fail to recognize that the USN is really constrained by history.

    V/R,

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Benjamin,

    Everything is constrained by history. Or damned well should be. And what I speak of is not ancient history, but very recent history. It represents a continuing mindset that there is a bottomless pit of resources and money. It is important to examine the decision processes that put the Spru-cans where they are. Ditto the CGN-38s and the Ticos. THAT represented thinking “not constrained by history”, with the wasteful decommissioning of valuable assets. Purchased at significant taxpayer expense. The US Navy for many decades understood that warships were a valuable asset bought with national treasure, and cared for and preserved them as so. The departure from that approach has been a disaster.

    As to your comment about solutions that don’t make sense, that is your opinion, which you are certainly entitled to. However, what is deeply concerning to many is that the USN/SECNAV and DoD have offered no solution whatever. In fact, some of their statements are to the effect that there IS no solution, save a dangerous and perhaps permanent weakening of the US Navy. At least there is no solution they are willing to consider or pay for.

    My comment about the COCOM OPLANs is very much a forward-looking observation. It reflects a BIG future problem, getting ever closer to being a current problem, if it is not one already. The Maritime Component Commander is assigned certain missions as a part of a campaign plan, and must be able to accomplish those missions with the forces apportioned, attached, or assigned. In certain areas and scenarios, the margin is already paper-thin. Soon, very soon, the CFMCC/JFMCC will NOT be able to accomplish those missions, even before accounting for enemy action and combat losses. That is mission failure, plain and simple. Brought about as a result of the mindset of the recent two decades. Such is the difference between winning and losing a fight.

  • Byron

    Ben, history teaches us how to prepare for the future. US Navy history shows us the mistakes and the successes and how to learn from both. You talk about the future when the COCOMs won’t have the platforms to accomplish his mission. You talk about affordability. The only real truth to this is that you must carefully consider how you spend your money today, for the nations treasure, its’ members of the Armed Forces will be the ones to pay the price of fiscal short-sightedness. We’ve raised many questions about the LCS, and almost all the answers have been completely un-related to an actual combat mission. Combat is the ultimate purpose of warships, whether they be a frigate or an aircraft carrier. The Navy must chose wisely if it is to be able to prevail in the next war.

    All we have asked is to reduce production of LCS. Keep the production low, to maintain skill base (people like myself) and let the existing ships actually perform the missions envisaged for them. Put them through their paces, try them hard. At the same time, start a SLEP for the Perry’s. You can halt it at any time. This allows you to have options, while not breaking the bank. And God knows, there’s enough wasted in the Navy’s bankroll we can get the money to do what we need to do.

    Anyone out there that knows of Navy installations in silly places that Congress has decided to bestow upon the taxpayers?

  • Grampa Bluewater

    At this juncture I would like to point out that the FFG’s transferred to, or built for, allied navies are being SLEP’ed.
    All we would have to do is pick the plan we like and have it done to the USN FFG’s. The RAN plans are even in english, although there is nothing much to criticize about the others.

  • capospin

    Well, after all this good information that has been posted we know understand the LCS has no mission. The LCS fits no mission the US Navy must do in a war at sea. We also understand the LCS has much the political class wave or push behind it. Although it is on its points a bad idea from the start we still have the LCS. Also it has been posted that we do not have a navy the size or shape we need to fight the next war or conduct current missions we have now. The plan t save money be scraping entire classes of modern warships in the last two decades has not saved any money or helped the combat ability of the Navy in any way. This policy has damaged the Navy in a major way. Can we stop the LCS? Is it to late to make it into something less bad? We need to build a fleet of big and smaller warships. DDs DDGs and DEs. These ship should have (n) power plants. You know that Rickover was and is right on this point! Money should not be an issue, the political class will make it so, so we should go for a high-low mix like back in the 70s and 80s. SLEP and FRAM programs are a part of this. The LCS is not. The Navy must start fighting for Sea Power in Congress now.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    OK. I’LL BITE. What (SPECIFICALLY) does a SLEP FFG look like. Feel free to include cost estimates and trade-offs.

    Good luck.

  • Grampa Bluewater

    BW: If you want a white paper on what a SLEP for the FFG’s, fully
    justified down to the last item in the package and the last dime, in twenty five words or less, I can’t help you. Nice throw away line to go for debating points, though.

    Me, I like to be tight with the public’s money until I know what I’m doing, then go for the volume discount. Or I did, way back when I could, to the tiny extent I had the power to do so. Also, I don’t think ships pop like soap bubbles on the 30th anniversary of their keel laying. Maintenence and update can go a long way to retain and gain capability if you work smart. A lot of good work was done by the humble Guppies I and II and the FRAM cans for a very long time.

    Point is not every nation buys the theory of “throw it away if it’s 20-25 years old and you don’t have the priority (“national will” if you like a fine 1930’s-ish ring of irreversible inevitability) to replace it one for one”.

    Just to freshen up the debate, take a look at the land of Oz’s take, for instance:

    http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/australias-hazardous-frigate-upgrade-04586/

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    The RAN experience is one of the reasons that I don’t think a SLEP of the FFGs is a good use of the taxpayers money. As the link you provided shows, the project is now running on 15 years long, 4 years behind schedule and at a cost of $360B per ship the RAN has purchased 10 years of extra service life for essentially 1970s technology. I would dearly love to hear the rationalizations that would argue for this being a “good deal.”

    V/R,

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    That last post should have read $360M per ship rather than $360B per ship. My opinion that this is not a “good deal” remains unchanged by the typo.

  • capospin

    Ok Ben so the LCS is a good deal? How can a SLEP FFG be 70s technology? Is not the point to put updated systems in the ship? So she would be on older ship with new or updated systems. The point is the LCS as she is today is a bad idea. Scrapping mid life warships to save operational money is not the way to build the combat fleet the navy needs to do the job. New ships in many more numbers concurrent with a SLEP/FRAM program is what we need.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    “Is not the point to put updated systems in the ship?”

    This is precisely why I asked the question about what a “bobtail SLEP” looks like to the advocates of this position. I have not asked for a white paper or any other such non-sense. I have only asked that the true believers regarding the efficacy and economy of SLEPing an FFG provide at least some level of detail as to what that would entail so those points can be rationally debated.

    Based on Byron’s estimates of $20M per hull to execute his vision, I can tell you from experience that it will not buy a great deal more service life for the hull, electrical, and mechanical systems of the FFGs that are not really mid-life warships as you claim, but are actually coming very quickly to the end of their design service life.

    I also don’t think that same $20M will be stretched to improve the legacy (and closed architecture) combat and C4ISR systems to a level that the advocates seem to believe. The price for a docking selected restricted availability (far smaller in scope than any FRAM or SLEP as far as I can tell) is running in the $7M-$10M price range.

    Examples of 70’s technology that may still exist after a SLEP are the machinery control consoles, the switchboards, the 400 Hz generators, the desalination systems, the internal communication system, etc. I am left to guess because the advocates for such a course of action have simply refused to provide any level of detail regarding their vision. A bullet list of systems that you envision to be modernized would be just fine.

    The fact that the RAN effort ran $360M per hull should at least cause any serious participant in this debate some uncomfortable thoughts regarding the what the cost for a FFG SLEP would be and if the cost is worth the investment. Ironically, this is the example that an advocate provided to educate me.

    I have never advocated scrapping mid-life ships. You seem to be the one defining 24 year FFGs as having the characteristics of a mid-life platform without any basis at all from a technical perspective for that claim.

    V/R,

  • sid

    Examples of 70’s technology that may still exist after a SLEP…

    Well, at least that old stuff gets underway more often than not

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    “Examples of 70’s technology that may still exist after a SLEP…

    Well, at least that old stuff gets underway more often than not…”

    You are correct to an extent. I interperet the recent INSURV results from active ships to indicate that many of the same problems probably exist in the mature technology and mature HM&E systems fieled. They are just being ignored in order to support the OPTEMPO. How’s that gonna work out if the level of presumed survivability is not quite what has been advertised?

    V/R,

  • Grampa Bluewater

    Perfection is the death of affordable adequacy.

    One hates to reiterate, but HM&E do not vanish like a soap bubble popping when a installed digital clock reaches an arbitrarily established design service life. Class B (repair to installation specs) or Class C (repair by replacement or repair of inoperative or worn beyond max spec components) overhauls may be accomplished comparatively economically by SIMA or (alas, foolishly deleted) Tender sailors and shops. Functional components can be stripped from inactive ships of the class. While failure to spend pennies on “mothballing” has had a repair opportunity cost of dollars or hundreds in terms of repair opportunity, H,M & E components are robust. Most or much of it is still good, or less worn and cheaper to repair than equipment in service. Particularly if you can make one out of two.

    Excuse the following digression into basic good practice that follows, but the postings that are up show that many don’t understand that execution of the fundamentals is a key to long, effective ship life.

    Preventative maintenence (clean, preserve, lubricate, test, analyze, align, adjust, calibrate) must be done. If filter housings, access panels, zirc fittings and the like don’t have tool scars on the paint covering the bolts and nuts, it’s not.

    Minor corrective maintenence must be done promptly, lest it grow into a major repair. INSURV publishes (still, hopefully) a list of common and repetitive deficiencies for every ship class extant. The measure of state of repair is best measured by how much of a preponderance of minor items outweighs the show stoppers in the report. Part I (serious) Safety and Mission Degrading items are more often than not correctable in short order given the increased command attention brought to bear and high level expertise freed up from NAVSEA’s Engineering Centers.

    The experienced and wise XO’s send their wardroom and CPO’s out looking for the common and repetitive deficiencies as part of an active zone inspection program,and then follow up. Every defect is logged with a job sequence number in the equipment deficiency log. The Captain goes through that log with the Department Head once a week. Standard questions: Casrep needed?; drafted and sent?; Gear troubleshot, parts on order?; RQN Number and status?: Work Request submitted?; JSN/PRI?. (Suggested order of sequence: NavOps Monday; Engineering Tuesday; Weapons/Combat Systems Wednesday; Supply Thursday; Friday Field Day/PB for T, Zone inspection,Fish Dinner.)

    XO checks a chunk of Heads & Beds each day, Captain goes walkabout every day and looks at something, no notice, HARD. The EDL goes to every drill critique to log emergent items.

    Timely and appropriate submission of “minor” CASREP’s MUST be viewed as evidence of due diligence and engineering/technical competence by superiors in the chain of command.

    (Back on topic)

    That’s before SLEP. SLEP gets the hard to reach, replaces/updates obsolete weapons and fire control, adds new countermeasures for new threats,installs major shipalts, A&I’s, Field changes, junks the headache hangar queen Mk 1 with a solid reliable Mk 4. SLEP uses proven systems being purchased, reducing per unit cost by purchasing additional units. Let the words “redo the wardroom wallpaper and furnishings” never be breathed aloud.

    I could go on (and on, and on), but you get my drift.

    This, while requiring very hard work and expertise by ship’s force, in the long run, lowers maintenence costs and extends vessel life. A lot. Just don’t cut the manning to minimum levels, it’s a false economy for repair, training, and survivability.

    But that’s another post.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    GBW,

    I get your drift regarding basic maintenance. I understand completely what a SLEP is intended to do. I have recent experience with all of the above.

    What you are describing is how you wish (and I wish) things to be. That is a longer term problem that needs to be addressed, and I would dearly love to see someone offer some solutions to the maintenance disaster that is currently unfolding in the surface fleet. Unfortunately, you are not describing the current reality.

    There are only two tenders left. As much as we would like to reverse those decisions, that is water under the bridge. There are zero SIMAs left. Again, water under the bridge. Sailors (in the surface force) do not really do deep maintenance, and the zone inspection program is failing if the INSURV results are any indication (and they are). Beyond the ability to do maintenance, it appears that the surface force has largely lost the ability to even identify and diagnose MAJOR problems.

    More to the point, a SLEP program for the FFG class would be throwing good money after bad at this point and is not a technically or economically viable alternative. It cannot be done for $20M per hull as suggested, and the OQE for that are the costly RAN efforts to date.

    V/R,

  • Grampa Bluewater

    BW:
    I am well aware things are not as one might wish. Put my little rant down as instruction for the young. Advice for the perplexed, if you wish.

    You are just a little too accepting of the inevitability of decay and decline. Pushing back has its risks, but what’s the point of making CNO of a 100 minus ship, no fleet auxiliaries, no viable escorts, four (maybe zero) carrier navy that can deploy (sort of) about three barely adequate battle groups. Which is where the current crop of JO’s will be in about two decades, at the current rate of decline. Faint heart and foolish policy did not win the cold war, or prepare (barely) the fleet for WWII.

    Jefferson’s Coastal Gunboat policy was folly made manifest. While took the embarassment of a burnt out Capital to get the ball rolling, it got reversed.

    Besides this isn’t a national problem, it’s a Navy problem. We had similar problems in the early seventies and fixed them. Most of what I digressed about in my little rant on good maintenence practice falls squarely on the shoulders of the CO/XO/Dept Heads. The rest is on the Commodore and his Material Officer and ultimately, the type commander.

    The first step to fixing a problem is documenting it, which is something any division officer can do. If he doesn’t know how to inspect his own gear, she needs to pick the brain of his/her Chief/First Class.

    At the other end, command interest at the flag level is essential. Fortunately, we pick new flag officers every year.
    Sooner or later some of them will realize they are going to inherit the mess, and get more proactive about pushing back against the tide of poor decision making that is eating the ROV and OMN money, not to mention the Navy’s credibility.

    If the Air Force can lose a Secretary and a Chief of Staff to failure to execute the fundamentals on nuclear weapons safety and security, the Navy had best clean its own house on basic maintenence and ship design. I hope the rot isn’t deep enough to get higher than Navy involved, but if the top few rows of the stack of boxes poster think their good names aren’t on the line, they will soon enough.

    As far as the RAN SLEP or FRAM or whatever, at least we have an approximate upper bound on cost that has some foundation in reality. Don’t forget it should be cheaper to use an existing solution than pay the upfront costs to develop one.

    As an aside, there are tender hulls in the reserve fleet (I think, it’s hard to keep up with the march of folly). There are lots of skills in the Ready Reserve. Man one up, put it to work on breaking itself out. Then put her to work. Repeat.

    Enough for now. Out of the loop old men need their rest, so they can rise and rant again.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    GBW,

    It was a good rant and filled with great advice. I think a blog post here at USNI on those historical lessons would be of value. I do not believe in inevitable decay, and if you think about it you will realize that what I have been doing (fairly consistently now) regarding an FFG SLEP is pushing back on what I believe is a foolish idea (SLEP for the FFGs).

    I am not happy with the LCS (for a number of reasons), but it is what the Navy has now, and I believe that there should be some mental capital spent on figuring out how to make it work for the USN. That would be orders of magnitude more productive than the pages of ink spilled about the ship’s shortcomings and wild-eyed ideas about how to return to the past (from a platform perspective).

    The maintenance article would be good too.

    V/R,

  • LCDR Luke Schmidt

    Excellent data analysis, however your blog does not take into consideration future defense spending cutbacks, which are already being seen with the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) proposing the closing of Joint Forces Command. I understand your analysis was written before SECDEF warned all services to prepare for future cutbacks in defense spending. With the budget in mind and only two surface combatant options, I think we will see many more LCS ships being built than DDGs.
    Agree that a FFG Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) would be a terrible option, despite any argument that the Florida congressional representatives can make in hopes of saving jobs in Mayport, FL. As a former FFG Combat Systems Officer, I can assure you that the Oliver-Hazard Perry-Class frigate is an extremely outdated surface combatant with very limited and sometimes unreliable combat capability. Additionally, the maintenance cost for an increased sustainment life would outweigh any possible benefit of maintaining these ships in the fleet. We should be more concerned about having the right type of ships to meet the current and future mission demands and threats vice just trying to reach a 313-ship Navy on the books.
    I believe the current number of FFGs in USN service is 29. I have not heard any plans to build 48 LCS ships in order to replace the current fleet of FFGs. Latest plan, which has been proposed, to Congress is for authorization to build 20 additional LCS ships, 10 additional LCS per hull design. This doesn’t even match the current number of FFGs in service.
    For survivability in the littorals, the LCS is just as survivable if not more so than the FFG which also operates in the littorals to some extent. With the FFG being replaced by the LCS that has minimal manning, I also question if the LCS is going to be capable of filling the same missions as the FFG such as Counter-Narco Terrorism (CNT) operations, piracy operations, and even just conducting a replenishment at sea due to manpower demands.
    As far as utilizing the LCS as an unmanned mothership, that probably would not be feasible nor has there ever been a need for the Navy to operate motherships. Therefore, your question concerning the use of LCS as an unmanned mothership is not exactly relevant.
    Did the Navy get it right with the LCS design? I believe they possibly did design a ship, which is capable of meeting the various mission demands. I only question the minimal manning requirement since I have not personally seen nor heard how the FREEDOM and INDEPENDANCE have fared in day-to-day operations.

    V/R,
    LCDR Luke Schmidt

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