080728-O-XXXXX-001The September 2009 issue of Proceedings is topic centric to Naval Aviation, and there are several naval aviation articles in the issue that are very good. However, I want to discuss the subscription only LCS article written by Milan Vego included in this months issue. It covers a number of LCS issues from history to current situation with module challenges ahead, but as the title hints (the topic of the article is No Need for High Speed), the LCS speed issue is addressed squarely.

High speed for a surface combatant generally incurs much higher construction costs, power requirements, fuel consumption, and maintenance; and decreased range, payload, and stealth. Yet the Navy’s specifications required the LCS to achieve a full speed of 47 to 50 knots. Normally, the high-speed requirement is based on the ship’s size, primary missions, and prospective operating environment…

Because of the speed requirement, the useful space for weapons and sensors is only about 400 tons. After deducting the needs for fuel, ammunition, crew, and stores, some 180 tons of payload remain for the mission packages.

This article is nearly 2400 words, so I am not attempting to capture the greater quality present in the article, rather examine options available for the LCS the designs.

Bob Work released a report for CSBA (PDF) during the Presidential transition period that emphasized the Littoral Combat Ship from a point of view of innovation, suggesting block purchases be used to develop the design from the current starting position. Frank Hoffman released a report for CNAS (PDF) during the same Presidential transition period that also highlighted the need for innovations in littoral warfare. This isn’t trivial, Bob Work is Undersecretary of the Navy now, and Frank Hoffman is now working out of Bob Works office. That would suggest the civilian side of the Navy is looking at the two initial LCS designs as a starting place, not a conclusion.

Milan Vego’s article stresses that the high costs of the initial LCS hulls are a result of the emphasis on speed in the design of both ships; and he also suggests that emphasis directly influences design decisions that impact power requirements, fuel consumption, maintenance, endurance, and payload. Everything from the materials used to the specific detail design is influenced by the speed requirement, so if the LCS requirement for speed is reduced, my first question would be how much redesign is even possible? What would the LCS trade speed for?

Assuming the hull forms do not change significantly, the size and available space of the ships are unlikely to change. That means speed would be traded for either endurance or weight, perhaps a little of both. Maximum speed, cruising speed, and endurance are all factors primarily determined by the diesel and turbine engines, which raises the question whether change would require a redesign of the power plants. Could hull design changes, absent large scale power plant adjustments, significantly influence cruising speed on diesels? Absent the speed requirement, would there be significant cost reductions in LCS construction? I am unsure; I tend to think the costs will simply be spread around and savings will be minimal, but smart shipbuilders have suggested to me in the past that significant costs could be saved per hull by simply dropping the speed requirement.

If Milan Vego is right regarding the costs of speed, how does the Navy justify the increased costs? The Navy has a responsibility to the taxpayer to be a good steward of money spent for the fleet. How much of the LCS construction cost is a result of speed? 1/3? 1/4? 1/5? What about operational costs? What do logistics models look like with a cruising range of 4000nm? What about 6000nm? The Coast Guards Bertholf class has a 12,000nm range. What compelling warfighting argument suggests very high speed is ‘worth’ the investment?

The DDG-1000 was truncated for reasons of costs, likely in part due to the stealth design requirement in particular which increased the cost of existing large surface combatants by around 25%, because stealth required a much larger hull. I do wonder if the LCS cost is 25% higher because of the speed requirement. Both ships were over budget by several hundred million dollars, how much of the cost increase is a result of design considerations that must factor the speed requirement?

25% seems like a high estimate, but very smart people have suggested it may in fact be very close to the truth. Why would that extra cost for speed be excused? In the LCS program, the speed requirement could potentially be increasing the program costs by more than $7.5 billion over 55 hulls, and the operational cost increases as a result of the speed requirement won’t be insignificant.




Posted by galrahn in Uncategorized


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  • Grandpa Bluewater

    The whole business underlines the fact that ship design is a matter of reconciling the consequent requirements of every significant characteristic of the vessel and their interacting effects to obtain the optimum compromise for the final design.

    The complexity of these interlocking factors on performance, and the scope of the problem for each design, are major reasons for an evolutionary strategy, and a weather eye on the lessons of history with respect to the success of previous designs in similar operating environments.

    Corporate amnesia allows one to disregard generations of painfully accumulated wisdom. The last twenty years of “right sizing” have produced a huge hemorage (sp?) of technical expertise, and more importantly, isolated the bearers of that expertise from their successors, ensuring the permanent loss of their experience, which included much of the experience of their predecessors.

    Don’t know much about history….in too many cases.

    Declaring a “great leap forward” which yields “revolutionary results” sounds grand, particularly as a justification for “crash” program. All too often, all that results is a crash, i.e., a catastrophic fall to earth. The sum of the revolutionary activity, at the final accounting, has been the spinning one’s wheels.

    This can generate a need for “comprehensive change” or “restructuring” and “reorganization”. All of which raises my personal imp (small demon) which whispers in my ear “What in their life experience led them to believe in the wisdom of attempting to eat an elephant in one bite?”

    The die, I fear, is cast. Now we get to watch it all unfold before our eyes…again. My advice? Limit purchase of letterhead stationary, it will change. Sooner rather than later.

    One other thing. Pray for the men and women who will have to go to sea and into battle in these ships, as well.

  • http://www.usni.org admin

    I have made this article publically available:
    http://www.usni.org/magazines/proceedings/story.asp?STORY_ID=2028

  • Mike M.

    I wonder how much of this excessive speed requirement is the result of one or two flag-level officers getting intransigent. My experience working major programs is that the program manager has limited ability to control tradeoffs – especially these days, when the Navy has (at DOD direction) dismantled a lot of its internal design analysis capability.

    What tends to happen is that someone at a high level demands very high performance in one area…and the hapless program manager, an O-5 or O-6, has limited ammo to point out the costs associated with that high performance.

    Which is considerable, for LCS. I can well believe that the speed requirement accounts for 25% of the cost.

    The question of salvaging the LCS design is another matter. The obvious trade is speed for endurance. But it still leaves the whole question of whether or not you still wind up with a ship that is too expensive to build in quantity, but lacks the fighting power for blue-water operations.

    Right now, I would be more inclined to take the LCS low-manning technology and apply it to a more sensible requirement for an inshore corvette. A vessel specifically designed to operate under the protective unbrella of more powerful ships further offshore.

  • Cap’n Bill

    I am far removed from thiis situation except as the grandfather of some kids who must pay the cost. Grandfather Bluewater suggests the die is cast. Yes, it would require a complete change of face and a large portion of humble pie but my guts tell me “the system” could manipulate their facial makeup and start looking abroad for a better design for such an important piece of work. Let the wordsmiths explain how this came to pass and how fortunate we are that there was time to correct matters.

    Failure to do so will lead to a complete slam of the Navy’s ability to design and produce what they have told the citizen-taxpayor was needed. Who will ever again trust the USN to “get its act together? ?

  • http://smadanek.blogspot.com Ken Adams, Amphib Sailor

    I found Vego’s remark that “because of the speed requirement, the useful space for weapons and sensors is only about 400 tons” [emphasis mine] to be very interesting, because the implication of speed as the cause of the “limitation” isn’t supported by historical ship designs. Look back at the sensor and weapon suites for just about any combatant design, and you’ll find that they are distributed around 10% of displacement. 400 tons equates to 13% of LCS displacement, i.e., better than average for a combatant design. In their May 1983 Naval Engineers Journal paper “Fundamentals of Naval Surface Ship Weight Estimating,” Erwin K. Straubinger, William C. Curran & Vincent L. Fighera provided data showing that across 12 different ship classes, the weight of combat systems was between 7.7% and 13.9% of total weight. Based on those upper and lower bounds, for a 400 ton combat system capacity LCS should displace somewhere between 2880 and 5200 tons. Sounds to me like LCS may actually be small for the capability she can deliver.

  • Byron

    Well, to start off Galrahn, this isn’t much new information, given that a bunch of folks including yours truly led by CDR Salamander have been pounding on this Tiffany Gunboat for the past three years. Sid in particular has been scathing in his remarks about the speed requirement, and raised very similar concerns about the payoff for the speed. Second, even if LCS was a manly ship, ready and able to sail into harms way tomorrow, she CAN’T: Where is the wonderful modules that are supposed to make this floating gold-plated scow such a revolutionary national asset? Is there even one ready to go to war? I mean, why not? We have one each of the two designs (gotta wonder about that one, didn’t SecDef just tell someone to shut up about two engines for JSF?), both are in the water, why can’t we slap a module aboard, chain it down, hook up the wires and piping, and let’s go hunting mines and subs?!

    Uh…are any of them ready yet?

  • SwitchBlade

    Just for the record (maybe because I served on FFG-7s and PHMs) I’ve been against the LCS from the beginning. PHMs were a refresher that speed isn’t an answer for anything other than catching a faster vessel that you don’t want to disable or sink (or to get into range of that vessel). Now we have indigenous helicopters and RPVs. Speed is useless as a defense in today’s world – a point made in the article. (I submit that while repositioning in less time may sometimes be useful – the few times it would be aren’t worth the cost.)

    I’m also not convinced that swapping modules for different missions is a good idea. There is no doubt in my mind that ships will be in the right area without the right mission module and being tasked with doing the mission anyway. And, as stated int he article, this will be the wrong platform for the mine sweeping mission which should be left to minesweepers. The US isn’t the Netherlands; we should put to see with fully capable ships. Let the Coast Guard design and build convertible ships.

    To address one of galrahn’s questions: “What would the LCS trade speed for?” As stated in the full article and indirectly by me – the weapon systems that should have been included in the basic structure. I understand the Navy wanting to keep the size down, we’re basically trying to build a frigate (bad word after they screwed up the FFG-7 design) or corvette and keep it under 3000 tons. So put a phased array radar and a couple of dozen vertical launched Sea Sparrow missiles on it. Expecting a littoral ship to be protected by a “A vessel specifically designed to operate under the protective umbrella of more powerful ships further offshore” kind of defeats the concept of a littoral ship! The threat will probably be below the radar horizon of the off shore ship. Otherwise the more capable ship should probable be doing the mission.Exchange the RAM launcher for CIWS or a duel RAM/CIWS system.

    Not being an engineer, I can’t address the speed vs cost or weight questions. However, as stated in the full article, there hasn’t been a justification for the speed. In littorals it tends to get ships in trouble running into things from small fishing boats that can only be seen visually to whales which can’t get out of the way fast enough.

  • SwitchBlade

    And another thing while we’re on the subject. Since its a littoral ship it will most likely be tasked with the boarding and searches.
    With a 40 man crew plus the module crew – who is going to be tasked with this mission – the off watch section? As crew ends up being added (a LEO Det. for searches) and the fictional base vessel, when is the point at which a ship should have been built with full capability and crew size reached?

  • Byron

    And that whole messy damage control thing…

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Comments from the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal post, but pertinent here….

    “The point being re: LCS is that the less able a vessel is to absorb punishment, the greater the spectrum of weapons that can disable/destroy the ship. I am not worried as much in the littoral about a super-modern ASM or torpedo. It is the weapons that are plentiful and cheap, and easy to use that one will find in spades on a hostile shore. 14.5mm and 12.7mm HMGs, RPG-18s, 82mm mortars with a time fuze, antitank guns, grenade launchers, the whole gamut. They will tear through a vessel not built to withstand punishment, putting systems out of commission (including automated DC), and killing or wounding the precious few crewmen aboard. Talk about your asymmetric warfare. A salvo of $300 mortar rounds or a belt of machine gun ammunition getting a mission kill on a $500 million warship. Or worse. Unless the LCS can outrun an RPG, an antitank round, or a 14.5 or 23mm machine gun bullet, 40 knots is not much help.”

  • http://smadanek.blogspot.com/ Ken Adams, Amphib Sailor

    I have to wonder, from what equipment or structural groupings would we expect to see cost savings if we were to take the current hulls and reduce the speed requirements? It seems that the opportunity lies in Group 2 (propulsion), and potentially in Group 5 (auxiliaries). Do those two groups together account for 25% of the total material and labor cost? Does labor even factor into the equation, or is it a wash because which engine gets landed on the foundation doesn’t matter? How much less steel or aluminum would a 30-knot LCS require vs. a 40-knot LCS?
    I’m sure that the designers of each LCS have the answers to many of these questions. In the five years since the Final Design and Construction contracts were awarded, they’ve been challenged to hold cost growth down in the face of the various schedule slips, requirements changes, mistakes and accidents that have occurred along the way. Each time, they’ve been faced with capability-cost trades, asking themselves, “what can I give up and how much will it save?” If the 40-knot speed is as big a driver as Galrahn’s “smart shipbuilders” tell him, it has to have been on the table at one point or another.

  • http://smadanek.blogspot.com/ Ken Adams, Amphib Sailor

    @URR, the point is well taken on being able to take damage, but ignores the fact that LCS has weapons that can outrange those cited. In discussing survivability, we frequently leave out our own ability to inflict damage on the enemy. It hardly seems fair to worry over taking hits from 12.7s and 23s and simultaneously mock LCS for only having a 57 and a pair of 30s.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Ken,

    That the LCS weapons outrange the weapons I have listed is a function of a vision of littoral warfare that I don’t buy for a minute. In order to engage at the optimum envelope, those enemy weapons have to be found and targeted accurately, two massive assumptions in the littoral. Simple systems such as I mention do not have sexy things like radar signatures or tell-tale logistical support trails. They can and are manhandled into buildings, garages, small craft, jungle, just about anywhere you can think of. Particularly if the enemy knows that we have restrictive rules of engagement and cannot simply go weapons free.

    The 57mm and pair of 30s won’t do much good if the bad guys get to shoot, and hit, first. Welcome to the dirty, messy world of littoral warfare, particularly if it is IW. If I, as the bad guy leader, can muscle a ZU 23-2 into a house or a well-camouflaged pit near the waterline, I am willing to trade that (if you ever get permission to engage in a civilian neighborhood… see: Gaza 2006) for hitting an LCS seventy or eighty times. Such a weapon system at close range would chew up that fragile little vessel, and kill a bunch of Sailors in the process. Those crews are trained to hit helicopters flying in three dimensions at 80 knots. What makes us think they can’t hit a 3,000 ton warship at 40 knots?

    The same scenario can be played out for any of the weapon systems I mentioned. Cheap, plentiful weapons and ammunition, easy to use, in the hands of a determined enemy. The LCS seems to be designed around the concept that this immutable truth simply isn’t so. Hence my chagrin at its lack of survivability. We constantly overestimate our ability to locate and target the low-end weapon systems. A Small Fred? Find it as soon as it radiates. Iron sights don’t radiate. The bad guys know that too.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    *Burma Shave*

    Syntax warning!

    The first sentence above should read:

    “That the LCS has to rely on its weapons to outrange….”

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDR Salamander

    Like Byron mentioned, I invite everyone to come on over to my place and review via the “LCS” tag for all the discussions we have had for over three years on LCS – the best information is in the comments BTW. I won’t repeat it here.

    For brevity’s sake; here is the problem in 2009. We have a failed concept that is LCS. From its goofy “transformationalist buzzword” naming convention, to its uni-mission “mission module” construct, to its exorbitant cost, to the just plain bad warfare theory that spawned it – it is a failure.

    As an institution though, we are willing to ride this through a fiscal catalyst to significant strategic risk to our shipbuilding infrastructure and fleet warfighting ability.

    As we look towards 2010, it is better to perhaps enlist a psychiatrist to answer our questions on why we continue to throw money at this dog’s breakfast than a program manager, budgeteer, politician, or strategist.

  • http://smadanek.blogspot.com/ Ken Adams, Amphib Sailor

    URR, the same could be said for ANY naval platform currently in service or in design. There isn’t a ship out there built to take a perfectly executed ambush from concealed positions on shore within a thousand yards, but that’s what I hear you asking of LCS. The design trade-offs to get to such a vessel would leave you with either a lumbering armored tank or something so small and agile that it would have no payload.
    If we made vulnerability the single driving requirement behind a ship design, we’d never build a ship. Vulnerability reduction has to be considered in the design, as sid so often preaches, but there has to be a balance between survivability and mission capability.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    But Ken, when a vessel is not built to sufficient standards for surviving combat damage, the ambush can be a long way from perfect and still get a mission kill. Or sink the ship. The required effort and capability on the part of the enemy declines precipitously.

    Yes, every vessel would take damage in such a situation, and probably lose a critical system or two. But to be rendered incapable of combat is another story. I would submit that a good old Gearing-class destroyer could absorb a hell of a lot more punishment and fire back with sufficient firepower to win the engagement, and continue to fight. How do we know this? They did, over and over again, throughout their service histories in big wars and small. And Gearings weighed in at about 2/3 the displacement of the LCS. With speeds approaching 40 knots. Huh.

    And that is the whole point. Not building Gearings again. But to instead build a modern design for a rugged and tough little ship capable of absorbing considerable punishment and not only surviving but continuing the fight. We used to. We seem to have “transformated” out of such common sense endeavors and designs. IN doing so, we are leaving the Sailors as potential sacrifices on the twin altars of speed and technology.

    The balance between survivability and mission capability is not the issue. I would argue that one begets the other. A well-built and sturdy ship is far harder to sink or put out of action than one that is built to lesser standards. No smaller vessel is likely to remain mission-capable (or even afloat) after a modern torpedo hit, and a mission kill from a lethal ASM is likely. But when the design surrenders all for speed and technology, the enemy will hardly need those weapon systems to do the job. They will find a low-tech solution available to them that will do nicely.

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

    But Ken, when a vessel is not built to sufficient standards for surviving combat damage, the ambush can be a long way from perfect and still get a mission kill. Or sink the ship. The required effort and capability on the part of the enemy declines precipitously.

    The survivability argument doesn’t impress me much. Show me post NVR data on LCS survivability. Show me where a 3000 ton ship is going to be mission capable after taking a direct hit from a modern weapon system. Don’t even try to bring up INS Hanit unless you know what happened, because I do know what happened there, and that example is poorly used all the time.

    The rest of the world is running around building safe designs that haven’t evolved much in 40 years, and the US Navy is trying something new. I’m all for it, because with 84 AEGIS ships the US Navy can afford to innovate. Will it work? On paper, I agree there are still a lot of questions, but I am patient and would rather see what this thing can do for real before chalking it up as a failure before it even gets tested.

    The Navy needs to aim basic and innovate. Both LCS hulls are pretty basic IMO, and have plenty of room for innovation.

    No one was much impressed with the Pensacola class when they were built either, and yet, through an innovative process of EVOLUTION we ended up with the Baltimore and Oregon City classes when we needed them in WWII. When I look at Freedom and Independence, I see the Pensacola and Salt Lake City of a previous era.

    Know your history, Pensacola and Salt Lake City didn’t have enough armor or firepower to compete; they were inferior said the critics. Yet… despite being in many battles both ships somehow survived WWII. Everything critics like CDR Salamander are saying about LCS was said about those ships too. I’m sure today’s critics have a reason why it is different this time, but I don’t think so. The same factors that made it work then still exists today… I believe in two things:

    1) American ingenuity will come through now like it did back then, and I look forward to seeing how that process happens.

    2) Put sailors on ships and good things will happen when the goal is innovation and improvement. Given that I have personally spoken to Bob Work and several other Navy leaders on the specific topic of innovating the LCS, I’m very confident that is the stated goal early in the program.

    The emphasis towards innovation is why they are all behind the program, despite obvious problems with the initial set of design requirements.

  • sid

    The survivability argument doesn’t impress me much. Show me post NVR data on LCS survivability. Show me where a 3000 ton ship is going to be mission capable after taking a direct hit from a modern weapon system. Don’t even try to bring up INS Hanit unless you know what happened, because I do know what happened there, and that example is poorly used all the time.

    Strawman argument if there ever was one Galrahn…

    No worries about any “modern” weapons systems needing to be brought to bear. All you need is is some little bit of timeless splinter damage in that cluster of completely unprotected hydraulics, and all you will have is a 3000 ton combat LIABILITY

    Ken is entirely correct. Survivability is dependent on a BALANCE of design attributes, along with rational operational and tactical doctrine.

    The LCS concept, and the two designs, come up short in every way.

  • sid

    No one was much impressed with the Pensacola class when they were built either, and yet, through an innovative process of EVOLUTION we ended up with the Baltimore and Oregon City classes when we needed them in WWII. When I look at Freedom and Independence, I see the Pensacola and Salt Lake City of a previous era.

    During the time frame that the Pensacolas were designed and building on the ways, there were substantially improved designs already on the boards and ready to be built.

    No such rapid innovation is occurring today.

    All we are seeing is Powerpoint Pablum.

    Your historical reference isn’t working….

  • Byron

    To your point of sailors and innovation: Sailors aboard ships today don’t innovate a thing. They don’t even do much in the way of repair work, and the little they do ends up having to be fixed correctly by contractors. Case in point: Ship X had to have additional work not covered in the original specification, and since the ships budget was getting thin, X decided to do some of the work itself. In the case I speak to directly, they were tasked to remove the wires from two small stuffing tubes and pull them out of the way of hot work (the tubes required replacement. This is a very simple job. We ended up having to show them where the power source was, and the most economical point to do the disconnet. On top of this, it took a Chief, an LPO, and two other sailors four times the time it would take ONE electrician from the shipyard.

    Now, please don’t tell me that sailors are going to provide the ingenuity, unless you mean the ability to write a quality CASREP to get us to do it for them.

    Second, an apples/oranges argument: You cannot compare WW2 warships to LCS, simply because LCS concept has relied on automated DC completely. WW2 era ships had a significant percentage of sailors, Chiefs and officers dedicated to the DC mission. LCS will NOT be able to fight to save itself and fight the battle to kill whatever is trying to kill it at the same time. Can’t. Happen. The end result will be dead sailors or at best, if you can call it “at best”, captured sailors.

    Everyone likes to toss out buzzwords when they discuss LCS like “asymetric warfare”. The problem with this “asymetric” ship, is that it will operate in a totally asymetric region…the littoral. Never ever forget that the enemy gets a vote also. And since the bad guys always like to stuff the ballot box as it were, that puts LCS between a rock and a hard spot.

    Last, don’t let your boat ride down the Seaway put rose colored glasses over your eyes.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Gal,

    You left out the part where I mentioned that modern weapons such as ASM and torpedoes were not what I was talking about. The 23mm cannon, 14.5 and 12.7mm HMGs, RPGs, mortars, etc., are many decades old, some dating back to WWII. They are plentiful, and widely and effectively employed worldwide. Those weapons, ones we are certain to see, will chop up such a fragile design.

    Nobody is advocating 8″ Class A armor plate. There is much more to designing a vessel to absorb damage than armor. Layout and compartmentalization come to mind.

    Yes, the Pensacolas survived the war. We rolled the dice and won with those two “tinclads”. Not so lucky with the Northamptons or the Portlands. Lost four of eight. Did those large engineering spaces contribute?

    To stretch the analogy even further, one should picture Seydlitz after Jutland limping back to the Jade, down by the head and full of holes. And then one should consider the two beam-ends of Queen Mary, sticking out of the water after she exploded and sank. Bet the survivability argument would have impressed both of those crews….

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

    URR,

    I don’t think adding armor is a bad idea on LCS. It is a ship expected to fight small boats at close range, among other things. All that glass on LCS-1 needs to go, what a terrible idea.

    The layout and compartmentalization of LCS-1 don’t bother me. The mission zones consume a great deal of ships space, and those are sized big intentionally. I’m not sure how the concept works without the space. The rest of the ship doesn’t have a compartmentalization problem.

    I suspect that if the forward magazine of the Queen Mary exploded on either LCS, all the layout and compartmentalization changes in the world would do nothing to prevent the ship from sinking. I also suspect that if any magazine that exists on either LCS exploded, both LCS would survive. The explosion of that many 13.5in shells on the Queen Mary isn’t really a good analogy for anything on LCS.

    We will have to wait and see if my Pensacola analogy holds up. I think it will.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Gal,

    Agreed on the armor. Lightweight composite will give splinter protection at least. BIG improvement.

    My point on QM was not a direct comparison to LCS, but merely a point on survivability. Seydlitz had several hits that penetrated her protection, but managed to survive due to superior internal design and more stringent storage and handling procedures for powder bags.

  • Byron

    Splinter protection will probably come in the form of Kevlar panels fastened in between the structural members. It’s more or less how surface vessels manage it today. Down side is you also add on a lot more weight, thusly raising the ships metacenter on a design that’s already got a high metacenter. Makes for an interesting ride in heavy seas. Inclinometer will get a lot of attention.

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDR Salamander

    Gal,
    A nod and a slap.

    Nod: “But Ken, when a vessel is not built to sufficient standards for surviving combat damage, the ambush can be a long way from perfect and still get a mission kill. Or sink the ship. The required effort and capability on the part of the enemy declines precipitously.” — Damage Control and survivability with even minimal amounts of combat damage is a vignette that does not get on enough PPT – URR is spot on here.

    Slap: ” Everything critics like CDR Salamander are saying about LCS was said about those ships too. ” —– Shame on you. You have been reading my blog long enough to know that you have everything 180deg out WRT me and this subject. One of my repeated arguments has been to look at the SUCCESS of the cruiser development during WWI and WWII. That was a great example of EVOLUTIONARY over the REVOLUTIONARY – a process that I have been bleating about from day 1. The USN did not plan on building 55 PENSACOLAs but adjusted as she went along, as described.

    Though imperfect, PENSACOLA received thirteen battle stars for World War II service. Not bad for a failure – but her real value was the fact that she was never built to be perfect and as an institution we understood that we were imperfect beings that needed to address our shortcomings and improve as we went along. We have not done that with LCS – she has become a religion to some along with the concept that spawned her.

    It also needs to be mentioned that PENSACOLA was not a “new” type of ship sold as the bees knees, but was herself a evolutionary build off a proven concept.

    That is not what LCS has been sold as. As I have mentioned for years, I wish we could follow the cruiser development model, but that is not what the transformationalists have set up in our shipbuilding structure over the last decade.

    Imagine if we had continued the evolutionary development of the Frigate – we might have something along the lines of a NANSEN or ABSALON on station right now. Oh, that reminds me – one thing I don’t snerk enough about is how we have gone from “LCS is not a replacement for the FFG-7s, ….” to “…are needed to replace the FFG-7s…..”

    Of course, you know my solution to this problem too ……

  • Byron

    “SLEP THE FIGS!”

    “BUILD A NEW FFG!”

    Am I reading your mind? ;)

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Byron,

    Can I get 10% of the T-shirt sales? That would make a great novelty item.

  • Byron

    It’s all going to the Navy/Marine Corps Relief, brother ;)

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDRSalamander

    I was thinking more along the lines of a “Byron Bobblehead.” Everytime you knock his nogg’n, that phrase comes our the speakers with that Cajun-Cracker-Shipfitter voice of his.

  • sid

    I suspect that if the forward magazine of the Queen Mary exploded on either LCS, all the layout and compartmentalization changes in the world would do nothing to prevent the ship from sinking.

    More strawman G.

    Seydlitz had several hits that penetrated her protection, but managed to survive due to superior internal design and more stringent storage and handling procedures for powder bags.

    Great point URR.

    NO WARship will be invulnerable to loss. But the Seydlitz didn’t blow up in half after taking equivalent hits.

    Point is to mitigate cascading damage from less than catastrophic circumstances, so the ship can complete its mission. Thats the essence of Staying Power.

    And that is the attribute singularly missing in the LCS concept.

    It is to -very explicitly- rely on speed and superior vision for its survival.

    Lets go back -again- to what RADM Hamilton said when these ships were in early gestation:

    RADM Hamilton: As you know from reading the requirements documents, the survivability piece on LCS is different than DDG 51 or DDX or several of our other combatants. And what we’ve chosen to do here is couple high speed and maneuverability and situational awareness in ways that allow LCS to be in the right place at the right time and to be out of the right place at the wrong time. Okay?

    We have some modeling and simulation of the designs and know what effects different weapons might bring to those particular designs. But again, because our desire for speed gets us to alternative and lighter materials, the damage tolerance for large cruise missiles for example are not the same as those on a DDG 51.

    The LCS’s are built light to attain speed and superior vision in order to avoid the hit. Relying on hit avoidance through speed has proven not to work time and again. And visibility in the battlespace can never be guaranteed.

    And, again, from Capt. Wayne Hughes’ “Coastal Combat”:

    “The period from 1865 to 1914 rivals even our present age for sweeping technological development in peacetime…

    Tactical analysis failed in two significant respects only: overvaluation of speed, and failure to forsee the effects that poor visibility would have on major fleet actions.”

    It won’t work this time either.

    Lastly, when you get rid of the speed, then there is zip point zero need to live with the very badly compromised LCS hulls in production today.

  • http://www.usni.org admin

    [from admin: this comment got deleted on the backend. I’m posting it for the gentleman who emailed it to me]

    The ability for a first-line warship to rapidly exit a detected/
    threatened area and/or to maneuver at high speed to evade
    direct attack must be retained, and there are many historical
    examples of this just from World War 2:

    1. Thanks to its sufficiency of speed, Bismarck was able to evade
    and escape the radar-equipped, shadowing British heavy cruiser
    HMS Suffolk after sinking Hood and beating off the hardly
    commissioned Prince of Wales in the Battle of the Denmark Straits,
    and it was only relocated by luck well out of its initially anticipated
    whereabouts.

    2. Early in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the sufficiently fast Japanese
    superbattleship Musashi succumbed to our massed naval air attacks
    only after it lost headway, and Musashi was Center Force’s only significant
    loss to the point that Admiral Halsey began questioning the ultimate
    effectiveness of airpower against such heavy units.

    3. Our little USS Samuel B. Roberts destroyer escort was well over its boilers’
    redline, “trading broadsides” with and successfully dodging the counterfire
    of battleship Nagato in the Battle off Samar – until it had to go to full stop
    to avoid plowing into our destroyer USS Heermann, when that came
    charging out of the smoke. Within seconds of losing headway, Roberts was
    smashed and sunk by an avalanche of shells.

    In the Guadalcanal battles, both sides’ naval airpower was rapidly exhausted
    in the intense carrier battles, and both sides knew to avoid areas subject
    to landbased airpower whenever possible. Thus, surface ships’ survival
    most depended on their power relative to each other, and in my boardgame
    Sky, Sea, and Jungle surface ships’ tactical survival is primarily determined
    by a generalization of their guns and armor, rather than speed.

    However, in Leyte Gulf with all its daylight movement and air-sea combat,
    speed was the most significant determinant of survival, and I built that into
    my game Leyte Gulf Naval Chess Game boardgame (freely available on
    my http://LCoat.tripod.com website). And Phillipine archipelago operations
    should be closely studied with an eye to contemporary contigencies.

    Of course, another survivability question is whether armor or flotation
    is more important – and how they interface with speed.

    Lou Coatney, now in Norway, http://www.coatneyhistory.com

  • http://smadanek.blogspot.com Ken Adams, Amphib Sailor

    But Ken, when a vessel is not built to sufficient standards for surviving combat damage, the ambush can be a long way from perfect and still get a mission kill. Or sink the ship. The required effort and capability on the part of the enemy declines precipitously.

    URR, to what specific standards should an LCS be designed in order to survive the threat you cite? OPNAVINST 9070.1 Level I severity – the contractual criteria for LCS – is often criticized at Phib’s place as being insufficient for the mission. Those criticisms have typically ignored the requirement to develop “[d]efinitive engineering design values … to characterize the degrees of severity relative the the weapons effects.” Those specific effects, such as shock (airblast, mechanical, or underwater), debris, fire, fragmentation, internal burst, radiation, SAP warheads, and shaped charge warheads have been addressed in the LCS designs at levels required by the NAVSEA survivability engineers.

    Level I requires inherent seakeeping, EMP, shock hardening, individual protection for CBR, decontamination stations, and damage control and firefighting capability to deal with conflagrations. The ship (and crew) must be able to survive a hit and bring their ship home. The Navy decided that this was an “affordable protection” level that satisfied the missions in the projected operating environment where it intended to operate LCS.

    Level II requires “sustained operations when in support of a Battle Group and in the general war-at-sea area,” with the “ability for sustained combat operations following weapons impact.” It requires additional “redundancy, collective protection system, improved structural integrity and subdivision, fragmentation protection, signature reduction, conventional and nuclear blast protection and nuclear hardening.” Do you believe that LCS should be hardened against a nuclear attack? How does levying this requirement address the threat you raise? What capability would you trade off to achieve it?

    Level III would levy the requirement “to deal with the broad degrading effects of damage from anti-ship cruise missiles, … torpedoes and mines.” Should LCS be required to take the hit from a major weapon and keep fighting?

    The lack of public disclosure of the design features mitigating damage effects does not indicate their absence. Certainly, there are systems that appear to be unprotected, as sid pointed out above, but rational decisions about where to employ protection measures have to be made. Those decisions have to consider mission, cost, weight, and impact on other performance requirements. As a first-in-class ship, Freedom will act as a proving ground for many of those design decisions, and does not represent the final evolution of this type of capability. I agree with Galrahn, and I think the Pensacola analogy is likely to hold true.

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDRSalamander

    Lou,
    I am going to do this as a fast jab then let Sid come in with the power hand.

    On your points:
    1. Bismarck’s success had everything to do with a good operational deception plan, superior gunnery, and a tad bit of the all important luck. I don’t care how fast your BB is or how slow your torpedo carrying biplane is – a ship will not outrun an aircraft. Speed did nothing for Bismarck in the end.
    2. Musashi could have been as fast as a LCS and, once again, she would not outrun aircraft.
    3. Sammy B’s success had everything to do with “audacity” and less to do with speed. In any case, her speed was normal for her class – nothing to do with LCS.

    In any event – little of LCS’s missions will be spent at speed …. and I don’t care how fast your ship is – it cannot outrun a 23mm weapon system designed to engage jet aircraft. You cannot conduct ASW and MIW at speed. To go back to Gal’s premise: is speed worth the design trade-off. I don’t think either history, or present experience says that it is.

    LCS is a Corvette designed by a committee of theorists, and it shows.

  • sid

    Ken, by all accounts the LCS’s should be at least Level II ships by those definitions.

    Seems some would like to conveniently forget how much Stayking Power can be engineered into ships this size.

    That is, if you don’t sacrifice the design to the Siren song of Speed….

  • sid

    Ken, by all accounts the LCS’s should be at least Level II ships by those definitions.

    Seems some would like to conveniently forget how much Staying Power can be engineered into ships this size.

    That is, if you don’t sacrifice the design to the Siren song of Speed….

  • sid

    Those decisions have to consider mission, cost, weight, and impact on other performance requirements.

    Given RADM Hamilton’s reply in the interview now removed from the NAVSEA site, those were mighty poor decisions indeed.

    The Pensacola analogy falls flat on its butt as long as the stubborn insistence of staying with the current two hulls continues.

  • http://www.coatneyhistory.com Lou Coatney, now in Norway

    Cdr Sal,

    And yet in the Battle of Cape Engano, Ise and Hyuga successfully evaded innumerable divebombing and aerial torpedo attacks only thanks to their high-speed maneuvering. (The photos of them swanning through a sea of bomb splashes and torpedo tracks are breathtaking.)

    Speed is a primary need in any kind of combat operation, and what LCSs end up doing most effectively may only be realized once the curtain opens – God forbid.

    Thanks for responding.

    I do think I could beat you in the Denmark Straits, were I the British. :-)

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

    The Pensacola analogy falls flat on its butt as long as the stubborn insistence of staying with the current two hulls continues.

    Completely agree, and I stand by my analogy. Make of it what you want.

  • Byron

    Lou, how about one A/C with LGBs? Or an air launched ASM? The lethality of modern weapons breaks down the analogy a bit. Also, with a thin skinned warship and 20mm AP, I might not sink your ship, but I could sure get a mission kill in a hurry. Only takes two aircraft (which torpedo bombers found is the answer to weaving ships).

  • http://smadanek.blogspot.com Ken Adams, Amphib Sailor

    Sid, you are right, the Fletchers were amazingly tough and packed a hell of a punch with 5x 5-inch guns. I’d love to have a few hundred back in the fleet. I wonder what it would cost to dust off the prints and build them today.
    Adding in, of course:
    — those pesky habitability requirements
    — collective CBR protection
    — CHT systems
    — plastic disposal and storage rooms
    — carbon footprint reduction for those nasty black-oil boilers
    — diversity training spaces
    — etc. ad nauseam.

  • Byron

    Go with gas turbines. Much smaller footprint than that damn tea kettle. CHT is pipes and one tank. CBR is gas masks. PWP is one small space with the crusher and masher. Need more generation for FCUs for both crew and electronics, but again, small footprint for FCU.

    The rest? Heave it over the side…

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Lou and Ken,

    I think the point being gotten at is that a speed requirement of 50 knots caused some severe compromise of other fundamental requirements. What is it that 50 knots gives you in confined waters that 35 knots doesn’t? (Yes, I know. Fifteen knots. Had to take off a shoe, but I got it.) Would a 35 knot capability have dictated less of the lightweight material? More weight and “payload” (I hate that word. Weapon system!!) potential? Likely it would. And the “revolutionary” hull design required might have been more straightforward and less costly.

    The ideas expressed by ADM Hamilton regarding speed and sensors to get a warship out of the wrong place is dangerously naive and more than a little silly. The enemy understands how to defeat sensors. Anyone who has walked a patrol in Helmand or Fallujah will tell you that. I can’t help but wonder if senior Officers knew better, but were required to nod appropriately, or all took a big hit from the same hash pipe.

    The question I would ask over and over until thrown out of the room is:

    “How is it again that you are building a warship to fight in the littoral, among the most dangerous places to be, to Level I, with a small crew and insufficient protection?”

    The 5″ guns of the Fletchers or Gearings are not what is being asked for. (Though a 76mm would be nice, along with the 57mm.) Both designs suffered from tophamper weight issues, by the way. But a vessel that can take a punch and give back is always a solid premise to start from in warship design.

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDRSalamander

    URR,
    Going back to Hamilton’s comments is critical to understanding why we find ourselves where we are now.

    It is the only way to make sense of it all.

  • Old Air Force Sarge

    This ship has bothered me since day one. After reading all of the above it bothers me even more. Bottom line: I’ve got three kids in the Navy and I would not want them anywhere near this experiment in how to get sailors killed.

  • Chap

    Lou’s history vignettes don’t seem to me to be problem sets the LCS was touted to solve. I’m thinking more along the line of Hezbollah’s C902 shots against the Israeli ship, or the Gulf mine strike. You know, where the Mk1 mod0 eyeball of some dude on the shore, or a contact mine, completely negates that ‘stealth’ people keep touting and ‘speed’ doesn’t seem to be of that much use aside from minimizing time in a contested area by running in and out.

    I’ve just spent some time visiting in-service PGGs. Those ships pack some punch in a very small space. Nowadays a helo pad would be good, but show me something anywhere near that size in our fleet, eh? You want to engage with African navies using a cruiser?

  • WTH

    In terms of evolution, what happen if the speed requirement is modified and we (d)evolve LCS to a new requirement of 35kts? Thanks URR.

    I’m partial to LCS-2 as a superior design solution to the speed requirement so lets keep the discussion there. Rumor has it that she has touched 35 kts on diesels only. What can you do with the trimaran hullform if you go to 35 kts?

    My off the cuff thought is that you could drop the GTs and associated engineering complexity to gain space and weight margins. What to do with those margins:
    – Increase fuel to increase endurance (if even needed)
    – Increase composite ballistic protection (coupled with the inherent added survivability of the multi-hull layout you can come up with some pretty good passive survivability I’d wager)
    – Increase redundancy
    – Increase compartmentalization
    – Increase crew (with associated stores/quarters increase)
    – Increase organic weapon loadout
    The list goes on, and yes you can’t get everything, but I’m not writing LCS off as DOA yet. A useful ship may yet come out of this.

    I don’t like the LCS-1 concept; I think it is inherently compromised. For LCS-2 I don’t see any inherent compromise, so before we crush the program it would be wise to study what can be salvaged in a (d)evolution.

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

    There is an assumption being treated as a fundamental fact, entirely contrary to the data. Indeed, the assumption comes with no supporting data whatsoever. It is widely believed, obviously assumed, that the designs for both hulls are somehow inherently inflexible. All data suggests this is a bad assumption.

    Not only did both hulls have to be redesigned on the fly to incorporate NVR after initial designs were accepted as commercial standard, but the redesign had to happen after construction had begun. Both Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics claim the design is very flexible for adjustment, indeed that was a specific detail in the program from the very beginning as both designs were expected to be compete for international customers with a variety of options available. We have all seen the LCS-I version, heard of the Saudi LCS version proposal, and have even seen the brochures for multi-mission versions of both hulls. The Navy has consistently stated the ship design is very flexible. These ships were built specifically with growth capacity in mind.

    But the opposite is the default assumption. Where is the supporting data that suggests that both of these ships are inflexible in supporting design changes? What compelling evidence invalidates all the evidence otherwise?

    Assumptions by outsiders regarding speed and weight alone accounts for the entire supporting evidence that the LCS cannot be evolved over time. Those assumptions do not represent a compelling argument that either ship is somehow flawed beyond repair, particularly when we already know the ships can be redesigned to meet different requirements. NVR already proved it.

    Opinions of the LCS have been bounced around the echo chamber for so long that data that doesn’t support these opinions is completely ignored.

  • Chap

    @Galrahn: Let’s put out the data you ask for similar to this data, then. The hulls are built; let’s see the numbers. As I understand it the LCS-I rejected by the Israelis and the SCS mulled by others are essentially non-hybrid sailor, fixed module variants, somewhat different from LCS. Still–that’s a lot of line shaft bearings.

    @WTH et al: I think adapting the existing hulls of LCS may be a false dichotomy. There are other hull forms, some extant, to consider.

  • Bill

    G. opined: “Assumptions by outsiders regarding speed and weight alone accounts for the entire supporting evidence that the LCS cannot be evolved over time. Those assumptions do not represent a compelling argument that either ship is somehow flawed beyond repair, particularly when we already know the ships can be redesigned to meet different requirements. NVR already proved it.”

    I am not an outsider with respect to either LCS protptype as far as having a detailed working understanding of the hulls and propulsion machinery and I have commented in the past on how “weight kills performance” so I will not repeat that again hre and now.

    But simply put, the overweight condition of LCS-1 is a major issue and a serious flaw in the current prototpye. Over 50 high-speed vessel build/commission evolutions under this ‘outsider’s’ belt and I’ve yet to see a design recovered from that flaw. Seriously.

    How far can and should the Navy (and any other potential end users) go to reduce weight, increase power and waterjet diameter, reduce objective speed requirements, tweak hull lines, etc etc before, instead, abandoning the design? And I have not even touched on what would have to happen to permanently support an increase in the displacement above what it is now to rectify other deficiences (real or wished for) in organic kit and equipment.

    I have also noted in past posts that the LCS-2 hullform is inherently more forgiving of weight growth, at least from the standpoint of speed degradation and jet loading; not to mention being (reportedly) so much closer to its original design weight target to start with.

  • Chap

    Bill–what you’re saying is what I’m hearing from several folks who should know; I don’t have the data myself. I would note that over the life of a surface ship class the ships tend to get heavier and specifically more top heavy and if I were designing a first-of-class I’d try to err on the side of accommodating that future growth.

  • Bill

    @Chap: I was sneaking up on that factor with my remark about the difficulties inherent in increasing the capacity of an already overweight vessel. Revist Cyclones, USCG WSES and many foreign advanced ship and craft to see that amply illustrated. Few navies (or commercial operators, for that matter) have the..what I would call ‘discipline’ to mange the life cycle of advanced ship types; said management requireing a rigorous control and prevention of any weight growth at all. Not a popular concept for your average ship, is it?

    The successful Norwegian navy design/build of advanced ship types are an exception that few can – or even want to -duplicate. The service life growth allowance for the ‘Skjold’ class 60-knot MTBs is offically ‘zero’..but in practical terms as much as 7%. 7 percent.. *chuckle* heck, ..the LCS-1 total weight grew 40% during the contract design cycle alone..then add in what various folks think is currently ‘missing’..and…

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

    Bill,

    Isn’t that the point though? Speed adds considerable pressure to design parameters, particularly weight. If the speed requirement gets lifted, the design becomes more flexible for meeting requirements.

    Your comments over time haven’t been ignored, they are why I see speed as the big question mark of the entire program.

  • Bill

    G. We are converging in a roundabout way on similar conclusions. I apprach the design of anything like the LCS with a determined focus on the objective sped requirements and a knowledge of how to meet those requirements. You and others are approaching it differently; why the speed requirement in the first place?

    But you probably understand why, as the designer of such vessels by trade, I do not ask that question. I assume those who have commissioned my services to design a fast ship or craft knew well why they needed the speed. I always read with great interest the posts that you and many others put forth that challenge those assumptions and requirements.

    In the parallel world of fast ferries, something roughly similar occured..but occured due to natural forces. During the heady days of the 80s and early 90s, it was all about how fast any ferry could be designed to go. Economic and operational reality bit hard for most operators and the building boom was over a little over a decade after it began. But I’m not sure that represents an analogy either..since naval requirements are driven by different factors entirely..right?

  • Scott B.

    Galrahn said : “Know your history, Pensacola and Salt Lake City didn’t have enough armor or firepower to compete;”

    Below are the broadside weight for the first cruisers designed to the limits set by the WNT :

    1. Pensacola (US, 1st of class launched 1929) : 2,600 lb
    2. Myoko (Japan, 1st of class launched 1927) : 2,425 lb
    3. Duquesne (France, 1st of class launched 1925) : 2,360 lb
    4. Trento (Italy, 1st of class launched 1926) : 2,210 lb
    5. County (UK, 1st of class launched 1926) : 2,048 lb

    The Myokos were later upgraded with more powerful guns (3rd year Type 2 replacing 3rd year Type 1), giving them a broadside weight of 2,774 lb.

  • Scott B.

    Chap said : “I would note that over the life of a surface ship class the ships tend to get heavier and specifically more top heavy and if I were designing a first-of-class I’d try to err on the side of accommodating that future growth.”

    The defunct DK Brown, in his Future British Surface Fleet, provides some interesting insights on ship’s growth over service life (pp. 106-108).

    He noted that experience shows that growth in service is about 0.5 percent of the displacement per year, meaning about 15 percent of the displacement over a service life of 30 years.

    LCS-1 was completed 190 tons overweight, i.e. over 6% of her target full load displacement.

    Leaving aside the consequences of such overweight on survivability, what that means is that the LCS-1 probably doesn’t have any growth margins at all.

  • Bill

    “LCS-1 was completed 190 tons overweight, i.e. over 6% of her target full load displacement.”

    No..it most certainly was not. IF it was ‘only’ that much overweight, most of this discussion would not be happening.

    2225 metric tons full load and 1550 operational light ship..that is the original LCS-1 baseline on which everything related to speed was based and is what the modified Destriero hullform would probably have supported very well, given DLB’s superb track record. That is certainly not where it is and is one heck of a lot more than 190 tons less than where it is.

    You simply cannot do that to a semi-planing ship. And how on earth do you fix it?

  • Byron

    But it’s got all that space in the missions bay!!!! Big empty space!!!!

  • Scott B.

    Bill said : “You simply cannot do that to a semi-planing ship. And how on earth do you fix it?”

    You cannot.

  • Scott B.

    Ken Adams said : “Sounds to me like LCS may actually be small for the capability she can deliver.”

    The reason why the 400 tons may look *good* (assuming 400 tons is the correct figure) for a 3,000+ tons (war)ship is largely due to the very austere weapons & sensors suite of the LCS seaframe.

    Once you factor something decent in terms of organic weapons & sensors, the big picture is different.

    For instance, here are the payloads for the 2,000-ton small combatant described in the 2004 NATO SLC study :

    Electronics : 88 tons
    Weapons : 75 tons
    Aviation (incl. JP-5) : 73 tons
    Ammunitions : 68 tons
    Fuel : 230 tons

    TOTAL : 534 tons

    Full load displacement : 2,466 tons

    Of course, the 2,000-ton SLC was supposed to have a trial speed of *only* 32 knots, meaning a propulsive power of 35,500 kW.

    Contrast that with 45+ knots and 84,800 kW, and you’ll understand where the difference in payload might come from.

    Bottom line : there’s no free lunch !!!

  • http://smadanek.blogspot.com Ken Adams, Amphib Sailor

    Bill, you and Scott B. are obviously working from different baselines. Does your baseline predate the change from aluminum to steel hull? Scott, are you talking about growth after final design, or from AWE? And are there any sources of this data available in the public domain?

  • Scott B.

    Bill said : “No..it most certainly was not. IF it was ‘only’ that much overweight, most of this discussion would not be happening.”

    You’re right, the LCS-1 design experienced some frantic growth in displacement over the years.

    For instance, in a brief he made back in August 2004, RDML Ray Spicer stated a full load displacement of 2,839 tons for LCS-1.

    In a January 2009 article, CAPT Jim Murdoch (LCS program manager) declared :

    “At full load we want to be at roughly 3,140 tons displacement with fuel and the mission package on board,”

    The 190 tons overweight comes on top of the 3,140 tons, meaning a *hypothetical* full load displacement of 3,330 tons for LCS-1 as it currently stands.

    At some point, they went through the roof displacement-wise with LCS-1, and just decided that they could do even better and started to aim at the moon !!!

    Bottom line is a design that will most likely end up at the bottom whenever something not-that-big hits the fan !!!

  • Scott B.

    Ken Adams said : “And are there any sources of this data available in the public domain?”

    There’s a link for the January 2009 article from Defense News in the previous.

    RDML(S) Ray Spicer (Deputy of Surface Ships) made his aforementioned brief at the Surface Navy Association Luncheon on 10 August 2004. This presentation is unclassified, but I’m not sure where you can find a copy of it.

  • Scott B.

    Galrahn said : “Absent the speed requirement, would there be significant cost reductions in LCS construction?”

    Let’s clarify once thing once for all : the requirement for high sprint speed is sort of *genetically* inscribed in the LCS-1 design.

    In other words, derating this requirement for the LCS-1 design won’t produce significant cost reductions.

    The real question is whether a (war)ship that will occasionally make 45 knots or so and structurally suffer numerous operational limitations is worth the current $700+ million.

    Seeing how the LCS proponents have failed to produce any meaningful justification for the high sprint speed requirement, whereas the analytical framework has been in place since the 1970s, I don’t see how the answer to THE question could even be the shy *maybe* we’ve been offered for some time now.

  • Scott B.

    Galrahn said : “Show me where a 3000 ton ship is going to be mission capable after taking a direct hit from a modern weapon system.”

    You’re confusing two distinct notions : the ability to survive damage on the one hand, and the ability to fight hurt on the other hand.

    A design that doesn’t meet Navy stability requirements for the damaged ship condition (which is what the inclined experiment performed during acceptance trials of LCS-1 apparently show) is more likely to capsize when damaged.

    Whether a design that may be less prone to capsizing (i.e. a design that meets Navy stability requirements) will be able to remain battleworthy after sustaining combat damage is an entirely different subject.

  • Scott B.

    URR said : “The 23mm cannon, 14.5 and 12.7mm HMGs, RPGs, mortars, etc., are many decades old, some dating back to WWII. They are plentiful, and widely and effectively employed worldwide. Those weapons, ones we are certain to see, will chop up such a fragile design.”

    One of the sensitivity analysis presented in the 2004 NATO SLC study is about how much it would cost (in terms of displacement and $$$) to include a *comprehensive ballistic protection* in the 2,000-ton surface combatant design.

    The so-called *comprehensive ballistic protection* was meant to address the threats you’ve listed, i.e. :

    1) 23mm armor piercing rounds fired at a stand-off range of 500m and impacting at an obliquity angle of 90 degrees.

    2) Reinforcing transverse W.T. bulkheads to withstand a 250kg high-explosive warhead at a standoff range of 5 meters.

    3) Protection of topside magazines against penetration by RPG-7 type shaped charge warheads.

    4) Provision of port and starboard longitudinal protective trunks for vital fore-and-aft distributed systems.

    The impacts of adding this protection were a 7.9% increase in light ship displacement (2,120 tons vs 1,965 tons for the baseline) and a 7.8% increase in normalized acquisition cost.

    At this stage, you could ask a couple of question :

    1) How can you add 155 tons of ballistic protection in a design that is already 190 tons overweight ? (without further compromising stability requirements for the damaged condition that is).

    2) Where is the additional funding for this kind of *comprehensive ballistic protection*, i.e. about $3 billion for 55 (war)ships, going to come from ?

  • Byron

    Seems like a pretty thorough answer, Galrahn.

    And of course, we never did get to that pesky manned DC section did we…

  • Bill

    @Ken “Bill, you and Scott B. are obviously working from different baselines. Does your baseline predate the change from aluminum to steel hull?”

    No indeed. Those are the contractual baseline numbers at time of the award for detailed design and construction. Everything was set in stone at that point..supposedly.

    A Scandinavian smack-down for US builders and their Navy oversight:

    1993 Skjold Concept design FLD: 260 metric tons

    1995 Skjold Contract Design Baseline FLD: 260 metric tons

    1997 Detailed Design and Construction FLD: 260 metric tons

    1999 Skjold Prototype Trial Condition FLD: 260 mt

    2005 Skjold Series Production FLD: 260 mt

    THAT is how a succesful advanced high-speed naval ship program progresses. Just saying…

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDR Salamander

    Chap and Bill speak with Big Medicine.

    Scott B. uses big slide-rule.

  • Bill

    A caveat about the early 2004 numbers..ABS HSNC rules are called out and strengthened in many areas by superseding MIL specs for shock, vibration, EMC and other environmental factors. The impact of the ABS NVR, when later injected is oft argued, especially with regard to cost imact, but I’ve seen no real numbers on how big the impact really was on weight. I’m skeptical that invoking the NVR was the real driver for all that weight growth.

    That said, the ABS HSNC rules as augmented by the various MIL callouts resulted in a package of requirements that, to me, seemed prety much in line with what we built other naval platforms to..like the Skjold, for example. Of course there we were building to DnV and STANAG…but the similarities between those and ABS are hardly accidental.

  • Scott B.

    Bill said : “A Scandinavian smack-down for US builders and their Navy oversight:”

    To inject some more infos on the Norwegian Skjolds :

    Light Ship : 200 tons

    Fuel / Fluids : 35-40 tons

    Payload : 30-35 tons

    Fully Loaded : 270 tons

    Operated during OPEVAL at 300 tons in all range of sea states.

  • Bill

    @Scott: Where did that OPEVAL displacement number of 300 tons come from? At the time she carried a lot of ballast (mostly sand bags I believe..and I helped carry ‘em on board. I was younger then ;-)) to match the weight of missing wepaons systems (gun and missiles) but that was only to bring her up to design FLD. As the design lead, I’m really scratching my head trying figure out how one could even stuff another 40 tons on the craft..where, how and ..what for?

    Sorry for LCS thread digression.

  • Scott B.

    Bill said : “Where did that OPEVAL displacement number of 300 tons come from?”

    See this presentation, last sentence at the bottom page 9.

  • sid

    Isn’t that the point though? Speed adds considerable pressure to design parameters, particularly weight. If the speed requirement gets lifted, the design becomes more flexible for meeting requirements.

    Then there is no point in sticking with the two hull designs, which make sense ONLY because of they are optimized for the very high speed.

    And this is why your Pensacola analogy is completely vaporous…Malodorous in fact.

    Where are the follow on improved designs?

    Oh.

    There are none.

  • sid

    Sid, you are right, the Fletchers were amazingly tough and packed a hell of a punch with 5x 5-inch guns. I’d love to have a few hundred back in the fleet. I wonder what it would cost to dust off the prints and build them today.

    No need for 70 year old designs into today’s fleet Ken. Nobody is seriously suggesting it needs to happen.

    Point is that that ships -at 2100 tons and 36 knots- were built with multiple redundancies that enabled them to carry on the fight.

    This won’t happen on the already overweight, but too lightly built anyway, LCS’s of today.

    No room and no money after paying for all that needless speed.

    Adding in, of course:
    – those pesky habitability requirements
    – collective CBR protection
    – CHT systems
    – plastic disposal and storage rooms
    – carbon footprint reduction for those nasty black-oil boilers
    – diversity training spaces
    – etc. ad nauseam.

    Well, from a navy that describes their WARships (glad to see that you are no longer trying to claim they are anything but G) as “nice rides”, the relative priorities are telling.

    But going back to the Fletcher analogy for a minute. Those items might have cost a main gun mount or two…And lets not forget that those ships were 1000 tons lighter than today’s LCS’s.

    Indeed, those ships did lose main mounts and torpedo tubes as they gained girth over their lives.

    The LCSs have yet to be fitted with their main battery and they already have weight problems.

    So much for that vaunted “flexibility”.

  • Scott B.

    Re: no CBR protection on LCS-3 ?

    Below are comments made by RhodeIslander over at Information Dissemination last week.

    Any more infos on the subject out there ?

    —————————————————————–
    NAVSEA/PMS500 are still making errors:

    LCS-3 is presently being built at the Italian shipyard up in North Wisconsin. Will this “warship” be able to operate near terrorists who might shoot at them with a rocket containing Chem or Bio agents ? NAVSEA / PMS-500 has decided to omit not one, but BOTH of the DECON stations designed into this class. Also, LCS-3 won’t have to be built with the pressurized air citadel CPS protection system. Gee whiz, even the US Coast Guard is constructing their large new cutters with these features ! So, perhaps our country will send the new 98% steel cutters to protect the 40% aluminum LCS-1 class whenever they operate near cowards and terrorists ?
    RhodeIslander | 09.04.09 – 6:07 pm |

    —————————————————————–
    LCS-1 Tours:

    I’ve had several, both inport and during test team inspections. Tour guides readily show you how LCS-1 was designed for 2 DECON STATIONS. One aft accessed thru area in the fwd part of the helo hanger, and one station forward accessed from the forecastle. To save weight, the forward DECON was converted into a Paint storage locker, etc. and some handrails were added so that crew members contaminated while working near the bow, would simply climb up the sloped superstructure, crawl across the top of the ship past many antennas, decend a few vertical ladders, and then enter the helo hanger, proceed forward past the helo’s and enter the aft DECON station. As for the pressurized CPS citadel, LCS-1 does, indeed, have it installed, and it is adjusted and working well. I guess LCS-3 (and beyond ?) just won’t need these warship features that are being installed onboard the new large USCG Cutters.
    RhodeIslander | 09.05.09 – 12:34 am |

    —————————————————————–

  • sid

    Lou Coatney:
    Speed is a primary need in any kind of combat operation, and what LCSs end up doing most effectively may only be realized once the curtain opens – God forbid.

    In all the historical examples you cite, no ships flitting about at 50 knots.

    In fact, if you go back and look Lou, you will find that the speeds rarely reached into the 30’s.

    As brought up in the article, the speed differential between a 35 knot ship, and a 50 knot one will mean very little in tewrms of tactical advantage.

    Certainly it is not worth all the costs.

    Don’t have time to find it now, as its not online, but the Proceedings ran an article a few years ago which illustrated that high design speed is very rarely needed or used historically.

    Of course, the LCS was all about ignoring history from the very beginning.

    It was to be Transformational….

  • sid

    Of course, another survivability question is whether armor or flotation is more important – and how they interface with speed.

    And Survivability -in this context “Vulnerability Reduction” and “Recoverability”- is NOT synonymous with tons of armor.

    Its about compartmentalization, redundancy and separation of critical components such as electrical and interior communication systems, sufficient crew aboard to absorb losses and repair damage, and rational tactical and operational doctrine…

  • Byron

    No one has talked about how the “modules” (or as I call it, Lego-shipbuilding blocks) will interact with the weight and stability issues. I heard the NLOS launcher will mount on top of the deckhouse…above the metacenter, and aft of it. I know that there are several different foundations for Firescout, several of which go on top of the superstructure, and not including the bits and pieces which have to be as high as possible (no, I ain’t saying). Without all these “bits and pieces”, you aren’t going to fly Firescout.

  • sid

    Assumptions by outsiders regarding speed and weight alone accounts for the entire supporting evidence that the LCS cannot be evolved over time.

    Galrahn, perhaps if you had spent some more time going to sea and actually around ships, it would be immediately obvious to you as well.

    It doesn’t take any “inside” knowledge to see this.

    Once you come off the speed requirement, then there is no need for the two exotic hull designs built -as Hamilton put it- with “alternative and lighter materials.”

    Thats where you will find the savings…And increased combat effectiveness.

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

    Interesting discussion…here’s a thought for you.

    When LCS-1 came out, there was tons of media coverage on how it performed, etc. I’ve heard nothing about LCS-2 since it’s first U/W and return to port for broken things. I wonder why….

    and I’m tired of seeing this..
    “The DDG-1000 was truncated for reasons of costs, likely in part due to the stealth design requirement in particular which increased the cost of existing large surface combatants by around 25%, because stealth required a much larger hull.”

    Nowhere has the Navy stated the program was truncated for costs. It was truncated for lack of need in light of emerging threats.

  • Bill

    “When LCS-1 came out, there was tons of media coverage on how it performed, etc. I’ve heard nothing about LCS-2 since it’s first U/W and return to port for broken things. I wonder why….”

    Springboard posted exactly that question recently on his blog in an “Open Letter to Austal”. Not sure if they ever got back to him on that. ;-)

  • Byron

    You know, I bet there’s a long list of names at the various NG and LM yards that say, “shoot on sight!”.

    I only hope my name is near the top…

  • Bill

    Mine will be right below yours, I’m sure. I have no sympathy and only disdain for those that create or enable failures like this. Every such failure is later pointed to by skeptics (within Navy and outside) as a reason why advanced ship concepts ‘don’t work’, should not be considered, and that designers of them (like me) are only quacks at worst, blind platform advocates at best, to be best ignored. And then there is the ‘got some on me’ factor that makes those on the Navy procurement and technical management side reluctant to touch anything ever again that even looks like a risky build…and remain reluctant until they retire. The damage created by a failed or botched program is far more extensive and endemic than some folks realize..espeically, it seems to me, when it comes to advanced ship types.

    It took FOREVER to ‘flush’ the effects of the Cardinal MSH debacle out of the system, as just one of those historical examples I could point to. And it should not have ever happened that way. But here we go again.

  • sid

    Galrahn:
    We have all seen the LCS-I version, heard of the Saudi LCS version proposal, and have even seen the brochures for multi-mission versions of both hulls. The Navy has consistently stated the ship design is very flexible.

    All we have “seen” are some fanciful artists’ renderings and cool table models.

    So much for “inside” information….

  • http://xbradtc.wordpress.com XBradTC

    If you took away the 50kt requirement, you’d dump BOTH hull forms and go with a fairly conventional hull. You’d also end up with a different engineering plant as well. And for damn sure, it would be a smaller platform to mount the same systems. And it would almost certainly cost a lot less. And you’d be able to use more conventional construction techniques and materials.

    In fact, I’d like to see what a 35kt ship with the same combat systems would look like. I could almost get behind an LCS program like that.

  • Michael

    Semi-random questions in my head:

    What could LCSs do for special forces insertion and extraction that the assortment of boats and submarines they already have at their disposal (Virginia class comes to mind) cannot?

    To what extent can the hulls already in the water be modified for lower speed and higher survivability? Beyond that, would it be cheaper over the long run to replace them now or to hand them over to volunteer crews and pray?

    How on earth can there be a “tradition” of naming LCSs after cities when half of them are named after concepts?!

  • Byron

    They’re not named after concepts, they’re named after talking points and brand names…least ways, that’s the way the fine people in the five sided wind tunnel think.

    And when I say, “fine people”, I don’t really mean it, I’m just being polite.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    But Byron, they ARE fine people. That is the damnable, head-scratching mystery to it all.

    What in the wide world of sports would otherwise make someone like Admiral Hamilton, an obviously distinguished Naval Officer who cannot be lacking in knowledge or intelligence, utter the following:

    “And what we’ve chosen to do here is couple high speed and maneuverability and situational awareness in ways that allow LCS to be in the right place at the right time and to be out of the right place at the wrong time. Okay?”

    No, Admiral. Not “okay”. In fact, such a concept does not even pass the rudimentary smell test. As I said above, it is foolishly naive, dangerous, and silly. How a Flag Officer could think such a concept could not be quickly and easily defeated by an adaptive enemy is beyond me. Was he told to believe and uttered “three bags full” while saluting smartly? Or does he somehow really believe that?

  • Byron

    I said, “fine people”, and and I meant it.

  • sid

    URR, Hamilton got canned some years back…The current head of NAVSEA -Landay- was in that interview as well (or the now removed piece made it look that way on the NAVSEA website).

    Beyond that, would it be cheaper over the long run to replace them now or to hand them over to volunteer crews and pray?

    This is where Galrahn’s Pensacola analogy fall in the ditch.

    First off the design elements of the heavy cruisers were part of a carefully considered, integrated fleet plan.

    The LCS, as Ronald O’Rourke pointed out, was the product of an ‘analytical virgin birth.’

    Now, “insiders” can dissemble all they want, but the fact of the matter is, the LCS and its ballyhooed speed were never considered in the same context as the CA’s were in the early 1920’s.

    Now, the looming burdens of that silly speed “requirement” are becoming obvious.

    Without it, the hull types make no sense. You don’t need a semi-planing hull, or the world’s biggest aluminum ship to go 36 knots.

  • Cap’n Bill

    If this group of reeasonable and generally sympathetic experts can’t/won’t advcance a way out for USN—even one on the edges of being reasonable— the situation is more dire than I had thought. So far I have not detected even a scant suggestion of what might be done about this obviously failed major program. Think for a moment about how “lost” the staffs of Big Navy must be as they try to reconcile the financial facts of life with the emerging clear operational facts of life of the LCS.
    Surface Navy has screwed itself bigtime.

    Woe is me.

  • Byron

    Kill LCS. Use money for ONE new build to fund SLEP for selected FFGs to keep the numbers up, and more importantly, keep sailors trained for the future fleet.

    Then tell the big mil-corp yards thanks but no thanks, we’re going to license-build a Euro-frigate of some sort, meld the technology that’s useable from the LCS and get a real warship to sea in -5 years. It’s doable, if you keep the meddling fingers wanting to design an elephant by committee in the dark and under a blanket.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    Balzan, anyone?

  • Bill

    From Sid: “Without it, the hull types make no sense. You don’t need a semi-planing hull, or the world’s biggest aluminum ship to go 36 knots.”

    ….as clearly evidenced in Fincantieri’s portfolio of 35-40 knot monohull designs, which they can and do routinely ‘adapt’ for ferry, yacht and naval platforms. Some are significantly larger than the current LCS. Its really not that haaaard….

    But…there is still the Navy’s discipline issue to deal with; the self-restraint required to avoid piling on any new ship design that does not have unlimited weight growth potential.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    Beg pardon, Bazan class, or Nansen class, or Australian AAW destroyer.

  • leesea

    Byron I know that the big corporate overseers of US shipyards continualy prevent designs from outside their portfolios being introduced into the subjugate shipyards. That plus the totally ignorant congressional types who ONLY want US work in US yards in their backyards WILL forever stifle innovation at major US shipyards. It was interesting to see that Marinette Marine now owned by Fincantieri split from their overeer LM. Hopefully something good will come from the new arrangement unlike what their LCS is?

    Go read many of Tim Colton’s comments and more importantly look at his shipbuilding contracts database and you will see the decline is inevitable.

    Another factor is the screwed up acquistion plans. LCS is the worst case example. Why not demand that NDI and COTS rules apply to a new and/or foreign ship design being introduced by a US shipyard? Or is NAVSEA and the Pentagon too beholding to the big corporate overseers?

  • sid

    Or is NAVSEA and the Pentagon too beholding to the big corporate overseers?

    Anyone who signs their name to an acquisition document which puts taxpayer $$$$ towards these last few standing entities should be barred from working for them for -say- a five year period.

    Whats the retired pay for O-7 and up these days?

  • Chuck

    I would agree with “SLEP the Figs” and I’d buy the T-shirt, but what’s this from the Navy about their hulls all being like tissue paper from the rust and they’re decrepit and blah blah blah?

    Byron, are they decrepit in your experience?

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