It has been an interesting few weeks for the LCS program. In mid-month we had Chris Cavas’ one-two punch laying bare the critics warnings coming to fruition on the cattywampus mission module concept, weaponeering shortfalls, and most critically – an unexecutable manning CONOPS.

Especially in a time of budget stress, a weak program that has gone awhile without good news gets plenty of attention.

Throw in to the mix an interesting whispering campaign and …. what is that? Blood in the water?

Makes this little paragraph from the N9 CNO UPDATE FOR 14 JULY TO 27 JULY 2012 have a bit more nuance:

LCS: OPNAV has received several requests for materials and/or briefs in relation to the LCS program, which we have coordinated with VCNO, OLA, FFC, and FMBE. Requests pertain to:
1) VCNO directed Review of the Navy’s Readiness to Receive, Employ and Deploy the LCS Class Vessel
2) CFFC War Games #1 and #2
3) Ongoing Fleet assessments and operational experiences for both LCS ships in service.

Specifically:
- SASC has requested a copy of and a brief on the OPNAV LCS Review, and the outcome of CFFC War Games. N96 SASC brief is scheduled for 27 Jul.
- HASC made similar requests, N96 HASC brief is scheduled for 31 Jul.
- SAC (D), CBO and CRS made similar requests, briefs TBD in mid-Aug.

In many ways, sadly, the LCS argument gets Groundhog Day-ish. I’m reminded of a quote from a post at my homeblog over six years ago from Carl Carlson’s LCS Characteristics Task Force Final Report from 2002 – a solid decade ago.

We recognize that LCS is a fast moving train and that some decisions may already have been made on some of the issues considered in this report. However, given the high stakes involved for those who will serve on LCS ships and for the Navy’s effectiveness in future conflicts, we hope the careful analysis of the broad and diverse expertise of the study participants who informed these findings and recommendations will receive due consideration in deciding the future direction of LCS development.

Yes, we continue to hope.




Posted by CDRSalamander in Uncategorized


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  • Adversus Omnes Dissident

    Hope and Change…….didn’t work out for this past presidential administration, hasn’t worked for our shipbuilding.

    You can always judge the merits of a new shipbuilding program by how many times the narrative / i.e. company line changes. For LCS and DDG 1000, we have seen many paradigm shifts in the narrative.

    Time to cut our losses. We have nothing to gain in credibility nor combat capability by prolonging this agony. Given the importance of mine warfare, it is also essential for us to get serious about designing a MCM(X).

  • Mike M.

    Probably not a complete cancellation, but curtailment of the purchase to those ships on order. Possibly some of those go as well.

    LCS isn’t useless, but it seems more suited to SOUTHCOM or AFRICOM than the commands likely to see heavy fighting. I suspect they will wind up doing good service in low-threat regions.

  • James

    The LCS is a piece of crap. The LCS is useless. It cannot be effectively manned to perform basic PMS. It cannot swap out “mission modules” quickly – weeks instead of days. They are having to use the mission modules to berth the extra crew members and contractors to keep the ship functional, so really, forget about how quickly you can swap modules. Oh and forget about the modules, because most of them don’t exist or haven’t been built in sufficient numbers, let alone telegraphing to the enemy what you are doing.

    The German tried a dynamic ship twenty years ago and that didn’t work for them.

    And no way will you convince me that a dynamic jack of all trades ship using some mission module will server better than a mine sweeper. We should have continued the ffg program that the Ozzies are using right now – way more effective.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    So Mike….

    The Littoral “I sure hope we never see combat” Ship? LISHWNSCS? Pronounces “li-schwin-sus” I like it.

  • ewok40k

    It can be done simpler: Littoral Unusually Combat-Avoiding Ship (LUCAS):P

  • John Patch

    In July, I recommended OPNAV consider making the modules permanent to each hull to avoid many of the problems. Alternatively, a six-ship buy and then shifting to NSC would seem prudent, considering they cost about as much as LCS (plus modules).

    See http://armedforcesjournal.com/2012/07/10395886

    john patch

  • http://tobeortodo.com J. Scott Shipman

    I believe it was retired RADM John Butler, speaking at a San Diego Undersea Warfare event many years ago said something close to: “Just because you can put it on a slide, doesn’t mean the physics will cooperate.”

    LCS has been a program of pixie dust and wishful “thinking.” Folks of good intention continue to promote, but we know about the “road to hell” and intentions—clearly, this program is headed in that direction and has been from the start. I heard Mexico is searching for a frigate…who knows.

    As one commenter mentioned above, we need strengthen our mine warfare capabilities, and do so in a way that respects physics and the realities of warship design. Funny thing about physics: can’t be fooled by PowerPoint.

  • The Usual Suspect

    The old adages about not throwing good money after bad and putting lipstick on pigs applies to LCS. These are sunken costs and should be treated as such. Cancel the program and scrap those that are under construction…you could also scrap those that are welded to the pier. Reduce by two ranks and retire out everybody that is left that had anything to do with promoting this Belknapesque folly. Retroactively demote Mullen and Roughead and reduce their retirements accordingly – or just in the amount of taxpayer money thrown away. How about some accountability? This is an example of a bad idea with legs and people without the moral courage to stand up and call it for what it is. I think that Admiral Butler’s comment about PPT applies very nicely in this case.

  • Mike M.

    The problem with cancelling and scrapping is that you wind up with nothing whatsoever. Admit the program is a failure, yes. Hunt down and discipline those REALLY responsible (as opposed to the poor schmucks who are left holding the bag), absolutely. But let’s remember that there are natural cut lines, and try to get something for the hapless taxpayer’s money.

  • Marc Apter

    Another Program designed by PPT, just like NMCI. Obviously, no one remembered the FFG-7 Manning issues, ask the first two sets of Wardroom Officers what happened when someone had to go to school or go on leave. Even the old style manned DEG-1 had trained manpower issues after the Plank Owners left. History in the Navy is now something to be ignored, not studied.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    The link to the report is broken. Here’s one that works:

    http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA433152

    A quick skim indicates to me that the committee was in favor of multiple variants of LCS, and the ones that are being delivered look an awful lot like Type C. That was also the most favored option as well.

    I may have more to say after a closer examination of the report, but I’m not sure it supports the headline of the post.

  • leesea

    @MikeM: in program management terms its called Truncation. In contracting terms the method is called “Termination for Convience”.
    In EITHER case, that is a very big deal which I see NO ONE at the upper levels saying they will do.

    Bob Work replied to me on ID with as much, and said that the Navy would NOT revisit the LCS top level rqmts.

    LCS is what the Navy wants for good or BAD~

  • hokie_1997

    The core problem is that the LCS seaframes are over-priced, short-legged, undermanned, and unsuitable for any threat exceeding a cabin cruiser full of tipsy Girl Scouts.

    But I actually think the mission module concept is sound. The capability to change out mission packages rapidly in-theatre is the height of idiocy. However, it makes sense to plug in an updated mission system every few years w/o redesigning the whole ship.

    At this point, even Congress can’t ignore what a complete cluster-frack that LCS has become. I just hope the Navy doesn’t throw out the ‘baby with the bathwater’ when LCS fails. Lose the seaframes, but preserve the concept of modularity.

  • leesea

    @BW why any navy would want a third version (call it LCS Next-Gen, or future or whatever~) is beyond me!

  • Nicky

    The only option left for the US Navy is to kill the LCS program. Then shift funding and program into the US Coast Guard’s National Security Cutter program to get a Patrol Frigate out of the US Coast Guard’s National Security cutter design.

    What the US Navy would have is a Patrol frigate that can do all the Low end, low intensity conflicts and all the traditional Frigate Roles & missions such as presence (Show the Flag), protect other warships, Protection of Shipping (POS), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Anti Surface Warfare (ASUW) combatants for amphibious expeditionary forces, underway replenishment groups and merchant convoys.

    The US Coast Guard’s National Security Cutter design is perfect to build a Patrol Frigate from and you would keep overall program cost down, but still have an LCS like ship with Sea legs and the ability to self protect and carry out all the traditional frigate roles & Missions.

  • Paul P

    “unsuitable for any threat exceeding a cabin cruiser full of tipsy Girl Scouts”

    That’s creative! However, I know some pretty tough Girl Scouts, sober or tipsy…

    What is the end cost of the program if they decided to cancel it tomorrow? Is there anything beyond the Zumwalt that’s in the pipeline or powerpoint that can put more hulls in the fleet?

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    Lee,

    I was merely pointing out my interpretation of the report that CDR S. attempted to link in the original post. That link is not working, so I provided a link to the report in my original reply.

    That said, I’m not even sure what the point of this post is since CDR S. surely understands that a termination for convenience is nearly impossible as you’ve so eloquently pointed out.

    In terms of a third version of LCS, I suppose it depends on what is meant by “version.” As you know, every ship (regardless of class) is a little bit different than its predecessors. Welcome to shipbuilding. It could be credibly argued that there already are three versions in the water since USS Fort Worth was stretched about fifteen feet to solve some damaged stability deficiencies on USS Freedom, improve range, improve cruising speed on diesels, and improve fuel efficiency.

    I would support an additional “version” that provided more commonality in HM&E distributed systems as well as a single combat system in the five and follow ships, but those are pretty big changes that will probably not be incorporated during in-line construction. If they are, they will come later in the production run. We’ll see, but I’m pretty sure that Secretary Work made the case for those types of efforts, and I’d support them.

    There is quite a bit of misinformed or perhaps intentionally deceptive information thrown out by quite a few people regarding LCS on the interwebs. I suppose that bad news sells magazines and click-throughs.

    There were certainly early problems early in the program, but that’s what happens when you don’t have stable requirements and you do things fast. It happened with T-AKE as you know, but fourteen ships into the production run NASSCO is delivering a very good product well ahead of schedule and well under budget. Such will be the same with LCS.

    Part of the negative commentary is driven by the early program difficulties as well as folks trying to compare LCS to something that it is not and never was intended to be.

    It is (as of right now) a capable swarm killer, will be a much more capable minefield neutralization ship (we should be intellectually honest enough to abandon the WWII era term minesweeper), and the littoral submarine hunting capability is showing some very positive trends. Are there reliability issues? Yes, but that’s why University of Michigan, Cornell, and MIT produce engineers.

    What’s that you say, there really are mission modules in developmental testing that seem to work despite that oft repeated claims to the contrary? Yes, in fact there are and it’s been reported right there in the open press. I guess some folks pick “facts” to suit the agenda or argument.

    Are there bugs that are being identified and re-design being done? Unsurprisingly, yes. That’s sort of the point of developmental testing (DT). Will there likely be more “negative” press about LCS in the coming years? Probably. As I said, bad news sells, and I believe the critics have far too much invested in ever admitting that the capability delivered by LCS will be an improvement to the fleet. It is what it is.

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDRSalamander

    BW – link fixed.

  • Sperrwaffe

    Well, it’s a program to subsidize US industry. And that will not be terminated. Too political. And that is normal procedure. And that’s the bottom line.

    Just one example:
    MCM-Modules? Most of the needed systems are out there on the market. Nothing needs to be invented. It’s there. Even Future MCM:

    Kongsberg has HUGIN and REMUS. That covers the AUV part.
    SAAB has the Double Eagle MKII and MKIII. SPVDS, in ROV and AUV Configuration. You can to disposal with it using Minesniper and Demolition Charges. Adds to the UUV business
    ATLAS has the SeaFox for disposal and ID.
    C3I Systems are there. Kongsberg, Thales (Tacticos), Saab (9LV), ATLAS (IMCMS)
    And furthermore, the vessels are there. If it is non-dedicated on a OPV like PV80 (Luerssen)
    http://www.luerssen-defence.com/de/marineschiffe/opvs/pv-80.php ,english version is currently not online but the pictures speak for itself)
    or the smaller dedicated vessels up to 60m. Take the Finnish Katanpää Class for GRP Reference which also incorporates all systems mentioned above (C3I IMCMS, HUGIN, Double Eagle etc.). Or the derivates of the German NM-Steel (MJ332, MJ333, HL 352, MHV 54) proven in a lot of countries (from Luerssen).

    But as I said above. Bottom line will never! permit a solution which does not come from the US.
    Just my two cents…

  • John

    Proponents keep telling us that the LCS is going to be a potent swarm killer, MCM superstar and kick-butt ASW vessel. Perhaps eventually there will be modules for each of those tasks, but are we honestly talking about one hull (transformationalized into “seaform”) being able to do all those things as equipped when they get underway on any give day, or is this assuming the option of calling a time out to run back to some friendly port to swap out one module for another?

    If they can only do one job at a time, then we are wasting an inexcusable amount of money for very little capability. Worse, we will be entering a gun fight armed only with knives because that is all we have. We desperately need true multi-mission ships.

    End this foolishness now, take the financial hit and get some frigate type ships that can do the jobs needed without the bogus speed requirement and other problems inherent in the imploding LCS fantasy.

  • The Usual Suspect

    @Mike M:
    The concept of sunken costs is that you cease throwing good money after bad. You have already incurred the current costs, but you will not incur any future costs. “What do you end up with?”, you ask. You end up with capital preserved to fund a different platform that actually might work.

    As far as Undersecretary Work is concerned, I find his ability to listen (active) vs hearing (inactive) is a major obstacle not easily overcome. He has marching orders and a script to follow issued by his superiors – he is not a man free to think for himself. I am sure that he learned all about naval architecture and shipbuilding during his career in the Marines and that is what makes him such a qualified expert on LCS.

    @Benjamin Walthrop:
    What is your dog in this fight? Mine is the life of my son and his shipmates? Yours sounds personal, too. I find it extremely difficult to believe that anybody can rationally support such a failure as LCS. It fails even at the basic levels of design and construction. It fails to perform as specified. It lacks structural integrity. It repeats the same mistake that made the Belknap such a disaster. It will not handle boat swarms. It cannot defend itself against anti-ship missiles. It is sorely lacking in firepower for NGFS. It has short legs. The CNO said it will be kept out of high threat environments. It has never passed a shock test (because it won’t be shock tested.) So what is it good for? I guess you could probably get a lot of skiers up with that 40 kts of speed. It is insane to order 55 copies of a platform that still isn’t out of “developmental testing.”
    The only capability that the LCS has delivered to the fleet so far is the capability to be towed back to the pier, so more taxpayer dollars can be wasted on it. It may serve a purpose in a SINKEX.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    “But as I said above. Bottom line will never! permit a solution which does not come from the US. Just my two cents…”

    Very emotive, but it doesn’t explain why the USN already has REMUS in inventory and is purchasing Seafox by the end of the year to support a 5th fleet urgent need statement.

    REMUS is effective for what it’s designed for, but it is short legged (never heard that before in relation to anything else), relatively slow, and small enough that environmental factors (current specifically) limit its usefulness compared to an AN/AQS-20 A/C. It’s a speed thing, and the REMUS just can’t cover the volume.

    SeaFox (currently being procured for use on MH-53 and MCMs) is also a very capable system. How many neutralization charges does it hold? The answer is one but the AMNS (going to live fire testing this year and already successful against mine shapes off Panama City, FL) carries four neutralization charges. Again, it is an issue of speed when clearing a minefield.

    The paradigm of mine clearance is changing, and it seems likely that the reputation of that mine neutralization being very slow (out of necessity when you have eighty sailors in a minefield sporting a a wood/plastic ship for protection) will come to an end. This is a positive development for a number of both economic and operational reasons.

    The mythology that the USN has a “not invented here” mindset is easily debunked with just a very little research.

  • Byron

    Sperwaffe, Ben is correct: Perry FFGs have had British made fin stablizers since the very early 80s. LCS-2 has Rolls Royce turbines and Italian diesels (I have a big problem with that and it has nothing to do wih what country built the parts; its more about commonality of parts and ease of repair and that goes directly to life cycle maintenance costs).

    Sorry, LCS has failed in ever demonstrated metric you care to name and only now is the Navy beginning to realize it. I’m a career civilian..but even I knew over five years ago that the crew size was a huge problem. I found out the type of aluminum 4 years ago and knew that the superstructure would crack…and it did…and will continue to do so. Others knew that the fuel consumption figures and how it related to operational range was overly optimistic. We are YEARS into this program and we still do not have an operational module. The Navy fell in love with three things and those three things have crippled this class from day one: the over-reliance on the false need for speed; the ridiculously low draft for a 3,000 ton vessel; cutting manpower to the bone and thinking automation would save the day. Now, if someone can refute my non-transformational thinking I’d be tickled to death to hear it.

  • Retired Now

    We the Taxpayers, who fund the Navy, should have at least a “little” say in how DoD purchases large numbers of naval warships for our country. Time is ripe for CNO to release some “data” to we-the-public taxpayers. Let’s start by publishing to the internet Performance Assessment Reports for LCS1 and LCS2, Developmental Testing Phase 1, also more commonly called DT Ph 1, and DT Ph 2, etc. The LCS is far too controversial to (as is normally done) “hide” the few initial officially evaluated assessment reports produced to date.

    In other words, Navy, if you want to have all us retired Navy folks support LCS 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6….. you need to start sharing some official, professional Developmental Testing DT results. Soon, please, as we taxpayers are growing more and more impatient on all these blogs. This is not the “normal” way CNO/NAVSEA operate, but times are tough now. Do something different, please.

  • SCOTTtheBADGER

    Given it’s offensive and defensive capabilities, and it’s mechanical reliability and fuel economy, it’s time to change the designator type to LVS Littoral Victim Ship.

    Now let’s start building licensed NANSENs. We’ve waited too long as it is.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    BW: The Navy does not have a “not thought of here mindset”, but plenty of Naval Officers and Civil Servants do, double that for political appointees.

    If you haven’t run into them, color yourself lucky…and over due.

    Paul P.: “What is the end cost of the program if they decided to cancel it tomorrow?” Less than what it will if we wait until the day after tomorrow, which means less money for a decent frigate that can be designed off the shelf and actually do something useful in the real ocean, not misplaced ex-marines’ fevered imaginations (if any such are in positions to affect these matters).

    Death to powerpoint. It distorts the logic of the data presented.

  • leesea

    @BW, I was not addressing SHIPALTs to the current designs. I asked the Under if he was going to revisit the TLR for the program, his reply was no. goto Sal’s site for the actual wording.

    IF the Navy changes the TLR for the LCS, then they would have to start a new program to buy more LCS built to different programmatic rqmts and processed thru the acquisiton system. A long and costly process.

    The limiting factor for current class is the Congressional cap on seaframe costs. I suspect there are very few LCS contract mods being processed to keep within those budget caps? Dunno but think so. Defiency correction comes from a different pot of money than Shipalts. The former is pretty much mandatory, the later is optional.

    I don’t agree that LCS as currently configured are capable of surviving a boat swarm (anothe generalization~). I think Cdr Patch is right about permanently assignd mission modules at which point in time the LCS odds will improve.

    BUT – it is not the small boat threat which is the main one. The anti-boat systems can mostly be improved on. The anti-missile systems are going to take a significant redesign. The ASM and ASCM missile threat is a much more deadly one and likewise tougher to defend against.

  • Sperrwaffe

    Benjamin, Byron:
    Maybe I must start putting a warning before my posts, reading: “Caution, this might be a bit provoking…in order to get people to discuss”

    I just wanted to give some examples for Systems that are out there. That provide a better area coverage by use of their new sensor outfit. That must! be used in a combination in order to achieve the complex neccesseties of Mine Clearance.
    But still there are shortfalls for all systems, which often nobody wants to discuss. That’s why I (and my buddies from the European MW Community of NATO) argue for the combination. For the discussion about advantages, developments but also the problems. Because when we f***k up, people are going to die.
    I really liked that citation given above about: “Just because you can put it on a slide, doesn’t mean the physics will cooperate.”
    That is all I want to advocate.

    I know that parts of the paradgims for mine clearance are changing. I worked that topic in NATO and continue to do so for my employer. But not all is changing. Not all new technical developments provide me with the solution “Mission accomplished”.
    A feeling I had when I listened to the speeches at the 2010 MINWARA Symposium. Not very inspiring.
    I don’t want to bash everything of LCS and it’s Modules. I have talked to most of the suppliers of the MIW Modules and there are very good developments. I even promote some of them at my shipyard I now work for since I left my Navy.
    But to bring this slightly OT part to an end. NATO MW Community consideres the functional requirement to enhance NATO’s MCM effort by different means:
    The non-dedicated vessels for enhancement of MCM-effort (Data collcetion and exchange, Change detection, REA etc.) and the dedicated vessels which still have to be there when working in the littorals/confined and shallow waters. The unmanned systems are the force multipliers which have to be integrated. All in a combined world.
    And with that goes the doctrine and ATP development.
    Maybe I have now made my point a little bit clearer.

  • Dave Foster

    Ben W,

    I absolutely dispute your assertion that LCS is currently a capable swarm killer or even likely to be with the armament roadmap envisioned. If, as happens enough in analyses, we very narrowly define the numbers and profiles of the swarming boats, and we assume that the armed H-60 (or H-60s) are up, and we assume that Firescout w APKWS or even Griffen will have more than about the zero-level of strike effectiveness that it is on the path to demonstrating, then we may possibly, on paper, come to believe that we can get mobility or firepower kills on all of the swarming boats. Unless you (and Work) are talking about the highspeed donuts (we can call this something groovy like: Offensive Wake Swarm Killer Manuever in the inevitable TACMEMO). But please. The gun will be a good piece of gear and maybe mounted .50 cals can finish off a few of the creepers. But don’t expect much from any ship or helo/UAV missiles. Any vendor or program office R&D test reports are designed for success so no sense in believing any of that ‘data.’ The senior folks may think they are getting the techincal data on the subsystems performance but they aren’t and never do. Doesn’t make it up through the management filters. Ever.

    I accept that the Navy will never have the sense to get out of the program. All of the chatter about the costs of cancelling contracts is specious but the sloppy thinking and lack of management leadership that led to the project, and so many others, prevails and will continue to do so. Because there is no career penalty for programmatic failures.

    But for goodness sake can everyone stop bs’ing about strike capability against swarms. The challenge has not been solved anywhere in the Navy and certainly not by LCS.

    Best/Dave

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    Sperrwaffe,

    That is indeed a very good and thought provoking comment. I perhaps missed the mark, but I did not get that from the original reply. I completely agree with your points about MIW integration across allied lines, and I think that the LCS MCM module has the potential to be an additive element to the NATO force. We’re a few years away from that level of integration I suspect, but your points are well taken.

    Byron,

    There are plenty of objective measures that the LCS seaframes have delivered on and you know it. Both Freedom and Independence have passed multiple INSURV inspections, Freedom has demonstrated the 30mm, 57mm, and armed helicopter portions of the SUW package, Independence has employed portions of the MCM package, and the likely major seaframe components of the ASW package (from Thales incidentally) is a proven system currently being employed on British frigates.

    GBW,

    Of course I’ve run into a handful of NIH folks, but I think I’ve managed to prove the point that it certainly not systematic and I’d challenge anyone to prove that the institutional Navy has this outlook.

    Usual Suspect,

    What is your dog in this fight? – A discussion that more closely resembles reality when it comes to LCS. This is important for the USN to get right and the emotional and non-factual discussion does not further the interests of the fleet.

    Mine is the life of my son and his shipmates? – I assume by this statement that your think the life of your son and his shipmates is better protected by sending them to sea on MCMs and PCs to conduct the missions of LCS. I disagree that a PC and MCM is more survivable than the LCS. One is a wooden and plastic ship that enters the mine field on purpose to do the mine clearance task. It has no point air defense. The largest gun is perhaps 25mm and likely .50 cal. LCS overmatches PCs in the small boat mission. In other words we disagree, and that’s fine but I don’t think your opinion is based on facts.

    Yours sounds personal, too. I find it extremely difficult to believe that anybody can rationally support such a failure as LCS. – Well, maybe. Having a fact based professional discussion is what USNI supports, and I just don’t see it happening here. Again, we may have to agree to disagree here.

    It fails even at the basic levels of design and construction.- This is patently false and cannot be defended with facts.

    It fails to perform as specified. – This is also not true, and I challenge you to provide evidence.

    It lacks structural integrity.- Not true, and there are plenty of open source documents to support the fact that this is an oft repeated fallacy.

    It repeats the same mistake that made the Belknap such a disaster. – The Belknap was such a disaster because their OOD was overly confident as well as possessing a dearth of situation awareness and collided with an aircraft carrier that poured approximately 3000 gallons of burning JP-5 into the open superstructure caused by the collision. If a DDG-51 standing plane guard did the same thing, the results would be similar regardless of steel construction. I’m not sure if you believe that the aluminum burned or melted, but the fact is that it melted. It has been pretty conclusively proven that plate aluminum cannot burn in 1 atmosphere of air. Again, this is an often asserted but more mythology than fact.

    It will not handle boat swarms. – Prove it. The DT on the SUW module says that it will.

    It cannot defend itself against anti-ship missiles. – What are ESSM and Sea RAM meant to do? Is it point defense for leakers? Yes, but I think what you’re really saying is that LCS is not an AAW destroyer or frigate and you (and many others) don’t like that. While true that it is not an AAW frigate or destroyer, saying the LCS cannot defend itself against air attacks is simply not true.

    It is sorely lacking in firepower for NGFS.- So is the rest of the fleet. The commandant of the USMC has said that the NGFS capability of the USN is sufficient, so I’ll defer to him.

    It has short legs. – It meets the requirements. Freedom has participated in RIMPAC. The COs of the ship are willing to take it below a 50% fuel state. This change in doctrine means that it has about the same legs of a more conventional surface combatant that generally refuels at the 50% point. Changing the doctrine means that the fueling logistics constraints mentioned by many are largely exaggerated. I will grant that you may be right, and we’ll learn quite a bit when Freedom deploys to Singapore in the spring of 2013.

    The CNO said it will be kept out of high threat environments. – Just like MCMs and PCs are today. Incidentally, the USN should be taking a good hard look at all of the fleet as A2/AD capabilities get longer legs. What’s your point?

    It has never passed a shock test (because it won’t be shock tested.) – There have been shock tests performed. I assume you are referring to a full ship shock trial. As of today the current plan is to conduct a full ship shock trial in 2014. There is a growing body of evidence that FSST doesn’t really tell the USN much anyway, and with modeling and simulation being validated by shock trials on USS Winston Churchill, USS Mesa Verde, and USS John Paul Jones the finite element modeling and simulation provides the appropriate predictive metrics to eliminate shock trials entirely across all classes of ships. Intuitively this makes sense given the geometry of current shock testing. You set off a very large UNDEX relatively far away from the ship so that when the shock wave reaches the ship it is for all practical purposes a flat faced orthogonal wave that imparts its energy essentially to all sections of the ship at one time. This does not really represent combat explosions. Modeling and simulation combined with surrogate testing is still being debated, but as I said the current USN plan is to perform FSST on LCS in the 2014 timeframe.

    So what is it good for? – It will be good for what it’s designed for (and already is demonstrating this capability). Additionally, it will represent the first surface combatant with the exception of the LHA/D and CVN that can accommodate continuous weapons systems spiral development (some that we haven’t even imagined yet) over the lifecycle of the ship. It’s really quite evolutionary.

    I guess you could probably get a lot of skiers up with that 40 kts of speed. It is insane to order 55 copies of a platform that still isn’t out of “developmental testing.” – This is silly, but I bet it made you feel good for a minute. There are currently ten LCS under contract with options for ten more. Also, the USN makes a routine of ordering similar quantities (the accurate numbers under contract that I’ve provided) for all classes of ships with the exception of LHA/D and CVN. Welcome to the realities of shipbuilding.

    The only capability that the LCS has delivered to the fleet so far is the capability to be towed back to the pier, so more taxpayer dollars can be wasted on it. – This is yet another oft repeated but completely false untruth. Neither LCS has been towed back to the pier. Why continue to propagate mythology?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “It is sorely lacking in firepower for NGFS.- So is the rest of the fleet. The commandant of the USMC has said that the NGFS capability of the USN is sufficient, so I’ll defer to him.”

    You know that the Commandant’s statement was anything but an endorsement of current capabilities. So your “defer to him” is actually deferring to the rice-bowl admirals who have told the Marine Corps that any additional NSFS would come at the expense of amphibious lift. And it is quite disingenuous, and you know it.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    URR,

    If I recall correctly, we’ve had this discussion before and I just don’t necessarily agree with your characterization of what really was a resource decision. Your characterization of a bunch of bullying admirals intimidating the Commandant (should have been capitalized in my last post, apologies) into obsequiousness just doesn’t square with what I’ve observed in senior USMC leadership. I’ll admit to not having as much experience in this field as you, but I do have some. Money doesn’t grow on trees, so resource allocation risk decisions get made by the decision makers. Disingenuous was not the intent, so I’d ask you to stop stuffing your version of my intent into the discussion. I merely stated the facts.

    I’m not even entirely in agreement with the decision, but I wonder why Marines continue to criticize DDG-1000 if NGFS is really a concern. I’ve strayed far enough off topic, so I’ll leave it at that.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Let’s just say this Commandant and other senior Marines past and present took the high road. And I think you know that, or should, with a modicum of deeper evaluation.

    That same debate has been more than a decade and a half in the making, as USMC has watched NSFS dwindle from adequate, to barely adequate, to inadequate, to almost non-existent. Because many in the Navy hierarchy put projection of power ashore near the bottom of the list of priorities, if it made the list at all.

    Facts, sure. What is left out is telling.

  • Diogenes of NJ

    If they could ever pack one of those advanced vertical gun systems into a LCS mission module – there might be a path to redemption for the LCS – if it could carry enough ammunition and didn’t run out of gas (I know, run it until the FUEL light comes on, why didn’t I think of that).

    - Kyon

  • James-the one true james…

    Dio,

    The LCS could never handle a verticle gun. Its structure has no where near the strength to take it and it isnt a real gun platform anyways.

    I’d be happy with a good set of Harpoon launchers and maybe some short ranged land attack missiles.

  • James-the one true james…

    Ben,

    The Marines continue to hound the DDG-1K because it is a ship incapable of doing what is needed.
    It is the size of a ww2 pocket battleship,Yet was made stealthy so it wouldnt show up on radar…….in the buisiest shipping lanes in the world….while spitting out 20 7ft long cannon shells (which are in no way cannon rounds but missiles so really its even a freaking gun………oh it also cant shoot non guided rounds which was a requirement…hmmm)

    Has little to no self defensive weapons……

    You get where im going. Oh its also based on minimal manning which EVERYONE ADMITS WAS A TERRIBLE IDEA!!!

    Need i go on…..

    The marines are the ones who may one day could on those guns…hopefully the GPS havnt been taken out i some way…….

    Hopefully for the first time in human history NOTHING goes wrong….But hey whats a few dead marines…

  • Byron

    Ben, two points: first you say that, “While true that it is not an AAW frigate or destroyer, saying the LCS cannot defend itself against air attacks is simply not true”…OK, I’ll bite. Just exactly how does the LCS defend itself from air attack? Go fast? RCS? ECM? Prayer? Second, I happen to have a pretty extensive knowledge at the deckplate level about how steel and aluminum works on a Naval vessel…and frankly, aluminum sucks. It will react with salt air just as fast if not faster than steel…and not painting those two ships was just..stupid. The younger shipfitters and welders will certainly make a good living off these ships since we’ll start seeing them in the repair cycle in 8-10 years after introduction to the marine environment. Also, aluminum reacts much worse to bending forces than steel does. Want to know how many fracture repairs I’ve done since the early 80s? Take a guess as to which material is more expensive to repair and how it will affect the life cycle costs…and as a hint, it isn’t steel.

    Thats my thirty years of repairing Navy ships talking.

  • Retired Now

    Meet the SWARM KILLER !

    Say hello to the nemesis of all boats approaching USN warships:

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/jhtml/jframe.html#http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/munitions/images/mk182-image20.jpg

    also, read this open source as well:

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/munitions/mk182.htm

    these are not “brand new” and this type of round will, ? or has ?, been produced at many sizes to include: 127mm, 76mm, 57mm, and 40mm. So, any warship armed with these rounds will make quick work of all terrorists in small boats. Possibly killing all those in each boat with even a single round ! The odds just got better for ASUW gun warfare.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    Byron,

    You are correct in stating that aluminum alloys react very quickly in a marine environment forming an oxidation layer. Conveniently, this oxidation layer protects the aluminum from further corrosion. The USN has stated publicly that the bi-metallic corrosion on the Independence is being addressed on that particular hull as well as follow hulls. It’s a well known problem with a well known solution that the USN has stated is being implemented.

    The real concern with aluminum allows is stress corrosion cracking, and scientific study and industry experience shows that the 6XXX aluminum allows tend to be resistant to stress corrosion cracking. Additionally, they tend to more easily formable and more weldable than some other alloys. I suspect this is the reason they were chose for the Independence variant. I will grant that the electro-chemical processes that cause stress corrosion cracking are not completely understood today, but then again, better is the enemy of good enough. If you’re right, it’s just more work for you. If you’re not, I don’t see any problem and certainly no “fatal flaw” in the ship design. Once again, this issue is being exaggerated by the vocal opponents of the LCS for reasons that I don’t understand.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    I don’t know where the “this will be a crackerjack ‘swarm killer’” notion started, but there are some things that need remembering.

    Guns jam. Two 30mm autocannon might get through an engagemment with 50 boston whalers with a hundred percent kill rate and flawless performance. Maybe. Better to have 4 guns per side plus a CIWS (times two) with a 290 degree arc of fire, forward and aft mounts, and a tested proven ASUW mode. Just remember, CIWS stands for Christ, It Won’t Shoot.

    Optical sights do not mean one shot, one kill. More like a hundred shots, one kill, one damaged and still coming, and one clean missed. Or, worse.

    Magazine capacities are finite. See also the first scene in “Wind and the
    Lion”. Or, if you prefer, “Victory at Sea” re: Kamikazes. As it is, when both bolts lock back and ammo inventory equals zero, you are DOA minus 5 minutes, if that.

    Now two Sea Apache helos in the hangar ready to launch, then you might even up the odds a bit. 5 inch guns, radar laid, firing VT frag, thats not bad either.

    Weapons need maintenence, and maintenence means man hours. Lots of man hours. The. Crew. Is. Too. Damn. Small. For wartime survival.

    The opinion of Under Secretaries means little out on the real ocean, aka, the old gray widow maker.

  • Diogenes of NJ

    Grandpa knows from where he speaks. War ships have guns – lots of guns – and enough sailors to man those guns, steer the ship, put out fires and tend to the wounded all at the same time; and plenty of ammunition.

    How about we CANX this whole “Global Force for Good” thing and get back to a fighting man’s Navy – while we still have a chance.

    - Kyon

  • Pops

    It’s not an FF or an FFG. It’s not a PC, nor an MCM. What is it, really? Where does it fit in the fleet?

    It is the height of folly to program for what, 55, of these costly “Lanikai Cruise Ship” platforms when it hasn’t proven the ability to do anything except rate mostly red in inspections. Why so many planned for this class? As a taxpayer I resent the opulent, prodigious spending on such an unproven concept/vessel. Our pockets are not bottomless!

    Regarding the purported, computer-generated, PowerPoint-depicted swarm killer capability, review the picket destroyer experience off Okinawa and rethink the multi-axis swarm versus the minimum armament capability of the LCS. It may be less capable than a 1945 vintage LCS(L), let alone a DD of the era!

    Seems to me the LCS, as is, will be more susceptible to be hit in swarm environs, and to succumb to damage received, than other warships of comparable size. Not much bang for the buck – I don’t believe this is the best we can do for the tax dollars…

  • Rich B

    @ Retired Now

    KE-ET will solve all problems with surface gunnery against a swarm?

    How many rounds does the average ship get to fire a year? How many rounds have they EVER fired of this munition? How proficient are the crews? Have they ever fired in a high speed maneuvering situation with dramatic rudder swings? Have you seen the ridiculous requirements ship COs have to go through just to fire their batteries in today’s Navy? IF, they get the sea time due to fuel restrictions, etc.

    How do you simultaneously man small caliber arms in the presence of a swinging main gun? I think you underestimate the complexity of targeting a swarm; entering it into the FCS; and prosecuting the engagements.

    I had a true gun-fighting CO as a young WEPS/CSO.. and our wake was often more effective than gunfire at disrupting small boats at high speed when practiced overseas.

  • Retired Now

    Reading the above half dozen comments, then it looks bleak for all our 62 AEGIS DDG’s, which only have 1 gunmount, 5inch, capable of firing the new BB equipped rounds. Ever watched U-TUBE with a CIWS in surface mode trying to hit a small maneuvering boat ? Frustrating. It appears that whether or not a small swarm attacks an AEGIS DDG-51 class or an LCS, the swarm will be able to strike and retreat (mostly) safely. If you read the above comments it appears that our 9,500 ton DDG-51′s are so lightly armed against a swarm surface attack. To be fair, perhaps LCS and DDG are in the same predicament vs HSMST’s ? Regarding the BB type rounds being tested since 1998 (see above links), perhaps all of us should be pessimistic and not optimistic about a future swarm-killer round.

  • http://chuckhillsCGblog.net Chuck Hill

    When we go into a swarm, perhaps placing some Marines with their weapons space around the perimeter might not be a bad idea.

  • Phil Salvatore

    A couple of points not addressed in all the carping above. Number one, traditional mine warfare vessels are not seaworthy in blue water. They are achingly slow to cross oceans and the crews are exhausted when they arrive in places like the Persian Gulf after a long ocean transit from someplace like San Diego. If you deploy them abroad you can never have enough in any region to do the job. Part of the idea of moving mine warfare from these slow dedicated platforms was to allow mine warfare to be conducted in any theater any time mines are encountered. If LCS is cancelled, what is the plan then? Back to slow minesweepers? That is a step backward.
    Similarly, a big part of the reason the LCS was developed is the inability of deep draft ocean going frigates to go inshore and fight with the fast attack craft that arm the navies of many of the nations we may need to fight abroad. The US Navy has tried for many decades to come up with a deployable FAC that can deal with enemy FACs on their own terms, but their poor seaworthyness in blue water, short legs, lack of room for stores, laundry facilities, etc, frequent refuelings and replenishments slows the rest of the carrier strike group down unacceptably. The Navy needs something that can deploy like a deep draft ship, keep up with the CSG and yet have the shallow draft and high speed necessary to mix with enemy FACs on their terms and prevail.
    If someone here is going to tell me a modified NCS can do the mission I will laugh in their face. Such a ship will end up being every bit the disappointment the LCS is considered.
    Frankly, what I see is a navy that is far too conservative, afraid to innovate and stuck in an operational paradigm from the Cold War. New hull forms like those used for LCS 2 or the DDG-1000 scare conservative old salts. Guess what? If we are unwilling to take risks and innovate, we won’t prevail against future enemies. Canning the LCS program, instead of fixing the problems, building a “patrol frigate” out of a less capable Coast Guard cutter design and returning to building old fashioned minesweepers does not solve the problems the LCS was designed to address. It is the surrender to the status quoe by minds that cannot stretch to see new possibilities. I

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