From DoD today:


The Navy announced today the decision to deploy the USS Freedom (LCS 1) in early 2010 to the Southern Command and Pacific Command areas ahead of her originally scheduled 2012 maiden deployment. According to Navy leaders, Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) are needed now to close urgent warfighting gaps.

“Deploying LCS now is a big step forward in getting this ship where it needs to be – operating in the increasingly important littoral regions,” said Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations. “We must deliver this critical capability to the warfighter now.”

The USS Freedom will have an immediate impact on fleet readiness and global reach as an asset with unique combat capabilities and the ability to meet littoral tasking not previously seen in the modern cruiser or destroyer fleet.


“The Navy plans to build a considerable number of littoral combat ships which will form the backbone of our future fleet,” said Adm J. C. Harvey, Jr., commander, U.S. Fleet Forces, charged with executing the early deployment. “The sooner we integrate them into our fleet, the sooner we can incorporate them in the order of battle. This deployment offers a golden opportunity to learn by doing. Employing the USS Freedom in theater two years ahead of a normal timeline allows us to incorporate lessons that can only be learned in a deployment setting more quickly and effectively in the LCS fleet integration process.”

In evaluating options for deploying the USS Freedom earlier than originally scheduled, the Navy took into consideration several key factors including combat systems testing, shakedown of the ship systems, and overseas sustainment with a new concept of operations and crew training. To facilitate the early deployment, the Navy adjusted the USS Freedom testing schedule, prioritized testing events needed for deployment and deferred others not required for the missions envisioned during this deployment. The USS Freedom recently completed Industrial Post Delivery Availability 2, which also supported an early deployment.


Let’s hope the early deployment into the ORBAT carries with it an honest analysis of LCS shortcomings as a warfighter, the true usefulness of the very high speed requirement, and perhaps a flexibility for a less avant garde design that is more survivable and hard-hitting, with an equally appropriate crew size, before being built in those future “considerable numbers” which will become the “backbone of the fleet”. Say, 35 knots, steel hull, built to Level II specs, and perhaps a 5″-62 in place of that itty-bitty 57mm?

Might even be able to save a few bucks.

Posted by UltimaRatioReg in Maritime Security, Navy

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  • Cap’n Bill

    I am sure that many will join me waiting for water to be changed into wine. Good Luck, You All!

  • Byron

    Maybe CNO has been reading the CDR, and decided to send LCS to the WESTPAC to go operational to see what and how much breaks.

  • So URR, how much do you want to spend to develop that 35-knot frigate or destroyer? What role does it have – fleet escort, picket, independent ops? Is it single- or multi-mission?
    Even if you pick an “off-the-shelf” Euro-frigate and change nothing, there will be considerable developmental cost involved in qualifying the systems against USN standards.

  • … and what mission module is she taking? I don’t see that anywhere.

    Please don’t tell me we are sending her “slick.” If we do – that is just sad.

    Oh well, even if slick, let’s throw her into the mix and see what happens.

  • leesea

    “Littoral combat ships which will form the backbone of our future fleet,” said Adm J. C. Harvey, Jr.” Huh BACKBONE what is he smoking?

    The whole delivery and post-delivery events of LCS-1 have been peculiar to say the least. Two PDAs – why? Has the ship completed OT&E? Has a final INSURV been completed? When will a PSA be done? Will all that be done before she deploys?

    Inquiring minds want to know!

  • Bobby Ferguson

    All we are saying is, “Give Freedom a chance!”. The Navy has had her for about a year. I think they are in better position to detemine if she can serve a positive purpose out there. If she didn’t deploy, many of you would be asking why the Navy was scared to put her in harm’s way. Focus your attention on Independence — $100,000 more in cost than Freedom and still counting. Sea trials not completed.

  • Bobby Ferguson

    Did I say one hundred thousand? Oops, it’s one hundred million more than Freedom.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    At this point perhaps it would be best if we each just issued an anthology of our previous posts. Since all that remains are four hooves protruding from a gelatinous mass which DNA analysis confirms is of equine origin, I will content myself with an executive summary:

    The LCS is folly made manifest.

    Junk it immediately.

    (Why bother, wait for nature to take its course.)

    Prediction: The first two LCS’s will get junked within 3 years.
    A small somewhat improved gunboat class will get built, four to eight, labeled LCS. After some operational and upkeep experience, a follow on class, which will look something like the the “second flight” but be an austere but more appropriately armed and manned FFG minus, will emerge (just like the ADCAP Mk 48 torpedo is an upgraded mod of the Mk 48, ya sure). Low vessel count (4-8) class. Then… change in strategy, new naval realities, yadda yadda, smoke, mirrors, run ’em hard, put ’em up wet, put out to pasture or sell to Kenya, Mexico, or Nigeria. Early.

    Then we’ll try to design and build an adequate frigate.

    Add 20 years: “Sir, what was an LCS?”. “A lemon, don’t concern yourself, Midshipman.”


    Worth getting some real world experience in some aspects of the ship that won’t change much such as engineering. It is probably deploying with a put together module to support VBSS since it is going to Southern Command. I don’t believe any of the modules are fully ready for prime time yet. I would expect we will see it with some additional capability for VBSS and that will be it. Maybe conduct a crew swap/module swap somewhere to do some additional testing (very little of the module equipment has reached IOC yet). However, this actually demonstrates the flexibility of the module concept. When nothing else works, it can be an ok maritime security platform! It will sail around at 15kts or so (kind of like a FFG). It will occaisonally go fast, not because it has to but because it can. It really doesn’t need much for weapons beyond a .50cal, which is good because it doesn’t have any (kind of like a FFG). It can carry a helicopter so it is already better suited for counter drug or counter-piracy patrols than an early DDG (kind of like a FFG).

  • sid

    (kind of like a FFG)

    So…it will take on the roles of an FFG.

    I’d say the LCS as WARship has passed the “Duck” test.

    Walks like a duck. Quacks like a duck. Must be….

    So, what I posited a year ago here is worth a bump.

    Borrowing from Baron Brassey:

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

  • UltimaRatioReg


    If this class of vessel is to the the “backbone”, it darn sure needs to be multi-mission. As for development, the options for such a platform are myriad. Even a Bertholf-class cutter with an upgrade of power plant to give an extra 5-7 knots might be worth a try.

    It seems from the comments of the Admirals above that LCS is indeed going to be assigned many of the roles of the frigate.

    We have swung and missed before, for some of the same reasons. How useful would the Knox-class FFs have been without the peculiar design decision to use a boiler in place of a turbine, and have a single screw? As I understand it, the limitation of LACK of speed in that case (27 kts) prevented the class from being what it was designed to be.

    How useful would a sturdier, more powerful LCS be with a steel hull, 35 knot speed, and Level II construction?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    *Burma Shave*

    In speaking of Knox-class, my understanding was that they were built to be ASW platforms supporting the CVBGs, but couldn’t keep up.

  • @URR,

    I think what you propose could be a very useful vessel as a strike group combatant. What I fear is that developing it as an alternative to the existing plan would impose a significant pause in our already too slow shipbuilding. If we were to start today and follow all of the practices that lead to our last successful “smaller” combatant, we could expect to have an acceptable design for such a new vessel in about 5 years, and get the first-in-class in the water 3-4 years after that. Can we wait 8 years?

  • UltimaRatioReg


    Your point is a good one, but would we have to wait 8 years for a design already in US shipyards? (Bertholf) If so, then the ship design is a symptom, and not the problem. The following of those practices you speak of just may be the problem. Requiring as a design component things that were still highly experimental even as metal was being cut, etc.

    The alternative, then, would be to bank on a badly flawed design to be the backbone of the fleet because we can’t extend the life of current vessels another decade? (Making Byron a fistful of cash with his “SLEP the FIGS” T-shirts and coffee mugs)

  • sid

    Can we wait 8 years?

    There is zip point zero reason to have to wait that long anyway…

    You highlight the reason why the USN (all of DOD really) should -like a century ago- recognize that its seeming inability to get sucessful designs into service will only be solved by fundamental organizational change.

  • sid

    Actually, this early deployment is going to be a good stimulus mechanism.

    Think of the not insignificant sums that will be spent on expensive contractor support in distant, exotic places…

  • Cap’n Bill

    I’m with GrandPa Bluewater. The only way out of this situation is TIME. Sad to recognize that a complete turnover of leadership,new smartz,and a far different acquisition scheme is required. Some of us will live to see the right course of action, many won’t. Our friends in high places have screwed up and it will take time to recover. Sorry Gang, that’s Life.

  • Byron

    O.H. Perry’s went from keel laying to commissioned in two years… The capability is there, just tell the complicating yammerheads (for want of a less polite name) to stay the hell in their plush offices and away from the ship, and WE’LL GET IT BUILT.

  • D. E. Reddick

    USS Freedom has had its two 30 mm chainguns installed. That gives it one 57 mm cannon, two 30 mm cannon, and a 21 shot RAM. That’s adequate defensive capacity for a patrol craft (PC, but not that of a real FF or FFG).

    Perhaps it would be useful if an AH-1Z Viper or an UH-1Y Venom were to be embarked along with a MQ-8B Fire Scout. That would provide some OTH strike capability along with the basic UAV’s scouting and intelligence-gathering capacity.

  • leesea

    The keys to this discussion are time and capablities. We cannot wait 8 years to find out the the next-gen version of the LCS can’t hack it.
    In that time the USN could buy and build several hulls using existing warship designs. I am not sure that the NCS is THE solution but it may be one of the candidates for it suffers in the capablities area – cutters are after all different from frigates.

    The USN has deemed the LCS as its POR and NO bad words will be said by naval officers against it! BUT IMHO the first four LCS will be tested & repaired, and tested & modified again for long periods before reaching IOC.

    WE need to see the rqmts in the next-gen LCS RFP before writing all future hulls off, the Navy might just fix it? maybe? well sorta?

  • Chuck Hill

    It will be doing an actual (not very demanding) mission (relatively close to home and there will be no serious opposition). It will succeed. Therefore, build them by the dozen.

  • D. E. Reddick

    Slower and better armed would be my wish for the LCS (other than something else besides the LCS [really, something else -smaller- and quite different would be my preference – especially in far greater numbers]).

    Yet, if we’re going to build some number of the LCS, then I would expect that we should lessen the top speed from 47 knots to something like 35 knots by reducing the size of the present gas turbine installation. Smaller gas turbines and the same sort of cruising diesels would make the basic hull lighter and capable of longer sustained operations. Also, this would allow for a greater weapons load-out.

    Now, for the start of a greater weapons package, then replace that forward 57 mm BAE / Bofors cannon with something far more substantial like the (Oto Melara) Otobreda 127/64 gun system. Picture is here:

    PDF information sheet is here:

    Wikipedia entry for the gun mount is here:

    The Otobreda 127/64 gun has four separate ready ammo drums, with each drum carrying 14 rounds of differing types of rounds. The rate of fire is 40 / 45 rounds per minute. That is twice the rate of fire for the USN Mk 45 (5″) 127/54 & 127/62 gun systems. Do we all understand a potentially superior gun system (longer range, four-way multi-targeting capability) when it’s shown to us?

    Then, replace the two single-purpose 30 mm chainguns with two of the dual-purpose 57 mm BAE / Bofors cannons. Push out the modular bays for the weapons (as sponsons) so that the two 57 mm cannon could shoot fully forward and aft in support of the larger, forward 5″ cannon and also in support of the RAM launcher (weapons coverage redundancy is the operative term, here).

    And, as with the U.A.E. Baynunah class of multi-role corvettes, install Mk-48 or Mk-56 VLS launchers on the flanks of the hanger superstructure in sponsons. These would carry the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) as a dual-purpose strike and defensive missile system. Again, weapons systems redundancy is the intent.

    Given these modifications, then the LCS type could function as a truly armed warship. Four different weapons systems with two or more functional capabilities would make it an effective surface combatant (not a limited-role PC-like over-sized and under-armed limited capability semi-warship).

    Then, add a couple of SH-60 Seahawks and you would have an ASW and potential OTH strike capability. Or, as I related above: …perhaps it would be useful if an AH-1Z Viper or an UH-1Y Venom were to be embarked along with a MQ-8B Fire Scout. That would provide some OTH strike capability along with the basic UAV’s scouting, intelligence-gathering, and targeting capacity. There wouldn’t be an ASW component in this latter package. But, if you’re operating off the coastlines of failed (or, otherwise) nation-states lacking submarines – well, here you have a capable platform created out of the presently anemically-rendered LCS design.


    I think it is a good idea. What better place to try out a new ship class, like close to home. She will be only days or week from homeport, in case she has issues or gets recalled. Also, Northrop Grumman shipyards are within reach as well, in case of any major issues. One concern may be PSA. I did not see that listed in the timeline. The LSC also has a better combat systems than FFGs, so she may very do much better in that environment, especially with radar and communications. She is also very nimble and fast, so hopefully that will work in her favor as well. I was fortunate enough to make a visit to JIATF South last year, if she chops to them, they will employ her to her fullest. I am sure we will see good things come from this ‘deployment’. Good luck!

  • Grandpa Bluewater


    Sounds like the “flight two” I postulated above. I wish I could be positive about the idea’s chances of adoption. “Not thought of here” remains key management concept in certain management localities, most likely.

    I have a hunch that the Project Office does not have a grip on the
    “modules”, which will prove a great set of manhour and money sinks, highly resistant to adult supervision, based on the eerie silence about them from a program starving for good news to tell the world. But I digress.

    Now if you add a small surface duct hull mounted sonar, some way to get a LW ASW torpedo over the side, port and stbd, a winch aft for a short towed array, a dipping helo, RBOC, nixie, and a slightly more robust AAW and anti cruise missile capability …, and we might be getting up to almost able to live off a hostile coast. Almost.

    As it is we’ve got is a future submerged wreck (uncovers at low tide), able to get to its ultimate destiny as a hazard to navigation at 50 kts.

    We need something able to go into harm’s way…..and come back.

    Yes, the arthritis is a bit better, thanks for asking. So I do feel a little less grumpy.

    So I’m not completely negative. She is more heavily armed and faster than a T-AGOS counter drug variant (see Jane’s), so she might (maybe) do OK off the Mosquito Coast. Watch the speed in poorly charted waters, now.

  • Byron

    What Grampa said…in spades, doubled down.