Lots of traffic over at Salamander’s Place, and at POGO, regarding continued problems with the Littoral Combat Ship program. I have commented on this struggling and costly program several times, and will refrain from doing so here, with the exception of a paraphrase of a comment that Sid made at Sal’s:

The Littoral Combat Ship is not built to survive combat in the littorals.

LCS was constructed to house weapons “modules” that do not exist, and in fact, consist largely of the theoretical.

Speed was going to be the capability which allowed LCS to avoid trouble. And now that single capability is negated by the fragility of the design that was required to reach those speeds.

Summed up thus:


Someone, ANYONE, with a wide stripe on a sleeve tell us that he is wrong. And WHY he is wrong.




Posted by UltimaRatioReg in Aviation, Foreign Policy, Hard Power, History, Homeland Security, Marine Corps, Maritime Security, Naval Institute, Navy, Proceedings

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  • Good post.

    Sid is right, and arm-waving by CNO and SecNav won’t change the facts. This thing is failing in plain sight—and luckily in peacetime. Let’s hope someone in leadership will kill this program and get us back on track.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    LCS delende est. Now, not later.

    Use the cash to buy something off the shelf that will be useful, maintainable, survivable, practical, and reasonably versatile, and not cost an arm and a leg to build, maintain, or operate. With two 5 inch guns, a hull mounted sonar, ASW torpedo tubes, a SAM and SSM capability and a helo hangar. If it can make 30 knots at trials is made of steel, has good sea keeping and a big enough crew to fight and win while hurt, she’ll be a keeper. CIWS and chain guns, be still my beating heart.

    Give a hull number that starts with DE and name ’em all for heroic enlisted sailors. First up…USS Rueben James.

  • Diogenes of NJ

    LCS Program = Bilge Water

    – Kyon

  • Nicky

    As for the LCS, kill it completely and sell the LCS to countries such as the Philippines or Taiwan. Restart the Frigate program and force the US Navy to look at either getting a Patrol frigate out of the US Coast Guard’s National Security Cutter or getting a Euro frigate such as the Álvaro de Bazán class frigate, Fridtjof Nansen class frigate or the FREMM multipurpose frigate.

  • M965466

    National security cutter has its own issues, but it could be turned into a relatively effective FF or DE. Question is, that takes care of the LCS SUW mission; what about the MCM & ASW missions?

  • Byron

    The thing to keep in mind is that these fractures, these structural failures are the end result in a long list of incredibly bad design decisions. First, speed. Second, exceptionally low draft. There’s a lot more of that ship out of the water than there is below the waterline. That means the center of gravity is higher than it should be. Now, I’ve heard that the same BS about DDG1000 about manuevering around severe weather; it simply doesn’t wash. You are either mission ready or you’re not. If the seas are on your beam you turn into them…but what do you do if you MUST be on-station to take care of your part of the mission plan? Seas that an FFG or other frigate would consider “fresh weather”? And being so high out the water means that the top of the ship is placing bending forces on the rest of the ship; thats why you see fractures like the ones in the picture…they are at both forward corners of the deckhouse at the foc’sl (in the ships case, the 0-1 level) and they are approximately 3″ above the bi-metallic strip. This is an indication that the superstructure is bending up and down as the whole front of the house moves back and forth.

    Last, the material is not just aluminum…it’s grade 6061…which breaks rather than bends, much more so than the grade used by FFGs and CGs, 5456. Certain bloggers and the Navy would have you believe that the problem is fixed…but design issues NEVER go away, they are built into the fabric of the ship. If they could get her CoG lower, the problems would be eased…but the flight deck and mission bays would be useless, since they’d be nearly awash.

    In summation, every time I hear about this class and its sister class the news just gets worse and worse. Will the Navy ignore good sense? Will Congress grow a pair and kill this program before it kills a sailor…a crew? That’s the real question here.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    Why the 6061 aluminum? Any ideas? Seems the precise wrong choice to endure the torques and stresses of a ship’s hull and superstructure.

  • Benjamin Walthrop


    Don’t most surface ships have more air draft than water draft. I believe this is so for combatants and amphibs. It’s certainly true for CVN’s. In fact, only submarines have less above water than below water. I’m not sure lowering KG would actually reduce the stresses in the superstructure. If so, why wouldn’t someone just add fixed ballast low?

  • Byron

    It’s a whole lot cheaper. I priced some aluminum round bar, 12feet long, 1/2″ diameter. 5086 was three times more expensive than the 6061. It was for shop use only, because that was the only way I could get it..we can’t use it on the FFG or CG, verbotten

  • Byron

    Ben, if someone would pinpoint the meta-center, we’d know how far. Wrong aluminum type, too much sway in the house=fractures everywhere.

  • Byron

    M9?: When they get working modules, we’ll get back to you.

  • Andy (JADAA)

    I would submit, ladies and gentlemen, that this, along with the LPD and JSF programs, is why you CAN NOT run the Navy like an “enterprise,” or business or whatever you want to call it. Sadly, you can trace a lot of this whole disaster right back to SECDEF Aspin’s now-infamous “Last Supper” almost twenty years ago. It’s been downhill, with a few, bright exceptions, ever since.

  • Scott B.

    “Work tried (again) to allay worry about LCS’ endurance in the Pacific — when the ships are running on their diesels at normal speed, he said, they’ll be comparable to today’s frigates.”

    Reality Check :

    1) According to the Navy Fact Sheet dated January 2012, the LCS Freedom variant has a range of 3,500 NM @ 14 knots (also note the 3,450 mt FLD).

    2) Back in February 2003, the requirement document called for a THRESHOLD of 3,500 NM @ 18 knots with payload, and this was supposed to be a CRITICAL design parameter.

    3) The OHP (4,200 mt FLD) have a range of 5,000 NM @ 18 knots. See for instance :

    The MEKO A-200 frigates (3,600 mt) have a range of 7,500 NM @ 16 knots.

  • Easily sinkable.
    Fleets of hundreds of AI-controlled miniships would be more effective.

  • Scott B.

    Byron said : “The thing to keep in mind is that these fractures, these structural failures are the end result in a long list of incredibly bad design decisions. First, speed. Second, exceptionally low draft.”

    Third : the enormous increase in FLD

    Just before the construction option was exercized in December 2005, the LockMart design was supposed to have a FLD of 2,850 metric tons.

    According to the Navy Fact Sheet dated January 2012, the LockMart design now has a FLD of 3,450 metric tons.

    This 600 metric tons increase not only produces a lot of stress on the structure : it also means that the LockMart design offers ZERO growth margin.

  • Diogenes of NJ

    LCS a tribute to CAD/CAM. I don’t imagine anyone remembers how to work a slide-ruler. This is much better than those old dinosaur systems like the B-52 that are still flying. BTW I believe the B-52 airframe is some sort of aluminum alloy. Maybe they should go to the bone yard and scavenge material for the follow-on ships.
    – Kyon

  • Matt

    There is a reason why aluminum has not replaced steel in buildings. Aluminum is simply not used as the primary structure in buildings why would ships be any different?

    Also, I’ve been wondering why ships made of steel have an expiration date yet buildings do not. The Empire State Building is still around yet we retire ships like the Enterprise. Someone enlighten me please.

  • Chuck Hill

    I presume being constantly immersed in salt water has something to do with it, along with the effects of constant flexing because of wave action.

  • James (the other one)

    It is a criminal activity in my mind to continue to push the LCS on the Naval personel and the people of this country. No greater mistake has been seen in ship building in this country that i can remember.

    In a world where there are many ships that easily do everything demanded of the class (which it itself cannot do) and yet ignore all the lessons learned. To develope and build then use billions upon billions of dollars and years of work upon a class that was to form the back bone of the US navy is criminal. It failed the moment the speed requirement was put in.

    Ships are not aircraft.

    If we continue down this road it is out of greed, pride, and will result in a less powerful Navy, Nation and the dead bodies of our family members, friends, and/or children.

  • James (the other one)

    Chuck i remember someone getting angry that the absolon was mentioned and questioned whether the Danes who build it could pass US ship building specifications…

    Lets ignore the fact that the same people build the largest ships on the planet and that the military vessels they build operate in some of the most extreme enviroments we have…

    Seriously the US has passed along the San antonio class the LCS and the DDG-1K…….really i dont think its danish ship building we need to worry about.

  • Scott B.

    Connecting the dots (part 1):

    Pentagon Waives Testing Requirement For Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship :

    The Pentagon has waived the statutory requirement for full-up, system-level survivability testing of the Littoral Combat Ship because it would be “unreasonably expensive” and “impractical,” a decision blessed by the Defense Department’s top weapons tester, DOD officials say.


    hull cracks / shaft seals leaks



  • Scott B.

    Connecting the dots (part 2)

    “Unreasonably expensive” / “Impractical” = statutory requirement for full-up, system-level survivability testing of the Littoral Combat Ship simply because LCS would fail to pass the test.

    It’s that simple. No need for hyperboles…

  • Scott B.

    Connecting the dots (part 3)

    Initially, both LCS variants were supposed to be fitted with a retractable hull sonar and a torpedo defense system. Both of these were supposed to be part of the seaframe, meaning mission-module independent.

    LockMart variant showing the so-called *multi-purpose sonar* forward and the so-called *Torpedo Alert System* aft.

    GD variant showing the so-called *retractable mine aviodanc sonar* forward and the so-called *SSTD* and *Torpedo Decoy Launcher (P/S) aft.

    The sonars and the torpedo defense system both went (quietly) down the drain as cost saving measures.

  • GIMP

    LCS exists only for the purpose of transferring money to defense industry in the name of maintaining shipbuilding capacity.

    Aluminum? It’s common knowledge in bicycle racing circles that aluminum frames are great due to light weight and stiffness, but you have to throw them in the trash after a season (maybe two) because they fail catastrophically and will hurt you badly. Chromoly steel is heavier, flexes more, fails gracefully, and lasts a long, long time. Why would anyone build an aluminum ship?

  • James (the other one)

    Why gimp? Because there was no way to make 55kts……oh wait its 45kts now isnt it….Anyways cant make that speed with that much mass AND have a very shallow draft.

    And use the cheapest aluminum you can find so you can claim its cheaper than a alternative.

  • Cap.n Bill

    What will it take to sette this discussion? There is a temptation to spin a political tale but the gestation period hits many folk who should have known better. Whatever happened to Excellence in Design ?

  • Thomas Weyandt

    How about the Surface Combat Ship LCS variant which can be scaled, so they (LockMart website) to 150 meters and fitted with a more substantial combat system? If we must build these turkeys, build a more fully equipped, larger variant with greater defensive and hopefully greater survibility.
    However, the fundamental design defects, as pointed out, will not go away.
    Can they be fixed in the 150 metre SCS variant?
    Growth margin greater in SCS?

  • Thomas Weyandt

    Been looking at the updated SCS website and if scaledup as mentioned as possible to over 150 meters vs. current 188,2 meters perhaps the objection might be overcome with additional systems.
    SPY-1F frigate size (8 foot diameter antenna), two tracking/illuminators, further enlarged hangar for two helos and 3 armed VTUAVs.Increased engine power (LM 6000s w/57,000 shp and best claimed fuel economy) for sprint to compensate for increased size w/ increased displacement.
    More fuel to extend radius at cruise and sprint speeds.
    Five inch gun fwd.-Italian lightweight 5/64 inch gun and Volcano guided ammo w/ four 14 round feed drums and higher ROF than USN Mk 45.
    Eight cell self defense length VLS fwd for ESSM.
    Four eight cell strike length VLS around hangar
    Total 40 VLS (24 SM AA/8 VLA-ASROC/32 ESSM)
    Displacement increase, how much?
    Deckhouse recieves addtional level, bridge moved up one level,beam increased. Deckhouse hangar height raised for CV-22/MV-22 to be hangared. Top mounted RAM and 76mm Oto Melara Super Rapid with guided AA ammo. Two Typhoon mounts w/ 30mm gun and short range antisurface missiles. SSM module w/ 16 Harpoon or something else?
    Marinized MRLS?

  • Matt C.

    But Undersecretary Work shouted that it’s a WARSHIP — so it must be true.

  • Paul

    Lockheed has a “medium caliber gun”? Since when is a 57mm considered to be medium caliber? I know that weaponry has come very far since “back in the day” but a 57mm isn’t much of a cannon when it comes to a sea fight.

  • Diogenes of NJ

    I apologize for linking to a rather long article regarding the deficiencies of the LCS-1; however since the problems are myrid, it cannot be helped:


    It is coming up on a long weekend (Memorial Day), so there may well be time to digest the topic at length.

    Additionally, your Memorial Day weekend time management plan would benefit if you take 8 minutes to view SteeljawScribe’s video:


    SJS – I honor the acheivement that this video represents. You bring forth an understanding that we all should have of the scarifices that have been made on our behalf by previous generations of Americians. I strongly recommend that those who write for and participate in this blog, heed the truth and wisdom of the words of the last few frames (7:32+) as Diogenes has never encountered any better.

    How small is a career by comparison?

    – Kyon

  • From the Navy’s perspective, the issue is no longer whether the LCS meets some sort of performance criteria or whether it is a good design. The issue is credibility. The Navy swore up and down to Congress that the LCS was overwhelmingly and absolutely vital to our national security and that littoral warfare was the future of naval combat. The Navy has painted themselves into a corner and to admit now that the LCS is the wrong ship would damage Navy credibility beyond recovery.

    Navy credibility took a major hit in front of Congress when the Navy did its 180 degree about face on the DDG-1000. In less than a year the DDG-1000 went from being overwhelmingly and absolutely vital to our national security and the future backbone of our naval forces to incapable of operating in the littorals.

    Congress is coming to view the Navy as a used car salesman – willing to say anything to get Congress to buy. To turn around now would cost the Navy what little remaining credibility they have. The Navy will force the LCS to be a success. It’s just a matter of throwing more Public Relations at it and having UnSec Work shout a little louder.

  • Byron

    You forgot to mention the A-12…and the Navy is already being looked at like a used car salesman…at least when it comes to procurement.

  • Thomas Weyandt

    Perhaps the so called miniBurke option might clean up this mess but the ship will have to go back to the designers.
    Aegies/SPY 1F w/ 32 cells
    RAM launcher fwd on foredeck behind main gun aft on deckhouse
    Five inch DP gun
    2 X 3 12.75″ TTs
    SKALES Oto Melara Super Rapidd 76/62 gun on deckhouse aft
    V-22 in hangar.
    Lengthened hull
    More fuel/same propulsion plant
    150 crew
    Mission Modules as in LCS but more room for the offboard vehicles
    Lenghened deckhouse by 80 feet/20 feet on helo deck/20 feet foredeck
    Heightened deckhouse if necessary or heightened hangar for V-22 accomadation or 2 H60 helos and 4-6 VTUAVs
    Hull and towed array sonar
    Composite deckhouse stronger than aluminium with steel hull retained
    Lengthen from 119 to 155 meters.
    Provision for 21 inch wire guided TTs
    Hard kill torpedo countermeassure
    16 Harpoons or successor ASCM on deckhouse
    Two weapons/sensor module spaces
    Mk 41 VLS with 32 strike length cells
    for ESSM/SM-2/Tomahawk/ASROC
    Is this more viable then LCS and I know it would cost more than a run of the mill LCS but at least it can fight.