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Document: Littoral Combat Ship Report to Congress

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USS Independence hosts Australian Rear Adm. Stuart Mayer

The following is the Aug. 4, 2014 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background and Issues for Congress.

  • Zomby D’Wulf

    they are gonna have to spend months scrubbing off all that whitewash

  • OleSalt_1

    Very detailed report I must say. The Obama Administration was not in favour of any further production of the LCS. Has it changed its mind? Has the American Congress supported the research/report?

  • OLD GUY

    The following is a quote from the report.

    “Specifically, the Navy is studying existing ship designs (including the LCS), a modified LCS, and a completely newship design, including their estimated cost, to determine the most affordable method forimproving the capability of this critical element of our force. Pending the results of this study(due in support of FY 2016 budget formulation), the Navy will restrict LCS contract actions within the first 32 ships of the class.”

    The LCS (Literally, a Crummy Scheme) should be cancelled, NOW. It has little value, and great complexity. I have, in other posts, detailed the 1975 concept of the SEAMOD program, which in 2014 dollars would cost ~60% of LCS units, with much better adaptability; but even that does not meet current threats. What IS critically needed now is a fast, well armed, highly maneuverable, medium range, low cost ship. When you Google that into my specialized data base, OUT POPS, guess what?
    PHM (USS PEGASUS) CLASS. ’nuff said.

  • rambeau

    While the need for the LCS is genuine, I feel that the project has tried to put too much into too small of a container. This has resulted in a ship which is less capable than many fo it’s foreign Navy’s counterparts. We in the U.S. have this mind set that we must build everything bigger and better than everyone else. Perhaps we can look at some of the other platforms out there and copy their exceptional qualities in our version.
    The modular weapons suites are another problem. When needed, will we have time to install the suites and train the men to effectively operate them, or will the battle be over before the switch over is complete? Remember, the most accurate rifle in the world is still only as accurate as the shooter behind it.
    The report is accurate and hits a lot of the problems/issues square in the face; however, it lacks a specific direction or recommendation to corrrect them. Leaving congress to “vote” on the issue will be like letting babies play with hand grenades.

  • sentinelfahja

    These ships were meant to replace the Avenger & Cyclone classes. The Brass needed to get more use out of the crews that they felt were sitting around idly. LCS is nothing more than an up gunned MCM ship. In the age of Multitasking they figured they could send these ships on low intensity actions to show the flag instead of training incessantly like the MCM crews and serving as gunboats as the Cyclones do. How do I know this cause I served on an FFG during the 80’s when these very same arguments started. Guess what, one of the very same admirals running the program recently were having these very same discussions as a Lt Cmdr in our CIC in 1984. Our XO was the CO on an MCM and complained about never putting to sea. 1 ship with 80 crew members with no where to go but train, train, train. These people are the senior brass today.

    Unfortunately the LCS designation created an unreasonable expectation of these sea frames. If LCS1 was PC16 and LCS 2 was MCM 40 we would be quite impressed with what they are vs. what we currently have. It makes sense to make full use of these crews and provide them with better equipment. They are no replacement for the FFG’s. I would question the sea keeping abilities of these hulls in the North Atlantic.

    Call them what they are and start working on a proper frigate.

  • Secundius

    @ sentinelfahja.

    The Averger class, is a Mine sweeper. And the Cyclone class, is a Gun Boat. I don’t follow your logic.

    • sentinelfahja

      These are the ships they are replacing with LCS. The idea is to take advantage of these idle crews by re-tasking these personnel on a multiuse platform. The Replacement for the FFG’s was supposed to be a combo of later flight LCS and some of the higher end duties are taken over by the higher number of DDG hulls being built. Freedom’s Hull form would lend itself to Gunboat use hence a replacement for the Cyclones. Independence with the larger mission space capability lends itself to MCM use. Notice which units were assigned which module for testing. For drug interdiction, pirates, show the flag they are perfect. 32 hulls would just about replace the PC’s and MCM units being decommissioned. But without and increase in tonnage and expensive mods these hulls would be hard pressed to serve as a modern day frigate. Remember the Perry’s are 1970 tech, we need something a little more current.

      • Secundius

        @ sentinelfahja.

        I don’t see the logic of replacing a 250-ton Gunboat and a 1,200-ton Mine Sweeper with 3,100-ton Combat Vessel. It doesn’t make sense.

        • sentinelfahja

          You answered your own question. Stanflex system was the initial stab at a modular system that works well with smaller combatants in Europe. Since we are a global navy we have different requirements. Our ships should not be designed for benign environments since the enemy will use that to his advantage.

          • Secundius

            @ sentinelfahja.

            The problem is, my friend, nowhere in the posting does it mention, replacing the AVENGER class Mine Sweeper. All it said, it fill the roll of Mine Sweeper, when needed too. And, is also doesn’t mention replacing the roll of the CYCLONE, which is being phased out of service. The FREEDOM and/or the INDEPENDENCE are replacing either the AVENGER or the CYCLONE classes.

          • sentinelfahja

            Some of the statement offered by the current and past CNO’s point to this very fact.

  • OLD GUY

    I wish more people would comment on my piece for what is NEEDED, not just ‘druthers.
    The “1970s ship technologies have not been improved one iota because ALL ship development R&D money was swiped by Lehman to put useless armored box launchers on the four IOWA class battleships. Electronic suites, combat systems, support suites and advanced weaponry can be retrofitted at great savings on serviceable ships. So-called “stealth” features are useless. You show me a wake, I’ll show you a ship.
    As far as “multi-mission” platforms go I would like to bring to mind the fantastically expensive F-35, and, earlier, McNamara’s “TFX”.

  • Secundius

    @ LCS Program – Modularized Mission Package Concept.

    In all of these three areas, the modular mission packages are central feature of both the FREEDOM and INDEPENDENCE designs and provide the principal warfighting capabilities and functionalities for specific mission ares. These mission packages can be further defined as follows:

    > LCS Mission Package: Mission Module Crew + Support Aircraft + Mission Modules.
    > Mission Modules: Mission Systems + Support Equipment.

    The MIW Mission Package, will enable FREEDOM to conduct MCM missions using onboard and off-board systems, from Blue Water up to the very-shallow Green Water MCM region near the beach. It allows her to:
    > Detect, classify and identify surface, moored and bottom mines to permit maneuver or use of selected sea areas.

    > Coordinate/support, mission planning and execution with joint and combined assets in the absence of dedicated MIW command and control platforms. MIW mission planning will include the use of organic and remotely operated sensors. The LCS will exchange MIW tactical information including mine-danger areas, mine locations, mine-types, environmental data, bottom maps, offboard system locations, planning search areas and confidence factors.
    > Conduct, mine reconnaissance.

    > Perform, bottom mapping.
    > Perform, minefield break through/punch through operations using offboard systems.
    > Perform, minesweeping using offboard mission systems.
    > Conduct, precise location and reporting of a full range of mine countermeasures (MCM) contact data, for example, identified mines and non-mine bottom objects.
    > Perform, mine neutralization.
    > Employ, reconfigure and support MH-60S helicopters for MCM operations.
    > Embark, and explosive ordnance disposal detachment.
    > Deploy, control and recover offboard systems, and process data from offboard systems.

    The SUW Mission Package, will provide FREEDOM, with the capability to engage surface threats, particularly Go-Fasts, and to minimize threats to friendly units, It will enable her to:
    > Conduct, intergrated surface surveillance using both onboard and offboard sensors.
    > Discriminate, and identify friendly and neutral surface vessels from surface threats in high-density shipping environments.
    > Conduct, coordinated SUW mission planning, contribute to and receive a common tactical picture, and initiate engagement of surface threats. It will also allow her to maintain and share situational awareness and tactical control in a coordinated SUW assets, such as fixed-wing and helicopter attack aircraft and maritime patrol aircraft, the LCS must be cabable of planning and coordinating the SUW mission.
    > Engage, surface threats independently, as part of a LCS group, and on coordination with other friendly forces. This includes threats in the line-of-sight and over-the-horizon. In addition to hard-kill capabilities, the LCS will use agility and speed, signature management and soft-kill measures to disrupt the threat’s detect-to-engage sequence and conduct offensive operations against surface threats.
    > Deploy, control and recover offboard systems.
    > Employ, reconfigure and support MH-60R helicopters and smaller rotor-wing aircraft for SUW operations.
    > Conduct, SUW battle damage assessment after engagements against surface threats.

    Finally, FREEDOM’s ASW missions, include multi-sensor detection, classification, localisation, tracking and engagement of submarines throughout the Blue, Green and Brown water column in the littoral operating environment. The LCS will have the capability to embark ASW/multi-mission helicopters and unmanned vehicles and employ undersea surveillance systems, environmental models and databases. The ASW Mission Package, will enable the FREEDOM to:
    > Conduct, offensive ASW operations. The LCS must achieve a mission abort or sink a threat submarine, if the submarine contact of interest is transiting through designated key choke point or operating (e.g., patrolling) in a designated search/surveillance area.
    > Conduct, defensive ASW operations, The LCS must defeat threat submarine attacks against units operating in company with Carrier/Expeditionary Strike Groups/LCS squadrons, The LCS must achieve a mission abort or sink a threat submarine that poses a threat to any friendly units.
    > Conduct, coordinated ASW, contribute to the common undersea picture, maintain and share situational awareness and tactical control in a coordinated ASW environment.
    > Maintain, the surface picture while conducting ASW in a high-density shipping environment.
    > Detect, classify, localize, track and attack diesel-powered submarines operating on batteries in a Green Water environment to include submarines resting on the sea floor.
    > Perform, acoustic range prediction and ASW search planning.
    > Conduct, intergrated undersea surveillance employing both onboard and offboard systems.
    > Achieve a mission kill of ASW threats through engagement with hard-kill weapons from onboard and offboard systems.
    > Employ signature management and soft-kill systems to counter and disrupt the threat’s detect-to-engage sequence in the littoral environment.
    > Deploy, control, recover and conduct day/night operations with towed and offboard systems, and process data from offboard systems.
    > Employ, reconfigure and support MH-60R helicopters in ASW operations.
    > Conduct ASW battle damage assessments after engagements against undersea threats.

    • sentinelfahja

      Great Idea , Hardware not up to snuff yet. Without an “organic” system protecting the ship it would be easy pickings for any half way competent sub skipper. Everyone defends the ships ability to prosecute ASW missions with its aircraft, which is very capable but not in all situations. Sea State 5 or higher helo operations become difficult to say the least. Aircraft break down more often than you think thus leaving the ship helpless. On these boards I’ve read people dismiss ship launched torpedo tubes as useless, yet they might give any sane sub skipper a moment of pause. The same has been written about ASROC, these comments come from people that have never practiced ASW.
      We used to compare ASW to “Knife fighting in telephone booth” it’s better to have more than one knife. The joke was that all ships were nothing but “TARGETS” if this was true then what is the point of a surface fleet? Yet a well trained and determined crew with the right tools can ruing a sub’s day. LCS needs at least a conformal hull mounted sonar and a permanent hull mounted weapon to provide a warning and buy the crew the 5-10 mins they would need to put their helo in the air and prosecute the sub if they are ambushed.

      • Secundius

        @ sentinelfahja.

        You now, the probably said the same about the “cracker box” escorts of Taffy 1, 2 and 3 of WW2. But, when Halsey slit, they got the job done. And against a Japanese Super-Battleship, too

        • sentinelfahja

          What Captain Ernest Evans did with his task force @ Leyte was above reproach. But I would not want to place our sailors in that compromised position ever again. And the fletcher class was heavily armed for their displacement along with the DE Samuel B. Roberts. Those were brave men and a proper example of the fighting spirit of a Destroyer sailor.

          • Secundius

            @ seninelfahja.

            The differences between the Freedom class LCS and the Independence class LCS and the valiant Destroyers and Destroyer Escorts (e.i. Corvettes) in Armor protection, is comparing Night with Day. Both the Freedom and Independence class LCS’s have Kevlar protection in cluding the Aluminum/Steel Armor Plating. The Fletcher and Flower classes, of Taffy 1, 2 & 3, had less than 1/2-inch steel plating between them. And the Japanese Super-Battleship, IJS Musashi. had greater then 18-inch thick armor. 1/2-inch armor, at most times, won’t even stop M2 .50-caliber (12.7x99mm) ball ammo (solid shot) ammunition from penetrating. The Freedom and Independence classes of LCS, are far better protected than their WW2 counterparts ever were.

          • sentinelfahja

            These ships are missile sponges like the Perry’s were during the 80’s. And I agree that damage control systems have improved considerably due to automation. But the fact that we were expected to place our selves between the threat and the carriers was of no comfort when you were expected to deal with AS4 Kingfisher’s with 1 maybe 2 SM1 in the air at one time due to the limit of fire control channels at your disposal.
            LCS does not even have this capability. SEARAM is last ditch defense. 3-4 engagements max then what? C-804s are cheap and they would be used in a swarm against these ships. I understand the numbers game in principle but it is of no comfort when you are sitting in CIC.

          • Secundius

            @ sentinelfahja.

            At the present time the FREEDOM/INDEPENDENCE class LSC’s. Field the (1) Mk.99, RIM-116 RAM (Rolling-Airframe Missile) 21-cell missile launcher for air defense. But, future plans, are to field the Mk. 41VLS w/either the RIM-66 Standard, RIM-67 Standard, RIM-161 Standard III, RIM-174 Extended Range Standard. And even possibly the Israeli BARAK I Surface-to-Air Missile Defense Systems.

          • sentinelfahja

            At a minimum 16 MK41 tubes w/ 32 ESSM, 4 ASROC & 4 ASM.
            plus MK 32 TT, SLQ32v3, 76mm w/ Vulcano. CEAFAR radar as shown on the smaller LM ships w/ SAAB Sea Giraffe acting as VSR. Maybe quad pack MBDA Spear 3’s in the ASM tubes if possible. What do you think?

          • Secundius

            @ sentinelfahja.

            Considering the gun mount is of a modular design, you could also mount the BAE 5-inch (127mm/54 or 65 caliber) Mk. 45 Gun Mount or the Rheinmetall 6.1-inch (155mm/52-caliber) Gun Mount w/the LRLAP round you can extend the firing range 136.8-kilometers.

          • Secundius

            @ sentinelfaja.

            At present there is one Freedom class LCS in existance, with a possibility of another two variants of the baseline class in the planning stages in consideration. I don’t know if any other variations of the Independence class LCS are in the works. But, in my opinion (for what’s its worth) if they enlarge the Independence class, and have the outer hulls mounted on a propulsion nacelles or SWATH design. And use the center hull as a submarine detection and offensive weapons hull. Swap the Bofors 2.24-inch (57mm/70-caliber Mk.110 Gun Mount for the Oto Melara 3-inch (76.2mm/62-caliber) Mk. 75 Gun Mount in either 80 or 120-rpm configuration. It would probably make a pretty good Frigate class.

          • Bhess

            I’d take a Fletcher over a LCS anyday if it’s about survivability. Aluminum and Kevlar burn.

          • Bhess

            Those men were so gallant that day.
            Met a crew member of the Kallinin Bay a few years back. I saw him with his ships cap on and I kind of chased him down like a celebrity. I gushed my admiration for him and his fellows for what they did off Samar. He was little surprised that I even knew about the battle. He seemed pleased after we talked. I know for a lot of us buffs, we’ll always hold those men in high esteem.

          • Secundius

            @ Bhess.

            Only one person compromised Captain Ernest Evans at the Battle of Leyte Gulf in WW2, and that was Admiral William “Bull” Halsey, Jr. Who went off on a wild goose chase looking for the Imperial Japanese Northern Fleet. To get his fifth-star posted on his shoulder boards and earn him the Medal of Honor, and a place in history.

          • sentinelfahja

            There is a lot of history that we must impart to the next generation. A lot of lessons paid for in blood that should not be repeated. Our tech gets better, but we are still just human.

          • Secundius

            @ sentinelfahja.

            The problem with the Navy in general, is not getting what THEY want, its getting what THEY DON’T want. And having to make do, and making it do thing’s, it was never meant too do. Its like Congress trying to design a Race Horse and coming up with a Camel, instead.

    • OLD GUY

      Green water Mine detection and clearing is now the job of USVs and UUVs.

      • Secundius

        @ OLD GUY>

        Yeah, but guess what Mobile Transportation Platform their going to use too get them there!

  • Rob C.

    I’m glad their at least their aware of the probem and stating they have them then denying it. Hopefully best logical steps can be made. I think the LCS need be two designs with two branches of missions verses two designs handling all the missions. Modules aren’t up to snuff yet. Specialy when the limited crews are getting over worked.

  • Secundius

    Initial LCS, Mission Modules for the FREEDOM class.

    LCS, Mine Warfare “Spiral Alpha Modules”:
    (1) Unmanned Surface Vehicle.
    (1) Unmanned Surface Sweep System.
    (2) Remote Multi-Mission Vehicle.
    (1) Organic Air and Surface Influence System.
    (1) Airborne Mine Neutralization System.
    (1) Airborne Laser Mine Detection System.
    (3) AQS-20, Mine Hunting Sonar.
    (1) Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System.
    (1) Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis System.

    LCS, Surface Warfare “Spiral Alpha Modules”:
    (4) Non-Line-of-Sight Missile Launching System.
    (2) Mk.44 1.18-inch (30x173mm) Bushmaster II/Swivel Wolves* autocannon Gun System.

    LCS, Anti-Submarine Warfare “Spiral Alpha Modules”:
    (1) Unmanned Surface Vehicle.
    (2) Remote Multi-Mission Vehicle.
    (1) USV, Towed Array System.
    (1) USV, Dipping Sonar.
    (1) Multi-Static Off-Board Source.
    (1) Multi-Function Towed Array.
    (1) Remote Towed Active Source.

    (*) Swivel Wolves, refer to any gun caliber of 1.25-inches (31.75mm), or less.