From the Congressional Research Service Sept. 27, 2013 Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) report:The LCS program has become controversial due to past cost growth, design and construction issues with the lead ships built to each design, concerns over the ships’ ability to withstand battle damage, and concerns over whether the ships are sufficiently armed and would be able to perform their stated missions effectively. Some observers, citing one or more of these issues, have proposed truncating the LCS program to either 24 ships (i.e., stopping procurement after procuring all the ships covered under the two block buy contracts) or to some other number well short of 52. Other observers have proposed down selecting to a single LCS design (i.e., continuing production of only one of the two designs) after the 24th ship. Read More
The Navy is considering increasing the crew sizes for both variants of the Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) by 2015, according to a July report obtained by USNI News based on the early data from the current deployment of USS Freedom (LCS-1) and tests aboard USS Independence (LCS-2).
The report — prepared on the Office of Chief of Operations (OPNAV) surface warfare office — recommends the Navy add accommodations to berth 98 crewmembers ahead of a 2014 study that could increase the crew’s size. Read More
From the July 2013 Office of Chief of Operations (OPNAV) report — Littoral Combat Ship Manning Concepts:
Based on current analysis and lessons learned from FREEDOM’s deployment, LCS will be configured to support up to 98 total personnel, to include core crew, Mission Package detachment, and aviation detachment. Projected costs to modify ships to accommodate this manning level are $600,000 for LCS-3 and $700,000 for LCS-4. Projected design and engineering costs for future ships are estimated at $6 million for both LCS variants. The costs to modified follow on ships will be addressed in future budgets.
Manpower and workload analyses of FREEDOM’s eight-month deployment to the Western Pacific will continue through her deployment. Finally,Navy Manpower Analysis Center will conduct a study aboard FREEDOM in early 2014 to support the development of the LCS Ship’s Manpower Document (SMD) which will further codify manpower requirements and policies and validate crew size, crew rotation construct, and associated shore manpower required to operate and support the LCS class. Read More
A long-awaited report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says “a pause is needed,” in the Navy’s acquisition of both variants of the littoral combat ship (LCS) until the service proves it has overcome the myriad difficulties it has had fielding the ships and their three proposed mission packages, which allow the ships to act as either minesweepers, sub-hunters, or close-to-shore combatants. Read More
Congress will likely hold hearings on the state of the Littoral Combat Ship program, Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) , the chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection forces, told reporters on Tuesday.
“We are going to do some intensive oversight of this program, which will include hearings,” Forbes said in a report from Reuters.
The hearings are prompted by an anticipated Government Accountability Office report that will likely advise Congress to slow down acquisition of the program so the ships and the planned mission packages.
“I have felt that LCS had bumps in the road but it was moving. The only thing that’s really raising this flag is what this GAO report may or may not say,” Forbes said.
Excerpts of a draft GAO LCS report have appeared in several press outlets. The draft recommends Congress slow down acquisition of the ships and the mission packages pending further study.
“The apparent disconnect between the LCS acquisition strategy and the needs of the end user suggests that a pause is needed,” a draft of the GAO report was quoted in a Friday Bloomberg story. “Congress is in a position to slow funding… pending the results of the technical studies that are already underway.”
The U.S. Navy currently plans to acquire 52 LCS hulls to round out the low-end of the Navy’s surface combatant roster. The two hulls being built — Lockheed Martin’s Freedom-class and Austal USA’s Independence-class — are part of a dual acquisition strategy formulated in 2010. After a fierce competition between Austal’s aluminum trimaran and Lockheed’s steel mono-hull design, the Navy elected to buy both versions in a deal for 20 ships with an estimated value of $8.9 billion.
In addition to four ships the Navy funded outside of the 2010 deal, the Navy’s current plan is to buy 24 ships with both hulls.
In November, Vice Adm. Tom Copeman, commander of U.S. Surface Forces, sent a classified memo to Navy leadership that advised narrowing down to a single LCS design modified to carry more weapons than the current version or an entirely new class of ship.
Christopher P. Cavas’ much-discussed March, 18 Defense News story about the recommendations of Vice Adm. Tom Copeman revealed that even one of the Navy’s top surface warriors has become something of a littoral combat ship (LCS) skeptic, given his reported willingness to recommend a major course correction for the program.
The Navy’s LCS never has had a shortage of skeptics, but for a long time they seemed to be a minority in the surface-warfare world, on the outside looking in. Until now. Read More