Home » News & Analysis » Navy Assessment: LCS Fort Worth Needed 90 Percent Less Maintenance than Freedom in First 3 Months of Deployment


Navy Assessment: LCS Fort Worth Needed 90 Percent Less Maintenance than Freedom in First 3 Months of Deployment

The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) conducts patrols in international waters of the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands as the People's Liberation Army-Navy [PLA(N)] guided-missile frigate Yancheng (FFG 546) transits close behind on May 11, 2015. US Navy photo.

The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) conducts patrols in international waters of the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands as the People’s Liberation Army-Navy [PLA(N)] guided-missile frigate Yancheng (FFG 546) transits close behind on May 11, 2015. US Navy photo.

The Littoral Combat Ship USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) is six months into its 16-month deployment and requiring an order of magnitude fewer hours of corrective maintenance than its predecessor, USS Freedom (LCS-1).

In Fort Worth’s first 90 days deployed, the ship was underway for 53 days – 11 more days than planned. In contrast, Freedom was underway only 36 days in a similar period, according to an internal Navy assessment of Fort Worth’s early performance obtained by USNI News.

The second ship surpassed its expected underway days when it skipped a restricted maintenance availability and delayed a preventative maintenance availability to participate in the search and rescue efforts for Air Asia Flight 8501 in January.

Fort Worth also had fewer casualty reports than Freedom – 39 total, compared to 44, and zero of the most severe Category 4 (CAT 4) casualty reports.

The real difference between the two deployments, though, is in corrective maintenance needs. Fort Worth required just 396 man hours of corrective maintenance in three months – less than a tenth of the 4,200 man hours of corrective maintenance Freedom needed. Forth Worth required just one stop for corrective maintenance, which was performed during its preventative maintenance availability, whereas Freedom had to stop operations and perform corrective maintenance in four separate occasions.

“Technical adjustments, training improvements, and operational changes have given operational commander confidence to extend Fort Worth’s area of operations and to delay maintenance when required for operational tasking,” the document notes.

USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) 90-day performance compared to USS Freedom (LCS-1)

USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) 90-day performance compared to USS Freedom (LCS-1)

The extended area of operations the document refers to was made possible by a “maintenance in a box” concept the Navy tested in the spring. Program Executive Officer for Littoral Combat Ships Rear Adm. Brian Antonio told USNI News in April that the Navy pre-staged two trailers in Sasebo, Japan – one with all the parts the ship and its mission package might require, and one with the tooling the maintenance workers would need to perform the work away from the main LCS hub in Singapore.

“One of the feedbacks we got back from the fleet with Freedom was that her legs weren’t very long, in that every 25 days or so she needed to come back to Singapore to get a maintenance availability – which means you can only go a certain number of days out, and its’ a big ocean,” Antonio said in the April interview.

Freedom will begin a selected restricted availability in San Diego next week, in preparation to replace Fort Worth when it returns in March 2016, USNI News understands. Lockheed Martin won a $10.3 million contract modification to complete the dry-docking availability, which includes maintenance, modifications and upgrades, the Defense Department announced in April. The work should be complete by October.

Fort Worth also just conducted a crew swap last week, with LCS Crew 102 departing San Diego for Singapore to relieve LCS Crew 103. Detachment 4 Surface Warfare Mission Package crew and Detachment 3 from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 35 deployed too for the next approximately four months of the deployment. The LCS ships are manned under a 3-2-1 model – three crews will support two ships, one of which will always be deployed.

  • Tony

    ““One of the feedbacks we got back from the fleet with Freedom
    was that her legs weren’t very long, in that every 25 days or so she
    needed to come back to Singapore to get a maintenance availability –
    which means you can only go a certain number of days out, and its’ a big
    ocean,” Antonio said in the April interview.”

    Why did you need “feedback from the fleet” to figure this out? This is a design feature!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And yes, FORT WORTH has demonstrated that you can defer planned maintenance without the ship blowing up, but after 50 years of the PMS system you would think we would know that, too!

  • Curtis Conway

    I doubt I will ever be satisfied with any reports about the LCS platform. However, it will help to smooth some feathers when the Type Commander, and the cognizant Battle Force Commander sing praises with specific (meaningful) accomplishments . . . and even all of that will not increase the vessels survivability (watertight integrity and compartmentalization), or lack of a meaningful multi-layered defense for something characterized as a frigate replacement. John Paul Jones is rolling over in his grave thinking about the firepower available to this platform, compared to local potential adversaries, although I think he would be very impressed with the speed.

    It would be nice to see the old paint job (Conan the Barbarian, or basic Invasion Stripes) back on this class of vessel. At least it would scare the natives, and they would look dangerous. What was it one of the writers used recently . . . ” make them more war-like” [rolling my eyes] LOL.

    • PolicyWonk

      So – the Navy is delighted that they managed to get a new ship to act like a ship. However, in the commercial world, this isn’t accomplishing much (the bar is set mighty low). The only significance is that the appalling complexity of the propulsion plant is what makes this “article” news-worthy.

      However, none of this can possibly distract from the facts: Adm. Greenert himself admitted in an interview with Breaking Defense that the Littoral Combat Ship wasn’t designed to venture into the littorals to engage in combat; LCS doesn’t meet the US Navy’s minimum – Level 1 – survivability standard, as was revealed in Defense Industry Daily (this was a primary reason the LCS program office used to justify the skyrocketing cost of the LCS sea-frames); and, the classification change from the supposedly “confusing” designation of LCS to the “less confusing” FF (Fast Frigate) fails to address the lack of protection and armament (the improvements the navy intends to make are marginal – at best).

      In short, all the navy is doing is cheering a floating corporate welfare program that offers the smallest benefit to US national security at a staggering cost to the taxpayers.

      Next!

    • James B.

      I think they should be rocking the WWI or WWII sparkle camo patterns on all ships that visit the Persian Gulf; the camo was effective against visual targeting, so it would complicate a small boat attack. Also, anything that convinces the Iranians we are either deadly serious or crazy will work in our favor.

      • Secundius

        @ Jame B.

        I suspect that Camouflaging a ships in this DAY OF AGE of Anti-Shipping Missiles, is about a USEFUL as Turning-Off the Lights with Night Vision Goggles On…

      • Curtis Conway

        I remember in Jr. High reading a book with lots of pictures of WWI Dazzle Camouflage. It also showed the WWII invasion stripes. With the advent of Periscope Detection, tracking, and targeting, the ability to confuse the visual will be more important than ever. Of course underwater detection, tracking, and targeting algorithms (computerized MTI algorithms on steroids) have improved exponentially too. However, anything that will help confuse that solution will be helpful for those on the surface trying to survive the attack.

        • Secundius

          @ Curtis Conway.

          The two best Dazzle Camouflager’s were Norman Wilkenson (British) and Abbott Handerson Thayer (American), unfortunately both deceased. But the Best 21st Century Dazzle Camouflager is Tobias Rehberger (German), that made a Computer-Aided Camouflage Pattern as a WW1 Commemorate “Dazzle Pattern” on HMS President in 2014. Worth Checking Out: Tobias Rehberger covers HMS President in “dazzle” ( w w w . dezeen . com / 2014 / . . . / tobias – rehberger – hms – president ). Sorry, it’s the only way I can do this without being Reditted…

          • old guy

            Please see above

        • old guy

          Camouflage and “stealth” shapes and decorations are now totally USELESS, due the ability of satellites to track and identify every ship in the ocean and use GPS targeting . That is why “Old Undersides” (DD1000) is such a disaster.

          • Curtis Conway

            In the modern battle space one can no longer hide, and probably couldn’t since post RORSAT times. So . . . the question is, now that they know where (LCS) is, and shoot a lot of things at them, what will (LCS) do, when everything arrives?

            NON-Rotating 3D sensor & (at least) ESSM, and hopefully, SM-2 + ESSM for defense in depth. But I grow tired of saying it since 2012. I could not sleep nights on the USS Belknap (CG-26) because I knew if the ‘Bubble ever went up’ 48 Charlie would be jammed (e.g., no SM engagements) and we were all dead! On USS Ticonderoga (SPY-1A), I slept very well. We even tracked space ships coming out of the Saragassa Sea (tongue in cheek). When AMDR FINALLY comes out, to put anything less than a 9-module AN/SPY-6(v) AMDR Radar on board anything will do that platform a disservice. Can’t hide from SPY any version. One school and parts set , hardware, software, and operational policy for the fleet. One ALWAYS knows what is going on Line of Sight. If I never see another rotating radar antenna on a combat ship underway it will be too soon. Put SPQ-9B in a dome! I’m so disappointing in the US Navy and industry as a whole. I thought we would be a whole lot further down the road by now. We should have been here technologically in the 90’s.

          • Secundius

            @ old guy.

            Like First Basemen of the Chicago Cubs Mark Grace, said in 2012: “If you’re not cheating, your not trying hard enough”…

          • Greg Lof

            Not every country has access to satellite tracking. And conventional camouflage has proven useful against those dependent on the good old Mk 1 eyeballs.

      • Secundius

        @ James B.

        The project was called “Yehudi” in WW2, “Diffused Lighting Camouflage” and there was Operation Archery headed by Lord Louis Mountbatten, who created Mountbatten/Plymouth Pink. When employed on ship’s render them Invisible to the Human Eye under current Lighting Conditions…

  • airider

    I guess the bigger question we should be asking is if this is a metric we’ve ever measured any of our other primary ships-of-the-line by before. Positive progress yes based on reformulating the maintenance schedule, but did we ever measure this with any of the FFG’s previously?,,,or DDGs, CGs, L-class, CV, CVN, SSN or SSBNs?

    If so, what were the results?

  • Ctrot

    Yeah!!! iI doesn’t break as much now! It’s still under armed and under protected.

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  • Jack Hearst

    Multi roll Service Drone Intergration!

  • Secundius

    I guess when USS Forth Worth encounters a Category 5 and Survives the Ordeal, let’s see then if she can make that claim…

    • old guy

      Sorry, but so can a spar buoy or a channel marker. So what?

  • omegatalon

    There’s always the risk of additional problems for the first of concept of anything as one has to wonder what type of issues the space shuttle Enterprise might have experienced if NASA had decided to make it operational.

    • Secundius

      @ omegatalon.

      Enterprise was a “Winged-Testbed”, it was Never meant to go into Space. Or they would have built her to go into Space. NASA, just wanted it see if a BRICK with Wings could actually fly…

  • James B.

    I suppose it is an (underwhelming) achievement that these ships can survive peacetime operations.

    • Secundius

      @ James B.

      The OHP class has been in service since 1977, PLEASE be free to point out, how many have been SUNK in PEACETIME Operations…

      • James B.

        My point is that surviving a peacetime cruise without breaking down is less than the bare minimum we expect from our warships.

        • Secundius

          @ James B.

          Ship’s BREAK DOWN for Whatever Reasons. I DON’T recall, Warranties were EVER ISSUED when this ships were Launched…

    • sferrin

      Want some cheese with that?

  • You would expect that. More experience with a ship the better the reliability and maintenance. One big question. How much of the maintenance and preventive maintenance was done by the ship’s company and not by the train of contractors. Still even with the improved figures the LCS is a ship with a puny gun (needs a 76mm), a minimal combat system (not the same as the other class of LCS’s), and not too much in the area of self defense from air or sub-surface. As Mr. Conway, wrote in his post, John Paul Jones is turning in his grave…”give me a fast ship for I intend to go in harms way”, OK we got a fast ship, and it can go into harms way, BUT can it survive?
    I say NO but I hope all the upgrades to a frigate, actually more like a corvett, make me wrong. The crews are working their collective butts off while the contractors are rake in the bucks. How many of these LC, C for crappy, S’s are we building? I say about twenty too many. MMCS(SW)(SS) USN Ret.

  • Tawse

    So the USS Fort Worth in the above picture has no offensive weapons against the Yancheng (FFG 546) Chinese frigate that is tailing it?

    • Secundius

      @ Tawse.

      Aren’t you forgetting the RAM launcher Located Just Above the Hangar…

    • old guy

      The Ft. Worth(less) could not have been better named. I will, happily, supply the paint to add my modification to its name.

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  • Vitonio

    I’m always happy when my boat does not break.

  • turkey

    I wonder if anybody that matters ever reads these posts. I like to bitch and moan like everyone, but is anyone listening?

    • Secundius

      @ turkey.

      Probably as much as when the F-4 Phantom II was introduced into service…

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