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Document: McCain, Reed Letter to Navy Leaders on the Littoral Combat Ship Program

The following is a Feb. 5, 2016 letter from Senate Armed Services Committee chair Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and ranking member Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) to U.S. Navy leadership on the Littoral Combat Ship program. 

  • Rick Lewis

    The Senators’ letter basically breaks down to:

    1 The LCS was intended to combat three threats: mines, submarines, and surface vessels. Seven years (and billions of dollars) after the first vessel was delivered, none of the three capabilities has been tested, let alone demonstrated, and won’t be for some time.

    2 The LCS is being re-designated as a frigate, but it is not close to being able to keep up with a carrier strike group. It has had serious structural problems, bringing the prospect of this into question.

    Left unsaid is that the LCS was intended to be a Littoral Combat Ship, meaning close to shore in shallow water. Yet what was delivered (and oddly, accepted) was a ship twice as large as would suit that role. It seems the LCS is being re-disgnated a frigate because it’s too big to do its job, so they’re shoe-horning it into a role for which it may never be suited. It isn’t even designed for air defense.

    There are several actual littoral combat ships on the market today, for example the Korvett 130 from Germany, the Saar 5 from Israel, the Ada from Turkey, or the Visby from Sweden. Any of these would have been good choices. They all outperform the LCS, are smaller, are much cheaper, and are available today. The Visby is the only one with current anti-mine capability though, so the others would need modification… but so does the LCS.

    Perhaps we should stop building the LCS and get twice a hundred of these fine ships to do the job. We could pick one up today for about two or three times the price of an F-35. Israel and Turkey plan to buy F-35s anyway, so maybe we could just do a swap.

  • LewCypher

    Senior leadership is just learning what the rest of us already knew…….. LCS stands for Little Crappy Ship.

  • fxreyman

    I may just be a casual reader of the USNI, but I have serious concerns about how our tax dollars are being spent. Especially on useless programs like the LCS. As far as I am concerned, cancel the LCS program!

    What gets me is that even while many in Congress do not support the LCS, what happens? Each year more LCS’s are purchased. If McCain and Reed and their counterparts in the house had any guts at all, they would defund the program or better yet pull all the pursestrings on the entire program.

    Do it now while only a few are actually being built. The ones that have been budgeted for cancel. Take that money and build additional Flight IIA Burkes, or better yet if they are concerned about the costs of Flight IIA’s then build a stripped down Burke without Aegis.

    Consider this: A destroyer with the main gun armament of the Zumwalt with missile tubes to launch Tomahawks, Asroc, and ESSM’s. You do not need Aegis to perform that mission. Yes the ships have a deeper draft, but then again the LCS can not even begin to come anywhere close to any capability that a non-Aegis Burke could provide.

    • Curtis Conway

      This is a practical demonstration of ‘Lack of Leadership’. That idea about stripping down Aegis has some merit, but one wants to keep commonality with the fleet equipment and actually reduce cost overall with larger MYP purchases of equipment. The Short Burke is a good idea. If we build less, then the National Security Cutter with its 50 year hull, and Arctic capability, should be up-gunned for the task. We need something that can ‘Show the Flag’ when steaming independently, and will be a meaningful asset to Battle Force Commanders when they join the Battle Group. Right now the LCS is a net negative to every place it goes . . . if it actually gets there, then the crew breaths a sigh of relief as the lines go across.

      The FFG-X to LCS Program is the exact illustration that Dwight David Eisenhower told us to look out for . . . and our administrations (both sides of the aisle) and Navy leadership bought it, much to the detriment of our US Navy’s current force posture, with ‘too few platforms’ to maintain meaningful and capable presence. In this inter-connected international economy the driving forces are not just regional. Ask any Billionaire. Our leadership is supposed to be smarter than that. I hadn’t realized how much of an impact the current administration has had on the capabilities of our Intelligence Agencies.