Home » Budget Industry » Opinion: Course Corrections in the Littoral Combat Ship Program


Opinion: Course Corrections in the Littoral Combat Ship Program

USS Coronado (LCS-4) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam during Rim of the Pacific 2016. US Navy Photo

USS Coronado (LCS-4) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam during Rim of the Pacific 2016. US Navy Photo

The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program, like the rest of the Navy, has been in the midst of a large turn since the end of the last decade when the Navy began to come to grips with a new global strategic situation.

The post-Cold War era where the only threats expected were rogue states such as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and non-state terrorist actors is receding into the past. A new world of peer competitors, strong regional opponents and powerful terrorist rump states now confronts the United States and its allies. Core U.S. interests such as freedom of the seas for the free flow of trade, however, remain constants even as the United States changes course to meet new strategic challenges.

The Navy has also been changing course in terms of the operational construct for the LCS. While the recent adjustments announced in the LCS’s training program, modularity, and operational organization may seem revolutionary, they merely reinforce the ship’s core mission elements. The bulk of the LCS force will be forward-deployed in support of operational commander tasking. There will still be “crew swaps” in order to keep the ships forward deployed for longer periods. Modules may remain with one ship for years at a time, but can be exchanged if operational requirements demand. Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work always suggested that, “After fleet operators get their hands on the ships and refine old operational and logistical support concepts and develop new ones, there is little reason to think the ship will not be an important contributor to twenty-first century Total Force Battle Network operations.” Changes to the LCS program announced by Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden, commander, Naval Surface Force, are just part of that fleet operator adjustment.

The new LCS squadron organization of three ships forward deployed and one located in the continental United States (CONUS) is not substantively different from the previous 3-2-1 organization for the class. 3-2-1 was designed to ensure,

The baseline LCSs are to be deployed for 16 months at a time, and crews maintain a greater percentage of the baseline LCS force in deployed status at any given time than would be possible under the traditional approach of maintaining one crew for each baseline LCS and deploying baseline LCSs for six to eight months at a time.”

The new, nominal squadron organization of three squadrons of four ships on each coast amounts to 18 forward deployed LCSs, six CONUS-based ships for training and four dedicated training units (LCS-1 to LCS-4) still ensures 65 percent of the regular LCS force remains forward deployed at all times. The 10 CONUS-based ships can in Rowden’s words, “Could deploy overseas or be used as training platforms. The intention is for the four testing ships to operate from their respective homeports, but it may be possible to deploy them in a surge, for training, or for testing. Each testing ship will be manned by a single crew and be commanded by an experienced post-command LCS CO.”

USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) participates in ship maneuvering exercises in the Java Sea on Aug. 9, 2015

USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) participates in ship maneuvering exercises in the Java Sea on Aug. 9, 2015

The change from the 3-2-1 crewing concept (3 crews, 2 ships and 1 ship always deployed) was seen in the CNO review language as perhaps too cumbersome to execute and reduced notions of equipment ownership among the rotating crews. Cultural change of this magnitude is not something the Navy readily embraces. The service experimented with rotation crews in the last decade with uncertain results. The new blue and gold rotation is designed to provide, “a better blend of ownership, stability, and increased training for each crew.”

Rotational crewing was and remains a requirement in order to achieve the desired percentage of forward deployed LCS units. Single crew LCS ships would need to deploy from the United States across oceanic spaces, a process known to degrade a ship’s life expectancy over time. Permanently basing LCS units forward, similar to ships of the U.S. 7th Fleet, would require additional housing and facilities for dependents of those crews. Long, single-ship deployments have weakened morale in past decades and led to reduced retention of sailors subjected to these log periods away from home.

Despite some reports to the contrary, the changes to the LCS program do not increase the ship’s crew size. According to Rowden, “The crew size does not actually increase; the ship’s crews and mission module detachments are fused. The ship’s original crew of 50 sailors will be fused with about 20 sailors from the mission package detachment.” An additional group of about 20 sailors from the aviation detachment rounds out a complete LCS complement of 90.

Modularity is likewise not now in a “dead on arrival” condition, but has moved to a higher level of decision. Rowden stated, “While the modularity of the LCS sea frame remains the same under the new concept, the reality of the operational environment is that a decision to change mission modules would happen at a strategic level, likely in response to a progressive, long-term threat.” The modular concept embedded within the LCS sea frame remains well founded in terms of upgrades. The report states, “LCS has a well-defined interface control document (ICD) that facilitates easier upgrades and capability additions based on the ship and mission package modularity. The ability of LCS to easily remove obsolete weapons and sensors and replace them with upgrades will be much quicker and more efficient than the upgrade process on legacy surface ships.”

The changes described in the CNO’s 60-day review of the LCS program are the right course correction to further ease the introduction of the class into the Fleet. The core LCS missions of a high rate of forward deployment and minimum-manned ships have not been changed as a result of this review. Modules can still be changed at the strategic decision-making level. The Navy still needs upwards of 52 small combatants and the LCS is still designated to fulfill that requirement. LCS is still on course to enter the Fleet in large numbers in support of increased forward presence and warfighting capability. LCS critics should perhaps consider all these points before claiming any sort of “victory.”

  • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

    It must be nice to be able to ignore unpleasant facts which don’t support your sales pitch. For instance:

    No mention of LCSs atrocious demonstrated reliability and habit of breaking down.

    Nor the fact that none of the planned mission modules are ready – other than a very underwhelming SUW module.

    Nor the fact that SASC is telling Navy that it’s assumption of 50% Ao is likely unachievable by LCS. Meaning LCS won’t get anywhere near the promised deployment rate.

    Facts are such inconvenient things..

    • Lazarus

      You seem to disagree with everything I have to say regarding the LCS program. Why don’t you write your own article on LCS and submit it to USNI, Proceedings, or other other outlet.

    • Lazarus

      LCS odd variant engineering issues (to date) have been software and crew-based. LCS even variant issues have caused delays but more due to weather (Coronado) and a unique Panama canal transit (Montgomery). Some changes may be needed but it is unclear as of yet what may be required.

      The SUW module is very good with two additional 30mm mounts, Hellfire missiles (due later this year) and possibly a more permanent cruise missile armament. They were always meant to be changeable. They were delayed by failures in key systems; NLOS, MH-60R-based MiW systems and RMS among several. The current US acquisition and test and evaluation system is very unfriendly to experimental programs that do not neatly fit into the slow, costly, PPBE system.

      The Senate Armed Services committee has proclaimed that a direct FFG 7 successor with the same capabilities should be the heir to LCS. Not sure where the source of that is. Medium-sized warships like the FFG 7 are too expensive for the limited capabilities they bring. LCS brings little by itself buy much more in a distributed group.

      • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

        Laz, you have an amazing ability to ignore facts and attack organizations. In this case: a double whammy on both COTF and SASC.

        The recent SASC letter said nothing about an FFG. It said among other things that Navy is likely overstating LCS Ao by a factor of two. (Ao 0.25 vs. 0.50).

        If true – this is telling. An LCS which spends 3/4 of its time pierside doesn’t really “buy” the Navy much deployment time.

        Putting the efficacy of Distributed Lethality aside: I am highly suspect of the ability of an LCS squadron to actually deploy and maintain the numbers of ships needed for “distributed groups”. Not with the proven track record of LCS reliability, maintainability and availability (RMA).

        Hughe’s concept requires significant offensive power, numbers and dispersion. LCS lacks the first. And it’s extremely poor RMA and reliance on shore support kills any chance at two and three.

        • Lazarus

          The recent SASC letter specifically requested an LCS follow-on that could provide limited air defense to escorted ships. That is lifted directly from the FFG 7 capabilities list. The SASC is specifically asking for an FFG 7 clone to follow LCS. What “analysis” determined that?

          Again, you don’t like anything I have to say about LCS. Great! Publish your own article and explain what the answer should be.

          • James B.

            The Navy is still trying to get a transoceanic combatant funded, so the SASC is demanding actual capability.

            If you want the LCS to be acceptable at limited capability, it needs to be smaller and cheaper, which will require accepting shorter range and a simpler powerplant.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            I’ve published already. My article on Information Dissemination stated that the Small Surface Combatant program needed to get its analytical house in order. This program is flawed at its analytical roots.

            Instead of looking for answers – think more about the question. What do we actually need out of a Small Surface Combatant? Is LCS the best answer?

          • Lazarus

            Ahh, it is you cynical Mustard gun! One ID article is not enough!

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            I’ll always take logic and fact-based arguments over dogma and faith.
            Which I’ve slowly come to realize is really all you have. In your mind – LCS will work because it has to work!

            You really don’t have much in the way of facts do you? And that causes you choose to ignore or discredit any that don’t fit your chosen narrative. And if you cannot discredit the facts, than you attack the organization.

            It’s been a while since I’ve taken historical methods – but is that what they are teaching in the university nowadays?

            A couple words of advice from my old Chief – since I’m guessing you didn’t have the advantage of AWC Stetley’s counsel.

            1. Just because you really want something to work doesn’t mean it will work.

            2. Anything can be made to look like it will work in PowerPoint.

            3. Program offices exist first and foremost to further their programs. Delivering capability is a distant second.

          • Lazarus

            Your P-3 wisdom does not apply to the surface fleet.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            You’re right. The P-3 could actually do the job it was bought to do from day 1. And a whole lot it wasn’t designed to do.

            A very poor comparison to the LCS.

          • Lazarus

            The P-3 never had to push through the post-1986 Acquisition and test and evaluation system.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            The P-8 did. And it did fine.

            And actually the later versions of P-3 were manufactured in ’90s. There were also continuing my modernizations.

          • Lazarus

            Of course it did; it was simple, incremental improvement on its predecessor. No spiral development; a known commercial airframe. It doesn’t have a terribly different mission than the P-3. It is exactly the kind of system that PPBE and DOT&E were designed around.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Laz. You really seem to be catching on!

            Yes, the current acquisition system quite rightly punishes high-risk behavior. To believe those rules don’t apply to LCS is naïve in the extreme. Although I guess it might’ve been possible if LCS wasn’t such an abject failure out the gate.

            As for P-8A.
            – Low-risk, incremental improvement.
            – Well defined mission set and requirements.
            – No reliance on unproven technologies or CONOPS.
            – Result is success. Not an out of the park. but a good start.

            You are wrong about P-8A not undertaking a spiral development program. Look it up in DOT&E reports. It’s fielding in multiple increments.

            I imagine you probably aren’t familiar with how a spiral development concept actually works because unlike LCS it is actually working.

          • Lazarus

            P-8 spiral development (I will assume) is handled within specific availabilities that are their own ACAT program of record. LCS, with constantly developing/changing mission packages, does not work in this system. Neat availability periods as programs in their own right may have worked in the Cold War, but they do little to promote innovation or technological advance in the 2nd decade of the 21st century. PPBE and DOT&E are relics of the Cold War. Can you imagine them trying to build an iphone? It would never get out of testing. PPBE and DOT&E should be replaced by organizations more suited to 21st century needs.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Yup. LCS certainly does not work!

            You clearly know nothing about the P-8A Incremental update. Sigh. Why assume when you can actually check?

            Seriously do some research. DOT&E and SARs do not bite.

          • Lazarus

            And you never come back. Sad….And haven’t published anywhere else, unless I am missing something.

      • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

        Re: SUW module.

        Two 30mm guns, an optically guided 57mm and some Hellfires are a poor load out for a vessel of its size. And a poor match for current threats.

        Yes, LCS-2 class can carry a small number of Harpoons. Modern FACs can carry many more ASCMs. Debatable if LCS-1 class can carry any at all.

        The one test-firing of a Harpoon was a miss. A highly PAOd miss is still a miss. The ship broke down a few days after. Not exactly an awe inspiring SUW capability; but definitely par for the course.

        • Lazarus

          The same arguments were once made about the DD 963 class (not much armament for its size.) LCS is not a FAC. Such a ship does not fit in the USN OOB as it is too small to be inherently deployable. Test firings sometimes miss. Maybe there was a problem with the weapon. I have been in three RIMPAC exercises and misses happen.

          Their have been no fleet complaints with the 57mm or 30mm guns. In any case, they were never intended to be the main armament of the LCS any more than the 76mm gun was the “main” armament of the FFG.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Laz, I hate to break it to you, but just because you want something to work doesn’t mean it actually does work. Also there is no Easter Bunny.

            I won’t belabor the FAC argument, but my point was the enemy is fielding lots of FACs with 10% the displacement and much larger missile armament than LCS. Not that we needed to field FACs. We don’t. But we need to be cognizant that LCS puts on the wrong side of the cost-imposition curve.

            LCS-4 shot one Harpoon in about the most benign environment you can imagine and missed. P-Hit = 0.00. Your response is “tests sometimes miss.” Yes… and that is why in normal acquisition programs we test something more than one time before we claim it works. We don’t assume something works just because we want it to.

            And we certainly don’t test it in a major exercise and prove to the world (friends and allies) that it doesn’t work. That was/is severely retarded.

            As to the baseline SUW package – here’s what DOT&E has to say (2015). I guess our definitions of “very good” differ. My caps added. I imagine you will now attack DOT&E because you have no facts to stand on.

            “While equipped with the Increment 2 SUW mission package, LCS 4 participated in three engagements with small swarms of Fast Inshore Attack Craft (FIAC). Although all of the attacking boats were ultimately defeated, an attacker managed to penetrate the “keep-out” range in two of the three events. In all three events, however, the ship expended a large quantity of ammunition from the seaframes 57 mm gun and the two mission package 30 mm guns, while contending with repeated network communication faults that disrupted the flow of navigation information to the gun systems as well as azimuth elevation inhibits that disrupted or prevented establishing fire solutions on the targets. LCS 4s INABILITY TO DEFEAT THIS RELATIVELY MODEST THREAT BEYOND THE “KEEP –OUT” RANGE ROUTINELY UNDER TEST CONDITIONS RAISES QUESTIONS ABOUT ITS ABILITY TO DEAL WITH MORE CHALLENGING THREATS THAT COULD BE PRESENT IN AN OPERATIONAL ENVIRONMENT.”

          • Lazarus

            DOt&E tests are canned scenarlos that are not reflective of the current threat. The small boat swarm would take out any one ship, large or small, in a bolt from the blue attack. It is also not fair to base the whole evaluation of a program on one canned test scenario.

            LCS was never intended to be a super-fac. It’s real value is the modular space that can carry any number of automated systems. I think you are determined to dress a 21st century warship in Cold War clothing.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Yes – if anything the real world threat is probably worse. Which is exactly what DOT&E said!

            Regardless, one actual counter-FAC scenario run three times is infinitely better than faith. Which is all you have, Laz…

            I think you are determined to push the “I believe” button on LCS until your fingernails fall off. How sad.

          • Lazarus

            I think you are investing too much faith in so-called “operational” analysis that is not being evaluated by Navy experts. The Navy’s experts are within N81, and they are not raising the sort of complaints you suggest.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Laz. The more I talk to you – the more I am convinced you really do not have any idea of what you are talking about.

            You really don’t know the difference between ops analysis and operational test do you? Your approach to defining and validating requirements seems to be faith based. LCS will work… because it has to work!

            LCS is the punchline for nearly every joke I’ve heard in OPNAV. It’s a poster child of what not do in acquisition. But your mileage may vary.

          • Lazarus

            The Acquisition and Operational Test and Evaluation system is a poster child itself for how not to promote innovation and advanced technology.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            If LCS is what is meant by “innovation” – then DOT&E should be commended.

            It should be noted that none of the advanced technologies that were “advertised” in the first increment of LCS modules have come to fruition.

            There was no technology development or risk mitigation. The LCS program bet on non-existent, unproven technologies. And lost.

        • Tomcat

          How is a self guided missile missing it’s target any fault of the shooter? lol The P-hit of a Harpoon is based solely on the Harpoon itself.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            It’s not a self-guided missile. It needs an aim-point.

            To shoot one missile, miss, and then claim success is a bit sketchy.

            To do so at an exercise is embarrassing.

            To do so at an exercise in which you invited allies is ridiculous.

            To do so at an exercise in which you invited the PRC is absolutely retarded.

          • Tomcat

            it missed on terminal. It’s active radar homing. The miss had nothing to do with the LCS.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Citation? Last I read they didn’t know why it missed.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Crickets.

  • PolicyWonk

    Unfortunately, the author doesn’t address the problems inherent in both LCD classes – reliability being a major concern. Nor has the lack of room for growth, or crew protection been addressed. LCS was never designed to be a combat platform, and that’s according to adm. jonathan greenert.

    Fixing the crewing and logistics is great, but unless they deal directly and honestly with the problems inherent in the sea frames: it’ll get our sailors to the fight, but its chances of getting them home will be compromised.

    • Lazarus

      The 1200 psi steam plants of the Cold War Navy had some significant reliability issues in their early years. In the case of LCS, the Navy has never had a CODAG plant in anything but an experimental status. Sadly, the nation’s defense industry and the DoD acquisition and test and evaluation system are hostile to experimental ships. Industry cannot afford to stand up a whole production line for just 2 small ships that don’t pay much. The Acquisition system does not like spiral development unless it fits into neat ACAT programming phases. A system with more experimental “churn” as with LCS tends to become mired within the system and subject to endless “canned” tests. The real answer should have been to make the first 4 LCS experimental units a decade ago and let the fleet (NOT DOT&E) evaluate their effectiveness.

      • PolicyWonk

        Well, originally, the LCS concept was derived from the “street fighter” concept, for a littoral combatant that was heavily armed/protected, fast, $90M per sea-frame, specifically intended to go into harms way, and able to dish out a severe beating to whatever it came into contact with.

        There were experiments using souped-up catamarans (adapted ferries), that tested a number of the concepts.

        But when you think about LCS, if you understand the fundamentals of engineering, if the idea is to have a small crew – a very complex propulsion system is a very bad idea. If you want a combat platform, it must be protected, have room for growth (for current and future weapons), and built to take a beating. If you want it to be fast as well, then you now have to pay the piper w/r/t the laws of physics, etc.

        What is called the “littoral combat ship” deals with those trade offs in a way that all but completely negates the “street fighter” concept. Common sense was quickly jettisoned, the second the blue-water bunch got involved, because they wanted a frigate and took the money from “street fighter”, giving birth to something that will cannot fulfill its designation. The staffing plan, and complexity of the propulsion systems (either sea-frame, but the Independence class is simpler), make the deployment numbers they are shooting for seem laughable (LCS is supposed to be deployed more than a Burke – and the Burke has not only more sailors for its size, but a much simpler propulsion system).

        It certainly didn’t take DOT&E to determine that, as the Navy’s own IG report was equally scathing (as was OMB’s, etc.). Like you, I would prefer to be able to leave these things to the navy – but I’ve seen little evidence that indicates this would be a successful path.

        The best path, is to reform DoD acquisition practices from scratch, to prevent the “franken-ship” thing from happening in the first place (let alone any number of other crazy things the service branches have attempted in the recent past).

        JMHO.

        • Lazarus

          The post-Cold War idea of ship design; Space, Weight, Power and Cooling Margins (SWaPC) has served the nation well when the “next” design in the cue was a moderate improvement on the last. The current Acquisition and Test and Evaluation system is good at incremental replacements but does poorly with promoting anything revolutionary. Streetfighter as designed was never accepted by the surface navy, as the idea of an “expendable” ship was anathema to SWO’s. LCS grew in size and survivability in order to assuage surface warfare concerns. The high speed requirement however never left the concept. It may have been the cause of problems, but it can also be exploited to good use. Chasing pirates, rapidly re-positioning away from missile launch points or racing to intercept a helo low on fuel are things a 40+ knot ship can do, where a standard ship making 28 knots may not.

          The manning issue is something created in the minds of big ship people who cannot fathom that a small crew can run the equipment and manage the programs a larger does. I served on a PC and an MCM and we did fine with small crews. Extra support ashore is needed, but again, complaints about that concept come largely from big ship veterans with no experience of such operations.

          I do not remember seeing any Navy IG report critical of LCS. When was that written?

          • PolicyWonk

            The Navy IG Report was one or two years ago, last January. The article I read was on DoD Buzz (possibly still in the archives).

            Street fighter, as a concept, was never intended to be used (directly) by the blue water navy – so it makes sense they wouldn’t find it acceptable. They wanted a replacement for the OHP’s, but the funds were made available for something else “street fighter”.

            It is astonishing that what was supposed to be a “littoral” combat platform intended to go into harms way didn’t have even involve NECC (ironic, isn’t it?). The result was that the only things that survived the “street fighter” concept was the high speed, the fact that it floats, and the term “littoral” in its name.

            But I have to admit, that it was former CNO Adm. Jonathan Greenert who declared in an interview on Breaking Defense, that the littoral combat ship (as it is still sold as) was “never intended to venture into the littorals to engage in combat…”, stunned me.

            Now we have something ill-suited for the littorals, ill-suited for blue water, never designed to fight, and hyper expensive, especially given the small ROI.

          • Lazarus

            “Big Navy” wanted all big ships. It did not want LCS but ADM Clark thought the Navy needed a small combatant as well. ADM Greenert said LCS was not expected to engage in high end combat. The same thing was said about the FFG 7. Ship missions change. No one expected to put ASCM’s on LCS (or other combatants) when LCS was designed.

            No surface combatant is really suited to operate in a heavily defended littoral, but not all littorals are alike. LCS would have been very useful to the counter-piracy effort off the Somali littoral.

          • PolicyWonk

            I understand that ship missions change, but in the case with LCS those changes were supposed to be handled via easily swapped mission packages. Now the quick changing of mission packages has been largely jettisoned.

            “Big Navy” were not the addressees of the funding allocated for “street fighter” – and NECC was. “Big navy” – those who hijacked the funding – should be investigated for defrauding the taxpayers, because the end result is simply unacceptable, because now we’re stuck with floating white elephants that are poorly suited for either purpose.

            Between the FFG’s and LCS, there is a fundamental difference: the FFG was built to the navy’s level-2 survivability standard, where LCS (in current or future versions) will never meet even the navy’s level-1 survivability standard (article in archives in Defense Industry Daily).

            The compartmentalization isn’t there, and the crews aren’t large enough to perform anything other than minor damage control (given the super-high maintenance of the ship, their ability to perform in battle is already compromised, and they haven’t even fired a shot). The “expendable” aspect of LCS quickly loses its attractiveness when YOU are the one that’s being expended, or when the sea-frame costs $450M (+/-), and add in the costs of the mission package (this is when you achieve cost parity with out allies high-end frigates) is added in, which adds hundreds of millions of dollars to the price tag.

            LCS was never intended to confront a real naval opponent or have any kind of combat role of significance, wasn’t built to address that requirement, and therefore at its core simply isn’t appropriate to fulfill that role. We would’ve been far better off to build a lightly armed utility ship to the navy’s level-2 standard (with room for growth), so that we could up-arm them if necessary. Instead, we painted ourselves into a corner, and merely (via the magic of marketing) re-designating the sea-frame into something it was never designed for doesn’t solve the problem, unless you’re only looking at paper, instead of the reality.

            The design trade-offs chosen were ill-considered, to be generous.

          • Lazarus

            Allied frigates are DDG equivalents, not really “frigates.” The FFG 7 is something of an anomaly in that it had many capabilities more in line with Allied destroyers in the 1970’s-1990’s. Warship requirements change over time. LCS is being adapted to present threats. Yes, it was designed for much more low-end missions when first presented, but is being up-armed with additional weapons.

            Streetfighter may have been expendable, but LCS was never intended as such. It might be abandoned if damaged beyond the ability of the crew to withdraw it to a friendly port. There is a difference in those two ideas.

            The Navy did not want a large frigate like the FFG 7 in 2003 and does not want such a ship today, or it would have campaigned for one. Not every ship can be a “fortress at sea.” LCS still represents the best choice for a low-end ship employed in offensive, distributive tactics. A conventional frigate is not heavily armed enough to be the fortress and too expensive for the lower-end missions. In this, LCS still represents a good financial choice.

            I respectfully suggest that you are applying Cold War force structure ideas to naval combat approaching the 3rd decade of the 21st century. The ASCM threat has grown to the point where a ship must either be the fortress (CG or DDG) or seek refuge is distributive ops (LCS).

          • PolicyWonk

            Hmm. You might want to re-read my comments, because I’ve tried to be careful when discussing what is called the “littoral combat ship”, w/r/t what it should have been – what I’ve been saying is that what we got is far less than ideal for either blue water or littoral operations.

            I’m not a concerned about the blue-water battles the SW crowd has wet dreams about fighting against the Russkies. This is about the fights we’re far more likely to encounter in the littorals – and this is lamentably our reality.

            Every sea-going combatant (and some land based ones as well) have several major trade-offs that have be to considered/made by the designers: speed, protection, and firepower. If what we needed (as the ONR stipulated) was a combat platform optimized for littoral operations – note that the specification issued at the time did not include mine-sweeping, anti-submarine, and/or flight operations. ONR tagged it with a $93M price tag (as a guideline), which strongly implies something more along the lines of a beefed-up Cyclone variant (more protection, firepower, etc.), to patrol in regions where a Burke (a level-3 warship) would be largely wasted and less effective.

            What we got is speed, but very little firepower or protection. If we needed a frigate then we should have built one. The need and capability gap for a true littoral combat platform was clear and that’s what the funding was allocated for – but that this point we still don’t have one (outside of the venerable Cyclone class, or Mark VI’s, etc.).

            My thoughts, for this topic, are centered on a littoral capability that still doesn’t exist, while the effort to transmogrify “street fighter” into a frigate is a miserable failure simply because it cannot defend itself against a naval opponent of similar tonnage. A ship that is doing a presence mission or is out on patrol should have a reasonable offensive/defensive capability – and it is my position that LCS fails to address that case. If a Burke is required to protect a squadron of LCS’s in even a moderate threat environment – then where’s the value?

            LCS is brutally expensive compared to what it was supposed to initially accomplish, and given the lack of room for growth and the construction of the sea-frame, will never be a decent alternative to a frigate. We have a new class of ships that will be compromised in a fight regardless of where that fight is – and we don’t always get to choose how or when our adversaries will attack us (they do get a vote in that matter).

            LCS is only inexpensive when compared to a Burke or Zumwalt – but given what we got for the money spent its horribly expensive, because unlike the Burke or Zumwalt – and that comparison is disingenuous anyway because it was never designed to be a warship.

            We have a platform that floats; but, we can only hope that one day they will be reliable enough to be considered a useful SHIP (i.e. capable of transiting the ocean to get from one place to another). But given the expense, this is setting the bar very low indeed.

            I expect better from our Navy.

            Cheers.

          • Lazarus

            What ONR document are you referencing? LCS is not “brutishly” expensive to other USN ships. I think you are not addressing the change in threat situation that has occurred between 2003 and the present. You don’t seem to understand that growth on LCS is managed through the modular space and not directly on the sea frame. LCS is not a “fortress at sea” if such a thing even exists. It was designed more as a low end ship like the MCM or PC. It is getting more extensive armament to allow it to perform other missions. The Navy has never desired an FFG-7 replacement; not in 2003 and not now, for the reasons I have suggested. I think you should read beyond mere headlines and take a look at some of the CRS material by Ron O’Rourke and CBO material by Eric Labs. They have some very effective critiques of the LCS program that acknowledge past navy mistakes but suggest ways ahead to make LCS work.

            If you want to be disappointed in something, look to the DoD acquisition and test and evaluation system. They are the real source of failure in the process.

          • Curtis Conway

            LCS is not a “fortress at sea” . . . you got that right! I wonder how sailors on LCS feel when they come to realize they have little or no defense against that which is fired at them? Expendable ships dishonor those who sail on them. The United States Navy has tried not to do that since Old Ironsides was built. Now the US Navy does it deliberately ? . . and sends them in ‘Harm’s Way’. Despicable!

          • PolicyWonk

            I was able to locate a clear report on what came out of the ONR’s 2001 specification for what “street fighter” was supposed to be. I’m sure its still out there (but I don’t necessarily write down everything I find – I tend to go hunting when the research becomes necessary).

            And the threats that changed are well known, and I’ve been following these issues (military and foreign policy) for decades.

            The point is simple – regardless of however you might portray what LCS has become due to the changing threats – we completely failed to address the threats the “street fighter” concept was intended to counter.

            The sub-hunting threat has been out there for decades (it never went away), as has mine warfare (the USN has openly neglected this for decades). Neglect on the part of the navy is not an excuse to botch what could’ve proven to be a game-changer in the littorals.

            The problem of combating swarms on small boats in the littorals supposedly being resolved by a ship that costs the taxpayers over $600M (for the toothless LCS + its SUW “mission package”) is preposterous. LCS itself is in danger of being swarmed and significantly damaged in battle by the very threats that Adm Greenert himself said it was never designed to fight, and draws too much water to be terribly useful in the littorals anyway.

            When he declared that the “littoral combat ship” was “never intended to venture into the littorals to engage in combat” (interview available on Breaking Defense), what other conclusion can a reasonable person come to? Seriously – you can’t make this stuff up…

            If the navy had no desire to build a frigate – the blue water crowd would’ve ignored “street fighter” funds and handed it off to NECC. But they didn’t do that – and that’s what their ACTIONS indicate. “Low end” (given the cost and the mission package) is not in the LCS’s wheelhouse – it is tremendously expensive – and thats why the Saudi’s and Israeli’s all said it was far too expensive given the small ROI (the Saudis have since contracted for a larger, and considerably superior variant, at a much better price point) and walked away.

            The LCS program office went and unobtanium-plated an admirals water-skiing barge, and openly deceived the HoR and taxpayers to get the funding for “street fighter”, or what is deceitfully called the “littoral combat ship”, because they couldn’t get a budget for a “ultra-complex utility ship that goes wicked fast for no discernible purpose”.

            BTW – the sea-frame in LCS lingo denotes what is included prior to the addition of the mission package. Significant additions of armor or arming is seriously limited, unless the navy decides they’re going to rid themselves of the high speed requirement they’ve never justified. And that sea-frame (or hull, if you prefer) is not built to navy design standards: both classes had to have a legal waiver granted because it is a violation of federal law to commission a ship into the US navy that isn’t built to navy survivability standards. LCS is not, and never will be.

            I do wish this wasn’t the case. But all I see in what is called the “littoral combat ship” is a corporate welfare program – because that this point we don’t even have a working ship – let alone combat platform.

          • Lazarus

            Streetfighter’s mission disappeared with the end of the US hyperpower moment around 2008. Fighting small boats in the littoral is a job for aircraft or armed helicopters rather than small warships. Don’t bring a knife to a knife fight; bring a sniper rifle and kill the knife-carrying folks before they see you.

            Streetfighter was never going to work anyway as there is no distributive logistics system to service a large force of deployed small craft. Tenders are big targets that will need to be escorted. They also tend to get left behind if the theater they are serving is compromised. That is what happened to the Asiatic Fleet’s tenders in 1941.

            There is no law, by the way, on “survivability” standards and such would really be impossible as a lot more than science and engineering goes into their determination. They are really just general guidelines. In any case, no ship under 10k tons displacement and 600 feet in length has proven terribly “survivable” (historically) when confronted with heavy-ship killers; whether Japanese “long lance” torpedoes or modern, supersonic ASCM’s. One hit is a likely mission kill and two hits probably means a vessel loss. Warships of all size can survive cumulative shell hot damage over time, but our opponents’ most prolific weapons are big ASCM’s and big torpedoes and mines. LCS’ best “survivablity” tenet is dispersal and network operations.

          • PolicyWonk

            Streetfighter’s mission disappeared with the end of the US hyperpower moment around 2008. Fighting small boats in the littoral is a job for aircraft or armed helicopters rather than small warships.
            =============================================
            Um… Events over the past years (let alone recent events) in the Persian Gulf would seem to indicate your statement is erroneous.

            Aircraft and armed choppers don’t have the same loitering capability as a small ship, and if this were the case, the USN wouldn’t have sent the Cyclone fleet into the Persian Gulf (because obviously, the “littoral combat ship” wasn’t and isn’t ready for prime time).

            The USN has always had methods at their disposal to send smaller ships and patrol craft to other continents – this is hardly new (how do you think we moved the Cyclones to the Persian Gulf?). Not everything the USN uses has the requirement to be self deployable from CONUS (to suggest otherwise is simply absurd). Tenders are often staged in safe waters and are typically well protected – just like our fleet oilers, ammunition ships, and RO-RO’s, etc (or are you suggesting we give them up as well?). By your logic – we should rid ourselves of anything that might be a target – which is the entire fleet.

            And the navy disagrees with your statement anyway, because they’re all-in when it comes to building the new classes of expeditionary ships, such as the USNS Puller and Montford Point, etc.

            A large ship isn’t always the answer – and in the case with LCS it is simply ill suited to littoral operations for many reasons outlined on these pages. Alternatively, it is also ill suited for blue water and arctic operations.

            Cheers.

          • AncientSubHunter

            Steve, wanted to get your thoughts on the process you’ve been going through to get your PhD in history. Also, if you feel, at this point, that it has been worth it.

            I’m considering maritime history (although, among other things, I do want to research and write about the history of aviation ASW from just after WW2 through the end of the Cold War – my period in the field).

            Clearly, this is an excellent time to witness the evolution of world naval forces and maritime communities.

            I’m interested to get your take…I’ve already gotten the “don’t do it” from a brief email exchange with Iain Ballantyne…so I’d appreciate your perspective.

            Thanks for your time.

          • Lazarus

            Thanks. It is going very well. I think you can still email me via the link on the informationdissemination site. Let me know if you cannot and we’ll find another way to communicate.

          • AncientSubHunter

            Thank you, sir. However, no luck…won’t let me complete the link with your email at informationdissemination.

            Let me know of another route.

          • Lazarus

            Try me via Linkedin

          • AncientSubHunter

            I’ll just make this easy…created an email for you to contact me at so we can talk: [email protected]

            Appreciate your time.

          • Curtis Conway

            Big Navy? Lazarus, have you EVER ridden a Surface Combatant at sea, gone to the Arctic, or even witnessed a missile exercise? The US Army has ‘Big Army’, and the Special Operators and they are VERY different and function to different standards. One you can turn your back on reliable all the time, the other ? . . well perhaps most of the time. As most Special Operators will tell you.

            Everyone underway in the US Navy has to be able to not only do their job, but do it on something that is floating somewhere full of things that want to eat them. There IS NO EQUIVALENT for Land Lubbers, and therefore they have no concept, and do not understand.

          • Lazarus

            I will look for that report. Thanks!

      • UKExpat

        The real answer should have been never to have constructed these ships in the first place as the LCS concept is completely dysfunctional. The designers need to go back to basics and sort out their major fundamental” problem which is lack of sea worthiness. The massive emphasis on speed is an ineffective waist of time The French and the Italian navies tried this option just prior to WW2 and built a lot of large destroyers, which professed to have top speeds of 45+ knots. This speed was gained, as in the case of the LCS’s, at the critical expense of range, weapons, armour and most of all sea worthiness. These ships were not very successful. The LCS designers seem to have forgotten that the littoral zone is not a place with constant good weather and calm seas, the LZ can and often does, have weather just as fierce as open ocean weather. In allied naval exercises during the 1950’s even the mighty Idaho Class battleships sailing in a Littoral Zone, were forced to heave too due to the poor weather conditions, whilst some other more sea worthy vessels were able to carry on This problem is not caused by new technology/ propulsion systems, it is caused by the LCS design’s inability to cope with speed in poor weather. The current LCS design is, without doubt very basically flawed in this respect. It is so obvious that any experienced seaman would feel like the little boy who shouted out “Where is the Kings clothes?” in the fairy story “The Kings new clothes” The answer is always to build sea worthy vessels irrespective of whether or not they are for use in the Littoral Zone or the Open Ocean. Speed and performance need to be balanced.

    • Tony

      I think survivability is right up there on the list as well. If the ship can’t take a hit and keep fighting while trying to save it’s crew and itself, that is a major problem. Silkworm and Exocet missiles are old tech but still highly effective especially against a virtually un armored ship like the LCS ships.

  • Ed L

    plenty of room on the flight deck for weapons systems. does it really really need a helo hanger and such a large flight deck. one would think a Vert Rep spot would be more suitable for a combat vessel.

  • RobM1981

    “The post-Cold War era where the only threats expected were rogue states such as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and non-state terrorist actors is receding into the past. ”

    When did they stop teaching history at the Academy?

    The fact is, this was never true. Why would anyone believe that only “small, regional threats” were the new norm? Perhaps because they could profit by this obviously flawed belief?

    China was arming long before the LCS was sold as an idea. Russia never disarmed. This was true then, and it’s true now. Not “more true,” but just true.

    If the LCS was a good ship, with a heavy punch, nobody would complain about it. But it’s unreliable, underarmed, and too small to up-gun. A pure boondoggle that was never supposed to be exposed.

    Alas, it has been exposed. This corvette-sized vessel isn’t even armed as well as a corvette should be. Weak in ASW, ASuW, and AAW. Unreliable. Unable to aid the fleet; unable to bring any significant capabilities on its own when acting independently. And, again and again we say: unreliable.

    The new direction should be cancellation. Stop throwing good money after bad. Find a new and better hull, and arm it like a man’o’war.

    • Lazarus

      LCS was conceived at the height of the US “unipolar moment.” This is not a flawed concept. As a historian I can say that the literature of the time did not suggest the PRC or a revanchist Russia as majot opponents.

      LCS was never meant to be a direct successor to the FFG 7. Not every ship can be a fortress at sea. The ability of the FFG to serve in such a role was severely compromised by the mod to late 1990’s. As a former combat systems officers on an FFG 7 in the late 1990’s, I can testify to this declining capability. Such a balanced ship today is terribly susceptible to ASCM attack. Only a DDG or larger ship is going to have a good chance of defeating a first missile salvo attack.

      LCS was not meant to “aid” the fleet. It’s modular spaces are supposed to provide specific capabilities. The real “punch” of LCS remains in the now empty modular spaces where UAV’s unmanned surface and other units may be held and launched.

      The solution you demand is simply not affordable (a new frigate class would cost over $1b or more) and does not provide the punch or survivability needed for that price.

      • KillerClownfromOuterspace

        I’d beg to differ on concept. The idea was disposable/non capital ship. The concept was anything but by the time is was fully conceptualized. I really can’t imagine any commander putting any navy ship in that position for a minor threat that the LCS is capable of defeating. The operational concept put the LCS within mortar range of the beach.

        I saw the “out of the box” thinking decades ago. It was ok for think tanks but the minute they put it into hardware, I knew there’d be trouble.

        • Lazarus

          The idea that LCS would be “within mortar range of the beach,” went away before 2008 and was replaced by the concept of littoral defense of the sea base (within 25-50nm of the beach.) Agree that the original ideas was the disposable “street fighter” but the concept evolved to a much larger, self deployable ship with extensive helo facilities better suited to global US needs.

          • KillerClownfromOuterspace

            I agree about the helo facilities but only on the evens. I think LCS 2 has unique abilities that can be used just not in the intended roles.

          • PolicyWonk

            “Agree that the original ideas was the disposable “street fighter” but
            the concept evolved to a much larger, self deplorable ship…”
            =======================================
            Well, if we were looking for a “self-deplorable” ship – mission accomplished! ;-P

            However, as someone who has major concerns regarding the state of our navy, national security, and whether the taxpayers are getting value for their investment: I would rather see an end to throwing good money after bad.

          • Lazarus

            Spell correct systems can be a bear.

      • Curtis Conway

        You Sir make excuses, for faulty logic, on its face. One can revise HiStory all you want but His Story will continue on His timeline. Revelations has not changed.

        • DaSaint

          Can we all agree that a clean-sheet concept can not be fielded until 2024? Are we all ok with that, and if we are, what should we do in the interim?

          • Curtis Conway

            The NSC in numbers in the near term to get ship count up with an MYP competed between two yards, with an incremental improvement program based upon yard time needed, and a prioritized systemic capability increase. The all-ocean NSC already provides quite a capability that the LCS can’t touch. Going 40 knots in the North Pacific, North Atlantic, or Arctic is usually not in the equation anyway. One of those improvements in the future should be a propulsion upgrade for more power and fuel efficiency, which could also include USCG NSCs to help get down the propulsion unit cost with a larger buy, and provide our Coast Guard brethren an upgrade without development costs, just purchase and installation costs.
            The Mk29 GMLS should seriously be looked at if a Mk41 VLS is just too heavy, power hungry and expensive. If that propulsion upgrade included an electric permanent magnet motor then we have more electrical power when at GQ driven by the gas turbines, and get them diesels out of there.
            But in my humble opinion, the most important upgrade will be the non-rotating GaN 3D AESA main sensor (9-RMA array X (4) on the AN/SPY-6(V) with a total of 37 modules providing SPY-1 capability at a fraction of the weight and power), and bringing all that extra capability that radar represents . . . like every track is a Fire Control track, and so much more, particularly in ESM and other areas.
            Clean sheet is NOT the only option. We need jobs over the next decade anyway. Grow that economy buddy-roe.

          • Curtis Conway

            If you are just bent to a Clean Sheet design then you really should check out my Facebook page for Aegis Guided Missile Frigate. Click on the main picture and you will see my take on a spec for a directed energy frigate with missiles, and that neat radar. If you go to About: Long Description you will see more detail.

          • Curtis Conway

            Pursuant to Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson’s desire to no longer look at A2/AD (particularly the AD part) as a ‘fait accompli’ and forcing us to look at everything near an adversaries coast as a defensive equation, our new little frigate will be the most survivable in the truest sense of the US Navy Regulation’s definition (watertight integrity and compartmentalization) AND we will add the new 4160v energy generation and integrated power distribution system with excess capacity right up front, and room for improvement for the future. ‘Directed Energy’ (DE) is what will change the equation. Reliable, efficient, and supportable gas turbine technology should be our primary direction of migration on the platform for maximum availability (100% when lit-off), and a foot print that does not grow, but will increase in capability with time via improvements (LM500 SSGTG generating 4 MW eventually replaced with a future GE38 SSGTG generating just under 10 MW) for the future, more powerful, DE weapons. Capacity of the integrated power system should be built in, or easily up-gradable with new cabling.

            Combat system orientation should be developed and improved on the Passive side in the IR/EM spectrum, and passive sonar (VDS & Passive Array) can be on most of the platforms. Collocation/colimation with weapons should be inherent and primary in the base design via location of EO/IR sensors w/r/t DE weapons (adjacent to, or directly above). The primary sensor should be a GaN non-rotating 3D radar which has a huge passive (EW) capability and its active side is less detectable, and can be used in modes that will make it almost invisible (AN/SPY-6(V) with 9-RMA array faces).

            What does this do for us? We can relieve the Greyhounds of the Navy (DDGs) of escort duty and release them to go on OFFENSE and range farther from the Battle Group. Keep the Cruiser near by for AAW Commander, and the Aegis Guided Missile Frigate will be the new Escort of choice.

            Problems ? . . we have to push this thing through the water faster than 30 knots, so upgrade the propulsion with gas turbines in place of the diesels, and place a Permanent Magnet Motor where the current LM2500 Prime Mover resides. Reduce the hangar size to single wide, and use the provided outboard space for SSGTGs or ESSM launchers. If Mk41 VLS, or a MK29 can go forward, then the SSGTG provide greater power generation growth space in the saved waist hangar space. The NSC is already a 40 year hull so improve that, and you have something.

            It will probably cost a $ Billion, but with an MYP competed between two yard, I think we can keep the costs down. That’s my vision.

          • Curtis Conway

            I feel like Themistocles trying to build the Athenian fleet years before the Battle of Salamis. The US Navy needs real multi-warfare all-ocean (particularly Arctic capable Ice-hardened hull) frigates. I will accept the requirement for the LCS/FF with its shallow draft and [in my estimation] lack of the ability to defend itself in a modern battlespace. However, the presence requirement has not gone away in the COCOMs, particularly where LCS/FF cannot comfortably go and be expected to survive, and we need something with teeth, staying power, and can patrol all those oceans/seas with a lower O&M budget number.

            whether the Navy, in response to China’s maritime A2/AD capabilities, should shift over time to a more distributed fleet architecture.

            In order to accomplish ‘distributed fleet anything’ there must be a force available with which to do so with.

            As for the ‘international security environment’ sometimes known as the unipolar moment, truly free countries assume responsibility for themselves, and establish security relationships with their neighbors and allies. It’s like the difference between ‘citizens’ and ‘subjects’. The United States assists other countries in assuming their own security and developing their core capabilities to preserve the integrity of their sovereign territories. There is no coercion involved in the process, so they can take it or leave it. Most of the time countries just do not concern themselves with such issues until a threat to their sovereignty is mounted, usually by a neighbor for whatever purpose, usually resources. The neighbor will apply pressure, make veiled threats, and exercise coercion in various arenas.

    • B.J. Blazkowicz

      Small wars mean bigger profit. There is less money in fighting a peer competitor who can actually cause damage and dish out casualties .

    • muzzleloader

      You sir, have given the best opinion piece I have ever heard concerning the debacle called the LCS. You said it all. well done.

  • Navy believer

    The LCS appears to have been dreamed up by NAVSEA headquarters engineers with no at-sea or combat experience. A ship that can’t operate in peacetime because of mechanical complexity cannot be expected to operate in a combat environment. I hate the term “sailor-proof,” but this type of ship, and any Navy system, must be engineered to be simple to operate, tolerant of error by operators, and easy to fix and come home with damage.

    • @USS_Fallujah

      I sincerely hope that every member of SC-21 that came up with the CG(X)/DDG-1K/LCS has been frog marched out of the service. The opportunity loss in terms of total hulls is probably at least 30 and if a FFG(X) Perry replacement program had developed independently you’d probably have double the number of hulls compared to the LCS and each with significantly greater combat capability and less cost.

      • Lazarus

        A direct Perry replacement was evaluated by the Congressional Budget office as costing $750m in 2003. Such a ship would be over $1b or more in the present if built by purely commercial builders such as those in the US, UK and Australia. Everyone involved in the conception of SC21 is long out of service. In any case, that family of ships was appropriate to its time (the high point of the American unipolar moment.) The real problem is the US Defense Acquisition and Test and Evaluation system that cannot seem to produce any complex system in less than 15 years.

        • @USS_Fallujah

          The last half of that we can agree on, if you can’t produce a system before it’s mission requirements have become obsolete….

    • Marc Apter

      The LCS was design by power point presentations. The Burke Class was designed by NAVSEA HQ. Which one looks like a warship?

      • Lazarus

        LCS was also designed by NAVSEA and is managed by PEO LCS which is within the NAVSEA command.

        • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

          Sorry Laz – not even close. If you’re going to be an unabashed supporter, at least get your facts straight.

          NAVSEA wrote the performance specification. They didn’t design anything. NAVSEA has been out of the ship design business for 20+ years.

          LM and GM built to the LCS design specification. Or attempted to anyways – since the specification has proven ridiculous, conflicting and unachievable.

          My (albeit limited) understanding of NAVSEA was that they were much more involved in the design of Arleigh Burke class (circa 1980). Very different organization 20-30 years ago. They actually did engineering.

          • Lazarus

            Performance requirements are at the core of ship engineering. The Navy certainly made mistakes in the design of LCS. It put too many immature systems and concepts on two new hull forms. That part of the LCS design process should not be repeated.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Agreed. Requirements are important. God knows they were screwed up with LCS. However – setting requirements is not the same as design. NAVSEA gapped that functional capability years ago.

            One could argue that “in-house” expertise in ship design might’ve led LCS to discover that what it was asking contractors was impossible or at the very least had very high risk of failure/delay.

            That’s just my theory based on what I’ve seen in my job.

          • Lazarus

            There was a belief that industry would surmount the obstacles. Industry said it could. Both LCS designs were based on know, successful civilian powerplants. Sometimes elements of success in private industry get lost in translation to govt. application.

            Just because something is new/outside some comfort limits does not mean that it cannot be made to work. The CODAG installations in LCS probably need some additional analysis to determine which subsystems/parts are more prone to failure than others. That is something NAVSEA can do in house.

            Even the best design on paper/computer sees problems in real world application. The first 4 LCS should have been experimental units from the start to allow the fleet to work out some of these bugs. Unfortunately, neither the defense industry nor the acquisition is geared to support such experiments. It is too expensive for dedicated defense contractors with small shipyards to set up a whole line for production only to close it after 2 ships. The acquisition system is also geared more for the production of a “final” product rather than an evolving experiment.

            Rowden’s solution represents a good step forward. We’ll have to see how the Navy does in sorting the engineering and additional training issues on both variants.

          • Curtis Conway

            Gentlemen, even if LCS did everything as it was supposed to do, and functioned exactly so, the platform is inappropriate for the modern Blue Water Battle Space in which it must function. Not long enough legs. Will be a detriment to the formation due to its frequent visits for UNREP just to keep fuel bunkers to standards. Will have a hard time defending itself if at all, but a pretty good missile/torpedo sponge. THAT is the fundamental truth that is reality TODAY, instead of the future that had been predicted where current Peer adversaries were supposed to be Allies. Plan for the Wore and Hope for the Best. You build special mission purpose craft, its good at that special mission, provided it functions at all.

          • Lazarus

            What requirement calls for a middle-sized large frigate class of ship? You ask for a frigate (long endurance, capable of defending other units), but what mission does that ship have in the 3rd decade of the 21st century? There is no mass of US troops based overseas that must be re-supplied by convoy. Chinese and Russian submarine strength is still but a fraction of Cold War force levels. The AEGIS DDG fleet is much larger and capable than the hodge podge of DDG’s, DD’;s and FFG’s from the late Cold War.

            I think many keep demanding a direct Perry successor just because we used to have one and not in response to any current mission requirements.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            The EUCOM commander has stated publicly that Russian submarine capability/activity calls into question ability to move forces uncontested across Atlantic. If that isn’t a call for a long-range ASW escort, I don’t know what is.

            Of course: GEN Breedlove was never a SWO. So what could he possibly know about the strategic situation in his AOR?

          • Lazarus

            Any activity is an improvement beyond the zero activity that has characterized Russian sub ops since 1991.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            You overlook that US ASW capacity has also atrophied since 1991.
            – Half as many VP squadrons.
            – No VS squadrons (S-3).
            – No ASW frigates.
            – Fewer DDGs.
            – Fewer SURTASS.
            – Fewer SSNs.

            The planned successor (LCS) seems wholly inadequate to the fill the capability gap left by FFG-7. Assuming it is ever deployed…

          • Curtis Conway

            Recipe for failure.

          • Curtis Conway

            You THINK WRONG! Look at the cost of steaming days on station. We have FIVE (5) treaties that we must honor in the Pacific (e.g., the Pacific Pivot). EVERY Unified Commander in COCOMs have testified before congress for several years (most of the last decade) that they do not have enough assets to meet ‘Presence’ requirements. Reality is that ‘when the cop is not on the beat, the bad guys get their day’, which is a version of ‘if the Cats away, the mice will play’, and they have been playing mightily in the vacuum in our absence.

            Maintaining presence with a multi-warfare, all-ocean, Arctic capable frigate is the most cost effective way to replace the now absent FFG-7s, meet that need with a capable small surface combatant that is survivable, and more than replaces the FFG-7s, but more importantly honors our sailors with at least a fighting chance of survival that does not meet my (and others including OPTEV) muster on the LCS (any flavor). The truth is the FFG-7s performed many US Coast Guard missions as well with LEDETs on board due to lack of available Cutters, so what does the Navy & Coast Guard do ? . . REDUCE the number of High Endurance Cutters! WHO is running this insane asylum?

            The US Coast Guard built as close to an FFG-7 replacement that exist in US Armed Forces in the National Security Cutter that embodies 90% of NAVY REGULATION construction with respect to SURVIVABILITY, it just needs a decent GaN, 3D non-rotating AESA main sensor, a decent gun that will be able to handle guided projectiles in the future when they are available, organic ASW weapon (other than just the helo), and some ESSM on board probably in the form of a Mk29 GMLS(V), and we need enough of them to meet COCOM presence requirements in ALL OCEANS when O&M (and OCO) budgets are short. That is another argument for a very efficient Hybrid Electric Drive system, so the commander can stretch his/her fuel, and save his/her gas turbine maintenance time. Higher procurement cost, but lower operational costs. The PRIMARY escort in the Persian Gulf was FFG-7 when they had the Mk13 on board, and the Saudis have stated that the LCS as currently equipped is a non-starter for their Persian Gulf Fleet . . . AND THEY LIVE THERE!!! However, the US Navy knows better and proposes LCS for that mission? Once again, who is running this insane asylum?

            No, every assumption the US Navy has proposed is based upon facts that do not stack up, HiStorically, or in reality, and every time I read how they plan to employ the LCS, and one considers what will happen worse case (Plan for the worse, and hope for the best) our sailors will take it in the shorts . . . if they survive at all. It is one thing having the latest and greatest intel, and ability to see it coming, but when the solution is ‘too far way and you perish’, that solution just doesn’t hack it, particularly when the US Navy decided to build LCS to a lesser standard for watertight integrity & compartmentalization, and ‘like this administration just redefine the term’ to mean its combat capability . . . AND THEN not give them a decent ability to fight the ship and survive. AND Then they take the equipment away form the crew (crew rotation). Once again . . . who is running this insane asylum.

            It does not take a crystal ball to see these things, and a Blind Man can see them, but NOT the Chain of Command in the US Navy!?!?!?!? Engaging supersonic ASCMs coming at you at a maximum of 5 miles with a 25 lb blast fragmentation warhead is . . . well, I invite you to ride the ship for the test, and make sure the target is coming strait at you. I bet you don’t go! I have been there and done that. You only get one shot! No, the US Navy is going to ‘sacrifice our sailors to SAVE A BUCK!’, and they have been planning this for DECADES?!?!?!?! And you have confirmed that fact with every comment you have made. There should be legal responsibility and culpability held here on those responsible, particularly if we loose any LCS with the loss of all hands.

            I am ASHAMED of this US Navy we have today. They just stated that they no longer will refer to ratings, rather address them as Seaman, Petty Officer and Chief. Well . . . when you have an engineering casualty, or a problem with the combat system, you will need MORE THAN JUST a Seaman, Petty Officer, or Chief . . . or you could die! Once again . . . who is running this insane asylum?

    • Curtis Conway

      AND then they swap crews on them. Does Robert McNamara penny pinching budgeteers come to mind?

      • Lazarus

        The reason for crew swaps is that the defense budget is bare and the Navy needs to think creatively to maintain numbers of deployed ships. McNamara’s analysts (or certainly their successors) run GAO, DOT&E and other organizations critical of LCS. If you don’t like McNamara, then you should actually be cheering for LCS to succeed.

  • Tony4

    I believe crew size – at least the number of Sailors assigned to core crews – DOES increase. Under 3-2-1 there are 3 core crews for 2 hulls, or 1.5 core crews per hull. Under the new construct there are 2 core crews for 1 hull, or 2 core crews per hull, which is greater than 1.5 core crews per hull. While mission module and aviation det manning does not increase, total core crew numbers DO increase.

    What am I missing?

    I don’t for a minute believe that we have seen the last change to the manning/training/logistic support paradigm for LCS, even though the GAO has already determined that the total ownership cost of LCS is greater than that of FFG-7 – and this change makes it even more expensive.

    • Lazarus

      The Navy does not measure crew strength as you suggest. The individual blue and gold LCS crews now include the core sea frame crew, the mission module crew (which will vary depending on LCS warfare designation) and the helo det (which also varies depending on what aircraft/UAV’s are assigned.)

      GAO is guessing at what LCS will cost based on their experience of the FFG 7. That ship got a significant increase in crew strength back in the Carter admin due to Secretary Brown’s faith in GAO claims that a 180 man crew could not operate the FFG. Neither DoD nor the Navy gave the minimum-manned FFG crew concept a chance to succeed. Why should institutional cowardice be rewarded?

      • Tony4

        The minimally-manned crew concept for FFG-7 didn’t work. I worked on manning/training/HSI for DDG-1000 and with all the automation and training system cuts, coupled with (granted) some traditional myopia, you will see crew size increases with that program as well.

        And total number of crew across the program is absolutely relevant, no matter how the Navy counts it on a per-hull basis: it factors into life-cycle cost. The bet is that LCS can increase A(0) by having multiple crews, but that hasn’t worked out so well: 8 years after commissioning we have had one mini-deployment in the Gulf of Mexico (really a shakedown cruise on steroids), an “R&D” deployment where FREEDOM was broken a good deal of the time, and the FORT WORTH deployment, where the crew broke the ship’s main propulsion plant. Not much A(0) after 8 years, no matter how many crews LCS has…

        The biggest problem is that LCS cannot defeat other warships in battle, it can’t find subs, and it can’t hunt mines – 8 years after the lead ship was commissioned! Insanity! It’s time for all of us to stand up and shout: “The Emperor Has No Clothes!”

        • Tomcat

          The ASW system works just fine. In fact it’s the most potent surface detection system in the Navy (arguably the world). The reason it hasn’t been deployed is because it’s going through a competitive process to shrink it’s size and weight. This is the modular concept working. You can deliver a seaframe and continue to develop the payload without incurring the heavy costs of ripping out old equipment.

          Same goes for SUW. It’s already meeting its anti-piracy role. Then it proved it can handle an Over-the-Horizon ASM (NSM and Harpoon), and now it’s deploying with that. Additionally, since the Army killed NLOS, LCS has tested two different shorter range “swarm engagement” missiles (Griffin, and Longbow). It’s now getting Longbow. Again, this is the modularity concept working to the benefit of the Navy. You could never have done this with the OHPs, and it’s why they served out their later years completely toothless.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            It’s a good ASW module on paper. The problem is that it’s attached to LCS. Which is an incredibly poorly suited ship for ASW. Short range, undermanned and even lacking it’s own torpedoes.

          • Tomcat

            Not on paper, in practice. It’s all been proven aboard LCS.

            And the LCS has great range for ASW. ASW isn’t a mission that requires especially long range (especially for hunting quite diesels like the LCS is intended to do).

            Lastly, you don’t hunt subs with ship launched torpedo. You prosecute with air launched ones (fixed and rotary wing assets). Ship launched torpedo are purely a last ditch self defense system that provides peace of mind with no actual protection.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Yeah. Long range isn’t required for an ASW escort.

            Well, except for WW1.

            Oh and WW2. Atlantic and Pacific.

            And the Cold War.

            And the Falklands…

          • Tomcat

            Different mission. That’s why we don’t use mk50 torpedoes anymore.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Yup – there certainly aren’t long ranges in the North Atlantic or the Pacific.

            Oh wait. Yes there are.

          • Tomcat

            You really don’t understand the hunting quiet diesels in the littorals ASW mission, do you? Different threat, in a different environment,that require different sensors. I’m finished suffering fools for today.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Nope. I do understand it. But it’s not a high priority mission anymore. The submarine threat is open ocean if one believes VADM Foggo and others.

            Littoral ASW is not a particulary smart mission for a ship that has a towed array. Not a really great sensor for the shallow littorals.

            And hunting quiet diesel submarines with any sort of surface ship is a really good way to get killed. Leave it to helos and MPA.

            Good night. Hope you wake up smarter tomorrow.

          • Tomcat

            Leave it to the experts, butkus. Lol Thankfully folks like you aren’t in decision making positions. We’re moving forward with LCS because that’s the smart move.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Well – it is a smart move for contractors. Plenty of overtime in Singapore and Hawaii overhauling broked1ck engines, etc.

            Good move for sailors who get seasick too – since it will hardly ever leave pierside. Or ever be sent in harm’s way for that matter.

            A smart move for the Fleet an the national defense? Not really – based on current performance and capability. And eight years of embarrassing failures.

          • Tomcat

            You’re a pretty sick individual if you think that those of us that support the program don’t do everything we can to make sure the sailors aboard have the best equipment.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Please. I never said you were ill-intentioned. I said the end product being delivered to the fleet is crappy and of little value. There is a difference.

            Unless you’ve been working in NAVSEA for a decade plus – you’re probably not all that responsible for the mess we have today.

            Most of the major and really unrecoverable mistakes were made pre-Milestone A. It’s well documented that the LCS analysis was… well… let’s say lacking.

          • Tomcat

            I’ve been a part of it since before it had a name. And im afraid you’re wrong, the problems we see today are the result of two related key events. The block buy being signed before 1-4 were tested (they were supposed to be prototypes and ultimately have recently been redesignated such), and not going through with the down select.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Wow. So you are part of the problem. Now I feel sort of bad for you.

            The issues you list are symptoms of poor program management. The real problems occurred before LCS even became a program. LCS is that it was an “analytical virgin birth”. Meaning that Navy gundecked or skipped required JCIDS analysis steps prior to going into production

            LCS didn’t do a CBA to figure out whether a new ship was actually needed or whether the required missions could be filled by other platforms. A CBA answers “Do I need to buy something?”

            They also didn’t do an AoA to determine what that new ship should look like, what were the costs, performance trades, whether manning/training CONOPS were feasible, technology risks. An AoA answers “What do I need to buy?”

            As you are well aware, the Navy just started building seaframes and trusted that it would all work out. Do you think it has?

          • Tomcat

            lol I hope you’re joking. What do you think SC21, Seafighter, and Street fighter were for? OPNAV and OSD were there the entire time. We The first four ships we’re supposed to be the final phase of the AoA (trimaran vs semi-planing monohull). The decision to go to fullrate production was made at the congressional level much sooner than was advised.

            And the CBAs were done ad nauseam. The problem the Navy faced, of It’s own volition, was it had too many ships retiring, with desperate capabilities, too quickly. A useless OHP that wasn’t meeting It’s own requirements let alone the Navy’s newest (counter FAC/FIAC). And the Avengers were falling apart, and utterly useless in a large scale MCM scenario. All of this, and they were faced with two numbers from congress. 52 and $230 million. Meanwhile, everyone knew you couldn’t deliver ANY ship for that price, let alone a 3,000 ton one. I still beleive that if there was honesty in the pricing to congress from the start, we wouldn’t be hearing much about it today. But the risk was too high that it wouldn’t get funded at all, and the Navy would shrink even further.

            Suffice to say, I could explain to you reasoning of just about every system and design choice on that program. They all have plenty of documentation behind them as well.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Hmm. I used to just think you were out of touch. Now I know.

            Here’s quote from Ronald O’Rourke (CRS). “Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)/Frigate Program: Background and Issues for Congress.” June 16, 2016.

            “Another oversight issue for Congress concerns the analytical foundation for the Navy’s proposed design for the frigate. Programs with weak analytical foundations can, other things held equal, be at increased risk for experiencing program-execution challenges in later years. The original LCS program arguably had a weakness in its analytical foundation due to a formal, rigorous analysis that was not conducted prior to the announcement of the program’s establishment on November 1, 2001. This weakness may have led to some of the controversy that the program experienced in subsequent years, which in turn formed the backdrop for Secretary of Defense Hagel’s February 24, 2014, announcement of the program’s restructuring. The Navy’s restructured plan for the frigate design may similarly have a weakness in its analytical foundation due to two formal, rigorous analyses that do not appear to have been conducted prior to the announcement of the program’s restructuring.”

          • Lazarus

            You realize of course that Ron’s reports include everything he has said in the past, and are just updates with some new acquisition and test info included. What’s done is done. No one can go back and re-create analysis, and even if they did, it is doubtful that such analysis, conceived over 15 years ago, would be useful in today’s strategic environment. The bosses (SECDEF;s SECNAV’s JROC, CNO’s etc) felt they got enough advice and analysis before moving forward with LCS. They did not want more. End of story.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Except the most recent CRS report indicates LCS-FF team also skipped both CBA and AOA. Doubling down on stupidity so to speak.

            Past is prologue. And I would be willing to bet the current SECDEF wishes the mid-2000s folks had done their analytic homework before jumping in headfirst.

          • Lazarus

            Haven’t you read them? They have said that since at least 2007. SECDEF has significant power to cancel projects. If DoD wanted LCS cancelled, they would have done so by now.

        • Lazarus

          I’m sure you were told that crew sizes will continue to decrease, not increase. Isn’t it up to folks like you to specify what level of expertise (per crew member) is required to meet lower manning requirements?

          Freedom and Fort Worth’s deployments were successful from the perspective of local commanders (CTF-73 and 7th Fleet.)

          The US defeats other forces as a team; not as individual units. LCS’s main battery is the modular space from which it may deploy a number of unmanned systems. It’s more like an aircraft carrier than a surface warship in this capability.

          The problems with multiple programs in getting through the acquisition and test and evaluation system suggest that it “has no clothes” and is in desperate need of reform.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            More programs make it through DOT&E with a few dings than fail in epic manner like LCS does. DOT&Es own reports attest to that.

            Your poor little sunflower is not getting picked on. It just happens to be more screwed up than most programs.

          • Lazarus

            Again, as always, we will have to disagree.

        • Lazarus

          The minimum manning on the FFG 7’s never had a chance to work, as the Carter admin analysis folks (Harold Brown and Bill Perry) chose to follow GAO’s opinion on FFG 7 manning, even through there was not enough data yet to make a call one way or the other. GAO claims to be about keeping costs reasonable, but they also tend to kill any innovative ideas. Had FFG minimum manning been given a chance to work, we might not be having this discussion about LCS manning today.

      • Tony4

        I continue to believe that the total number of sailors assigned to the LCS program goes up when you go from 3-2-1 to B/G, no matter how you count it on a per hull/per module/ per whatever-creative-accounting method you use.

      • Tony4

        Ah, but the Navy PAYS for crew size the way I suggest – which was the whole point in “minimal manning” in the first place.

  • Dan Passaro

    LCS production should stop where it is and be replaced with a real frigate (or corvette design). The current monohull LCS ships should be moduled and dedicated to mine-sweeping and perhaps ASW. The trimaran should be dedicated to special operations, in the form of sea-basing and amphibious assault, perhaps even serving as part of a Special Purpose MAGTF.

    • @USS_Fallujah

      Those ideas to utilize the existing LCS hulls are as good as anything else, it’s all sunk cost at this point. I think instead of more LCS or FFE procurement NavSEa needs to duplicate the LPD for LX(R) program and produce a cut-down DDG-51 that make use of the hot production line at HII & BIW to give us an FFG optimized for ASW, but retaining enough of the DDG’s AAW & SuW capability be survivable and relevant in a peer-to-peer conflict.

      • Lazarus

        That ship would still be over $1 billion and therefore impossible to be built in any numbers.

        • @USS_Fallujah

          I’d expect a price tag of about $1b, perhaps less depending on what the AAW requirement is, but you’d be able to get the ship from design to production at 1/10th the time it will take for FFE, at significantly less cost and end up with a ship with capabilities far outstripping the increase cost per hull. Plus you’ll reduce lifetime costs by leveraging the existing production, maintenance & logistics train of the DDG-51s.
          So yes it will cost more, and you’ll end up with fewer total hulls, but you’ll actually get usable warships, which is a nice bonus.

          • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

            “but you’ll actually get usable warships”

            Stop!
            You are asking for too much!

          • Lazarus

            That can only be bought in such small quantities as to be useless for presence and warfighting

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            How useful is LCS now for presence? Well over half are PMC or NMC.

            As to warfighting – LCS cannot currently support any of its required primary mission areas.

            Eight years and what do we have to show? The mythical LCS nirvana always seems to be just outside the POM cycle.

          • Lazarus

            We have been over this before. In case you missed:
            1) LCS was effectively paused between 2007 and 2009 and had to re-start, making the “8 years and this is all we have” argument weak.
            2) The acquisition and test and evaluation system seems to be stretching out the timelines for any program involving more than a couple innovations. CVN-78, the F-35, the DDG 1000, the LPD-17 and other ACAT-1D programs’ long development to fielding time lines would suggest that the acquisition system is in dire need of overhaul.
            3) The sea frames that have been produced have been mired in a never-ending “operational” test and evaluation that has done little to really evaluate the ships.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            You sound like a mother defending his delinquent kid. It’s the systems fault.

          • Lazarus

            I am out defending a system that I believe will contribute to fleet success. You are an anonymous critic sniping from the sidelines.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            The problem is you are defending and not thinking objectively.

            You cannot separate what you want LCS to be from what it is. Very sad.

          • Lazarus

            I respect that you have a different opinion, but I disagree. I’m sure that I have a much better take on LCS than you. I served on multiple small ships; been a 6 and 6 EOOW, went through various shipyard periods and spent 20+ years as a surface officer. Experience matters and helps to define credibility. You are a former P-3 aviator. Not much surface ship experience unless you were a navigator on a big deck at some point (mid-career P-3 disassociated tour at one point in the past.)

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Laz, I am not all sure you have a better take. You may have access to better info. But you have shown time and again that you cannot separate what you want LCS to be from what data suggests it is.

            Respectfully, what you do is not objective analysis. Ignoring unpleasant facts and promoting PowerPoints as reality is what LM and GD pay people to do.

            I also wouldn’t put too much stock in community experience. Bob Work had zero SWO time and he is a supposed LCS expert!

            A good program can be traced to thorough, objective analysis and sound planning. Ship, sub, airplane, etc. Doesn’t matter. Common sense should prevail. LCS is severely lacking in these areas.

          • Lazarus

            I’m stating my opinion on LCS based on the knowledge that I have researched. You have a different opinion. And there we remain.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            I’m basing my opinion on facts. Yours’ is based on faith. There is a difference.

          • Lazarus

            No, mine is based on strategic and operational requirements that demand a certain number of ship. Yours is a bean counter’s opinion adding up random numbers to make a flawed point.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Laz, You are certainly more the bean counter than I am. Yes, acquiring more LCS will drive the numbers up on N96s Excel spreadsheet.

            But how many of those LCS will actually be able to:
            A. Get underway without breaking down?
            B. Perform their ROC/POE assigned missions?
            C. Contribute meaningfully to war at sea?

            Pop quiz: what proportion of the LCS force is currently (9/30/16) mission capable and ready for tasking? 1 of 8? 2 of 8?

          • Lazarus

            Actually as of today; 6 of 8 fully operational. One (Freedom) still undergoing repairs and one (Fort Worth) underway with degraded propulsion capabilities. Sounds like any class of the surface force on any given day. You would know that Mustard, if you had been a surface office.

          • Rick

            LAZ: AGAIN AND AGAIN YOU LIE “No, mine is based on strategic and operational requirements that demand a certain number of ship.” And here again you write about yourself : ” Yours is a bean counter’s opinion adding up random numbers to make a flawed point.”

          • Lazarus

            I will ask my PEO LCS friends to find you and drop off some of their briefing material to you next time they are down in your neck of the woods. You might find it useful.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            No thanks. Save the PowerPoints. I deal in real, demonstrated capability.

            And please – if you are going to be an academic at least try to look objective. Having PEO-LCS buddies doesn’t help your case.

          • Lazarus

            Too bad. You might learn something.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            I’ve talked to N81 types. Let’s just say there isn’t universal acclaim.

            CBO and CRS are not huge fans of LCS. Nor is DOT&E. But I imagine you knew that already.

          • Lazarus

            You would be surprised to hear what CBO and CRS naval folks have said recently on LCS. They want it to work.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            And what is DOT&E saying? Their opinions – derived from actual demonstrated capability – are what really matters.

          • Lazarus

            DOT&E ultimately serves Congress. “Happy” Gilmore and his band of physics PhD’s would have gotten LCS cancelled long ago if it were “their” choice alone. Thankfully they are but one input to the process.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            LCS is on track to get itself cancelled or at least truncated.

            Sustained poor performance can only be glossed over for so long.

          • Lazarus

            I don’t think so. Look for 40 units to be completed.

          • Lazarus

            I have former LCS skippers, people from N81, other OPNAV types, Wayne Hughes, CRS and CBO analysts and lots of other folks as sources for my work as well.

            Thanks too for helping to run up the hit count for this piece. Much better than I expected!

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Only a handful support your position. So there’s that.

        • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

          You keep quoting numbers and affordability of LCS relative to other options.

          At 25% availability (SASC recommendation) we’re not going to get nearly the deployment time out of each LCS that we had been told to expect for the price tag.

          A smaller, cheaper corvette and/or more PCs is looking better and better.

          • Lazarus

            I would suggest that the SASC has no clue about how to estimate availability.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Neither does PEO-LCS apparently. Or was having 6 of 7 ships PMC or NMC part of the plan?

  • eddie046

    We need to cut our losses with the LCS and do something like a modernized version of the FFG-7 class with its AAW capability reinstated. Although those ships had some teething issues they were nothing compared to what we are already seeing with the LCS. Let’s go with a proven commodity and hull form capable of operating with the rest of the blue water navy.

    • Lazarus

      Such a ship is simply too expensive to be produced in any numbers.

      • eddie046

        The LCS is far from being a bargain. FAR too expensive for the capabilities it delivers. Why two versions with two different logistical supply and support requirements? If you look up the costs of both vessels and adjust for inflation the Perry’s are almost the exact same cost for a FAR more capable platform.
        Perry LCS

        Length 450 ft 378 ft
        Displacement 4200 t 3500 t
        Speed 30 kts 35 kts
        Range 4500 nm @ 20 kts 1200 nm @ 20 kts *
        Draft 22 ft 13 ft

        • Lazarus

          The Perry’s average cost ended up being $194m to $210m (reports vary) by the end of its construction run. It was supposed to be $50m when ADM Zumwalt conceived it in 1973. That is $738m in 2016 dollars. You must also add the spiraling costs associated with digital technology introduction. There is a good RAND report on the subject of spiraling warship costs from 2006 worth reading on the subject. A new “frigate” such as you suggest would cost over $1b or more a piece. Such a ship would also need an expensive combat system In order to mimic the Perry’s supposed antiair abilities. Even the most expensive LCS estimates do not break the $650m ceiling.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Forget it Eddie. Laz has often demonstrated he doesn’t know the difference between cost and value.

    • DaSaint

      Perrys were single turbine, single shaft, with 2 drop down pods for emergencies. They were killed by the experts when they came out. Even the 76mm was hated as was the Mk13 single arm launcher. Should I even mention the boxy aluminum superstructure?

      Lets not do revisionist history just because they were more survivable than we all thought.

      • Lazarus

        Agree and that survivability was based on the fact that both Stark and Roberts suffered their damage in relatively calm seas, did not face follow-on attack, and had assistance in close proximity, unlike, for example, HMS Sheffield.

  • @USS_Fallujah

    “ensures 65 percent of the regular LCS force remains forward deployed at all times” this means that 1 of the 6 home ported (not LCS 1-4 training/testing) ships will be rotating forward to relieve one of the 3 deployed LCS on some unknown interval. The ability of the USN to keep 3 LCS forward deployed basically indefinitely is highly dubious.

    • Lazarus

      Why is it dubious? The 3 LCS squadron will be supported by a large detachment from its parent LCSRON as well as forward-deployed contractors, which despite complaints, have been proven analytically to be cheaper to utilize than uniformed sailors for some maintenance and repair activities.

      • @USS_Fallujah

        Given the engineering difficulties, which result from the design, not construction failure, keeping 3 ships forward deployed is going to extremely difficult (and expensive).

        • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

          Goal. 65% of LCS force forward deployed.

          Reality. Less than 25% of LCS force is currently even mission capable. None deployed.

          I see a slight disconnect…

          • @USS_Fallujah

            NavSea right now “What this severed artery needs is just a few more band aids and it’s be fine”

  • Lazarus

    Street fighter was an aviator’s idea of a ship. It was another attempt to build an operational concept from a tactical idea. Those are never good starting points.

    • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

      LCS is Bob Work’s (USMC artillerymen’s) idea of a good ship. So there’s that…

      • Lazarus

        Work is an advocate yes, but CNO Vern Clark and his staff were the origin.

        • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

          Work is a curiously silent advocate of late. Strange that.

          Ah yes. Along with nearly every other fouled up decision the Navy has made in the last 20 yrs. It all traces back to Vern.

          • Lazarus

            I think Work is busy with his DoD job and after 7+ years in senior positions is probably looking to a break. I don’t “blame” ADM Clark for anything; LCS was a response to a lack of small ships in the SC 21 family.

      • draeger24

        yes, but it lacks adequate artillery, ne’s pas? The need to be able to provide NGFS as well as being the Point Control Ship for an ARG is primary, and one of the reasons we forward deploy ARGs, especially for NEOs. Put in the 5’inch forward (tough to do in the NAVARCH sense), and .54 on each beam – that can defeat the small boat swarm. So question for you SWOS guys….is the AEGIS system miniaturized enough that it could be put on the trimaran hull? The other hull simply isn’t sea worthy. The speed of these vessels is perfect for supporting NEOs – and the trimaran hull could be lengthened to accommodate more helos. We should also rearm the PC’s to combat the small boat swarm, and, it would be the viable counter-piracy platform.

    • PolicyWonk

      Whatever it was, the concept and its specifications were developed by the ONR and made available somewhere around 2001, for a small surface combatant (small as in $93M per sea frame) optimized for littoral operations.

      Once funded and the blue water crowd got their fingers into the funds, while failing to include NECC in the planning, design, and requirements development for what supposedly is a littoral combat ship – went and turned it into something that costs almost 5 times as much (w/o any mission package), displaces 3000t, and is inherently complex, while the offensive and defensive aspects of this “combatant” got shortest of short shrift.

      What we have are ships built with a design that ignores the hard-learned lessons of littoral combat.

      Sad…

      • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

        Agreed – it’s as if someone in NAVSEA skimmed Wayne Hughes over a dinner and took all the wrong lessons.

        A littoral combatant should be relatively well-armed, cheap enough to produce/deploy in mass, and with force-level scouting capability to match its weaponry. The LCS we are getting is a loser on all three counts.

        • Lazarus

          Wayne Hughes was an active participant in the development of LCS. He did not like the growth in the sea frames beyond his usual recommendation of 800-2000 tons for the ideal surface combatant. The show-stopper of first order for Hughes’ concept is the lack of an accompanying distributed logistics system. There are also problems associated with basing more people/ships in places overseas where the SOF agreement is strained or not yet in existence. What is tactically best in some circumstances does not always meet strategic requirements.

  • KillerClownfromOuterspace

    Obviously they didn’t build it to lose, but they did build it to be too expensive both in lives and cost to be put at the risks required to function.

  • Lazarus

    Streetfighter was neither “heavily armed” nor “protected.” It was not intended to have any missile heavier than NLOS/Hellfire, it had no armor, and at best rudimentary electronic countermeasures.

    • PolicyWonk

      The platform they used to test the concepts wasn’t heavily armed or protected, you are correct: but that platform had little to do with what was ultimately specified.

      For example: $93M per sea frame strongly suggests a far smaller “solution” than what the toothless LCS has become.

      The USN would’ve been better off to start with the Cyclones, correct any deficiencies in the design – significantly up arm/protect it – be done with it. Then we’d have a serious littoral option.

      Now we have no such thing.

      • Lazarus

        I served on a Cyclone. There is little room to up-arm it. It has neither the armament or seakeeping to perform dedicated presence missions. The US would need over 150 PC’s to meet the same requirements as 50 LCS.

        • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

          Given current reliability of LCS – I doubt that claim.

          Navy would need 150 LCS to meet the requirements of 50 LCS.

          • Lazarus

            3 PC’s would be required to replace a single LCS in terms of capability.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            How did you come up with that 3 to 1 number? PRE I would imagine.

            Putting LCS Ao aside – which is horrific – three PCs are a heck of a lot cheaper to acquire and operate.

            3 PCs for an LCS is a great suggestion Laz. I am very glad you are coming to your senses!!!

          • Lazarus

            Not really. PC’s have lousy seakeeping in anything over sea state 3. They also do not deploy well other than in really good weather or heavy-lifted. PC’s also don’t have helo facilities which seriously limits their operational use beyond constabulary missions.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            … which is all LCS can do right now. And not even that with its unreliable engines.

        • PolicyWonk

          You missed the point – the idea there was to use the Cyclones, design out the problems, then make ’em bigger, better armed/protected/etc., as a starting point for a combat ship that is optimized for the littorals.

          Not my intention to mislead. Sorry!

          • Lazarus

            Fair enough. The US however build ships for global operations. Building a pure “littoral” combatant means building enough to maintain presence and survive losses in multiple theaters. That’s part of where the “3 PC’s for 1 LCS” argument comes from. The PC is also a death trap if hot by any sizeable weapon. It’s non-networked sensor range is terrible as well.

          • PolicyWonk

            Littoral combatants have been a mainstay of US naval operations throughout history. And just because a number of leaders in the USN have wet dreams about a massive blue water confrontation (i.e. to fight the war they WANT to fight, as opposed to the ones we ARE fighting), that does nothing to justify only being a blue water navy (and lets face it – admirals aren’t by navigating the littorals in small ships – but that’s LOUSY criteria).

            That simply isn’t realistic – not yesterday – not today. This is the same lame justification for ignoring mine warfare for decades (they don’t plant ’em where we sail), until we had some severe damage done to our ships – surprise! – in the *littorals* where the blue water guys don’t wanna fight, and didn’t plan to fight.

            A PC can be networked just like any other platform: if we can network a tank, we can network a PC, or larger. The sensors can also be upgraded, and linked in to other platforms. Just because it isn’t happening now doesn’t mean it can’t be done at a manageable cost.

  • John B. Morgen

    These LCS warships will failed because they are lightly armed, and will be in such areas of possible conflicts like in the South China Sea; whereby the PLAN warships are much better armed than our LCS. The Navy has failed its own history because during the 1930’s ocean going gun boats of the USS Eire (PG-50) class were given the same types of missions as for the LCS. Many of these ocean gun boats were planned to be built, but some one in the United States Admiralty put a halt to the program, then cancelled the problem altogether, and just build 10,000 ton cruisers instead. The United States Navy [really needs to study the service’s history], and learned from its past mistakes because the Navy’s history has just been repeated. The Chief of Naval Operations should cancel the program, and just build modified Burkes instead—hopefully guide missile cruisers…

    • Lazarus

      The USN is building DDG 51’s but also needs low cost small warships for presence operations and missions like counter piracy. Operated in a distributed network, multiple LCS are less susceptible to cruise missile attack than single frigates.

      • John B. Morgen

        The LCS are just as easy to be pick-off by using SSMs than the larger DDGs. THE DDGs are much larger, and can receive many hits than the small LCSs; furthermore, DDGs have far more air-tight compartments than the LCSs. So I partially disagreed with you….

        • Lazarus

          Takes more ASCM’s spread over a much wider area to kill 3 LCS as opposed to one frigate. I agree that a DDG is designed to dish out and take more. I do not suggest that the LCS replace the DDG in any way

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            So…now the enemy has to shoot 3 ASCMs instead of one ASCM? Hardly a big deal to say China or Russia.

            Your statement also assumes the Navy can get three LCS underway at the same time without breaking down. Which hasn’t happened yet.

          • Lazarus

            As always, if you have all of the answers, then submit your own article to USNI.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            I don’t have all the answers. I have a lot of questions.

            You seem to have all the answers. But they are blissfully untainted by reality.

          • Lazarus

            Your questions are limited by your institutional bias and lack of familiarity with surface ship operations.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            And your answers are limited by your lack of logic and objectivity.

          • Lazarus

            One must have experience in a given warfare discipline before being critical of that warfare areas decisions. When I have the termerity to climb into your airframe and tell you how to fly, then you may come to my bridge and tell me about shipboard operations.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Actually, we weren’t talking about shipboard operations. We’re talking about acquisition descions.

            I’ll listen to anybody as long as their positon is sound. Credentialism is a cop out. I also imagine you haven’t been an operational SWO in quite some time.

            My key problem with your position is that it isn’t backed by any facts or data. In fact – it is willfully ignorant of them.

          • Lazarus

            People who don’t have credentials complain when those who do fail to agree with them.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Laz, it’s been my experience that those who resort to credentialism do so because their position is not supported by facts.

            Certainly seems to be the case here.

          • Lazarus

            I maintain that one’s credentials are a significant aspect of one’s ability to present an informed opinion.

          • John B. Morgen

            It wouldn’t take much to destroy one LCS flotilla, if a flight bombers are armed with ASCMs or ASMs. Because I seriously doubt the LCS would be operating in wider field mode operation, due to their lack of adequate CIWS protection; instead would be operating in a pod formation for greater protection against surface and air threats.

  • Curtis Conway

    “After fleet operators get their hands on the ships and refine old operational and logistical support concepts and develop new ones, there is little reason to think the ship will not be an important contributor to twenty-first century Total Force Battle Network operations.”
    There is nothing as constant as change, and there is always room for improvement. However, principles never change, and cannot be dismissed away with “…and refine old operational and logistical support concepts and develop new ones…” Such things are usually contemplated by individuals “On a River in Egypt”.

    “Long, single-ship deployments have weakened morale in past decades and led to reduced retention of sailors subjected to these log periods away from home.” This is from an organization that has maintained the Carrier Strike Group deployment schedule we have had over the last decade?! No, we need to grow the fleet with some real all-ocean Arctic-capable frigates, and employ some of them with a new Expeditionary Strike Group which includes a Large Deck Aviation Platform full of F-35Bs in the Pacific. If Singapore decides to go with F-35Bs the entire makeup of defense in the region, and basing for this concept could change. Given China’s recent activities and continued lack of civility in the South China Sea with regard to their neighbors, this concept may not be too far-fetched.

    ”The ability of LCS to easily remove obsolete weapons and sensors and replace them with upgrades will be much quicker and more efficient than the upgrade process on legacy surface ships.” Upon demonstration, with several iterations of consecutive savings to prove it, I will believe the concept. On its face, and based upon recent HiStory, you couldn’t prove it to me.

    • Lazarus

      Do you want to pay more than $1b a piece for such frigates? A ship that costs 2/3 the DDG 51 but provides less than 1/2 that ship’s capability is a poor value.

      • PolicyWonk

        We could purchase the same sea-frames being built by HII, with the Legend Class National Security Cutters. The USN could share the same production line (which is hot), training facilities, yard facilities, the same logistical supply chain, etc.

        We’d have a blue-water, arctic capable frigate with legs, lots of room for growth, proven seaworthy and reliable. We’d have a platform that would be able to carry sufficient armament and protection so that it could operate either as part of a fleet or alone on patrol. In short – a real, viable, and usable asset. By the time they get done doing whatever they’re going to do with either LCS or the frigate variant – we’d still be better off with navalized NSC’s.

        • Tomcat

          The NSCs are too slow, as survivable as an LCS, and lacking all necessary combat systems. How exactly is it a good option? Range, the LCS has more than enough. Arctic capable, exactly what the Navy isn’t asking for. So the NSC qualities are basically boiled down to reliability and seaworthiness. Not exactly a form fit function candidate for a surface combatant. Let’s see how much it costs once it is.

      • Curtis Conway

        Yes to the first question, and it makes no difference in your case in the second because the platform has a poor chance of survival, if at all! That’s maintaining presence? Not in my book. At the cost of the current program a traditional frigate with upgraded systems based upon the NSC to replace FFG-7 would have been far more advantageous to the world we find ourselves living in now, and given the evolving world around us. Your camp picked a ‘Dark Horse’ special case solution for a narrow world view . . . and that world changed.

        • Lazarus

          The NSC is already nearing $700m even without the planned upgrades in armament, countermeasures, communications, sonar, etc that would be needed to bring the NSC up to frigate standards.

          • Curtis Conway

            Hey, I said a $1 Billion was OK. Why would you short change the frigate, and make it less survivable in combat? Survivability is the capability of the weapons systems now according to you guys. The NSC already has good watertight integrity and compartmentalization, and we need multi-warfare, ALL-Ocean (including the Arctic) capable frigates, not this ‘it will only operate in the temperate zones fight pirates business.’ Special purpose ships that were planned for, and of the type the Navy is building, for the regions and jobs they will perform, could be handled by much less expensive platforms. The USCG could do a better job with the new OPC (daft 17 ft.).

          • Lazarus

            At $1billion a copy the Navy simply cannot purchase the number of units needed for presence operations, distributive warfighting, and littoral ASW. Will the NSC do MiW as well? What is an “arctic” frigate anyway? Does it need a reinforced bow or something? Maritime Patrol aircraft are a much better way of patrolling arctic open waters than a surface ship.

          • Curtis Conway

            Its called an ‘Ice hardened hull’, of which the shipbuilders are aware. With the Arctic heating up literally and figuratively, and the US Coast Guard replacing twelve (12) Hamilton Class High Endurance cutters with eight (8) Legend Class NSCs, with the basing looking like:
            Homeport Hamilton WHEC 378 Legend WMSL 418
            Alameda, CA – – – – – – – – 3 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 4
            Charleston, SC- – – – – – – 2 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 2
            Honolulu, HA- – – – – – – – 2 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 2
            Kodiak, AK- – – – – – – – – 1 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 0
            San Diego, CA- – – – – – 2 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 0
            Seattle, WA- – – – – – – – 2 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 0
            It is irresponsible to leave Kodiak without a home ported Legend Class Cutter in the Arctic Region. I’ld put two there for good measure because of the current climate (environmental and political). Just because particular individuals are unaware of realities in the field, does not mean those realities do not exist, or need not require attention. Building a multi-warfare, all-ocean, ice-hardened hull Small Surface Combatant provides a vessel that can go anywhere and do most anything. THAT is what the US Navy needs in numbers, not something that can only go a few places and do a few things. I will pay more for THAT surface combatant. As far as Mine Countermeasures, leave that job to the LCS, its about all its good for anyway, other than perhaps SOF support.

            As far a the initial cost, I would buy a modified Ice hardened hull NSC with the 4160v integrated electrical system installed. The first major yard period which is years out, the directed energy weapons go on board in what ever form they have matured to at that time (probably point defense only at first), and install a Mk29 launcher with ESSM. If the platform was not upgraded with a 3D AESA TRS-4D radar with four (4) fixed array faces right out of construction, then I would start installing a 9-RMA AN/SPY-6(V) AMDR (lite) on every vessel. That provides a tracking volume and fire control solution as good as the AN/SPY-1. In a FORCEnet-21 environment that alone is worth the cost of the ship so we can use anyone’s weapons to shoot anything! I think that can happen in an MYP over a decade competed between two yards for less than $1 Billion a copy, and we get something the US Navy can send anywhere, including the Arctic.

  • RTColorado

    I feel that the leaders in the Navy must be smarter than me and see things I can’t because the plan being put forward seems to have inherent flaws. Something integral to the ethos of the modern navy is ship/crew integrity. When the entire crews rotates out, the ship itself needs to be tied up and the new crew allowed time to get acquainted. Swapping out the crew “mid-cruise” is almost designed to cause problems, which the LCS program has had plenty of already. The notion of “plug-n-play” works okay, most of the time….with computers. But ships, as modern as they are, are not computers….they may carry computers and use computers, but computers aren’t ships and ships ain’t computers. The current LCS program has demonstrated aptly that it lacks sustainability and reliability. Much as been made about the Russians deploying an aircraft carrier into the Mediterranean and the need for a tug to accompany it due to reliability issues, but our LCS suffer from similar problems. By the way, the latest and greatest “Wonder Ships”, the Zumwalt and the Ford are suffering from mechanical problems that are delaying deployment to the fleet. It appears the Navy has bigger problems then just the LCS program.

    • Lazarus

      The plug and play functions of LCS have not been a problem. Software issues were identified and corrected LCS-1 variant Milwaukee. Engineering training may be an issue in recent equipment casualties on LCS 1 and LCS 3. Engineering equipment issues on LCS-2 variants remain under investigation. Crew swaps on LCS are not conducted “mid cruise” but are defined periods of operation. You make it sound as if they are unplanned. No other class of ship has been allowed such scrutiny by the media. Most Navy ship classes have problems such as those experienced by both LCS variants. In the Cold War these were not in the news for security reasons.

      • RTColorado

        “Plug-N-Play” is a euphanism for the expectation that problems can be cured by merely exchanging modules. Crew swaps creates a steeper “learning curve”, whereas swapping out portions of a crews leaves the “legacy knowledge” in place as opposed to detailed re-briefs. I would agree that new classes of ships expeience “teething problems”, but the LCS class has been out in the fleet for several years now, so I’m skeptical of using growing pains as an excuse. When taken in its totality, the Navy seems to be in serious trouble in regards to keeping its ships and planes in proper order.

        • Lazarus

          LCS has not really “been in the fleet” as the program was paused from 2007 to 2009 and most of the operational units have been mired in the never-ending test and evaluation process. Institutional backwardness or cowardice must be overcome in terms of crew swaps because the Navy is not going to base more dependents overseas (for cost and security issues) and will not have extra-long single crew deployments, as those kill morale and retention.

          • RTColorado

            Did you say “paused from 2007 to 2009” ? Wow that would mean ten years of development and testing, roughly speaking. The LCS program is barely limping along. Much touted cruises get cut short with returning to port for repairs…now leap forward into a hostile environment (for which most naval warships are designed) and the Engineering section once again rings up to say…”Captain, there’s a problem with ….). At what point would you be willing to say a lemon is a lemon ?

          • Lazarus

            For nearly its first 6 years there were only two LCS units afloat and both were mired in canned test and evaluation activities proscribed by the US Acquisition and Test and Evaluation system. These were mostly canned operational tests and evaluation of pieces of modular gear. They were not really the sort of hard-edged operations that regular fleet service provides to work out design problems.

            Many past naval ships have seen similar issues as they entered the fleet in numbers. Ships with 1200psi, 950 degree F boilers (cruisers, destroyers and frigates) built during the middle Cold War era had significant engineering reliability issues. Their problems helped to spur the creation of the surface navy’s famous (or infamous) “Operational Propulsion Plant Examination”, otherwise know as “OPPE” in order to improve overall fleet reliability.

          • RTColorado

            The LCS is best suited for limited duty in and around US waters or where repair facilities are nearby. LCS as configured are not capable of fleet duty and present a tempting target for adversaries looking to score a “one-off” victory. Hopefully, there is some lemonade that can eventually be squeezed out of this lemon, but for the foreseeable future the LCS program is nothing more than a testbed for future development…much like the Zumwalt will be found out to be.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Pause. Most programs would call that failure.

  • LowObservable

    Hi Steven,
    Not updating Information Dissemination anymore?

    • Lazarus

      Operations suspended for the foreseeable future.

  • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

    If you squint enough while looking at that blurry picture of LCS-3, you’d almost think it was a warship!