Home » Budget Industry » Navy to Impose More Rigorous Oversight in New Ship Classes; Will Hire More Engineers

Navy to Impose More Rigorous Oversight in New Ship Classes; Will Hire More Engineers

USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) steams in formation with USS Independence (LCS-2) on Dec. 8, 2016. US Navy Photo

USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) steams in formation with USS Independence (LCS-2) on Dec. 8, 2016. US Navy Photo

The Navy will need a larger engineering directorate as it grows the fleet in coming years, to avoid problems faced in past ship classes like the Littoral Combat Ship and the Zumwalt guided missile destroyer stemming from the Navy being too hands-off on technical specifications.

Vice Adm. Tom Moore, commander of Naval Sea Systems Command, said NAVSEA’s engineering directorate (SEA 05) had dropped to a fifth of its size from 1990 to 2005. Coupled with a shift away from Navy-dictated ship specifications and towards contractor-friendly “performance-based specifications,” four major ship classes designed in that period suffered from a lack of oversight.

“In one of our many eras of acquisition reform – and at that time, the vogue in acquisition reform back in the mid-90s was, hey, industry knows best, just throw it over the fence to them and let them build the ships and we’ll be fine – there was the thought that, hey, the way you get ships built best was to turn them over to the people who know what they’re doing, and you’ll get the best ships and you’ll get the best cost,” he said Feb. 15 at the American Society of Naval Engineers’ Technologies, Systems and Ships conference.
“So we kind of entered an era where we went from [production-based specifications], where the Navy was very specific about what we wanted on our ships, to an era of what we like to call performance-based specs, where we kind of told industry, this is kind of what we want. We provided some oversight, but we’re going to leave the specifics up to you. And so a completely different mindset.

“So as a result of that we moved away from (general) specs, we really got out of the gen specs business and the notion was it was too much oversight and too much telling industry how to do their business. So we started transitioning over to what we call American Bureau of Shipping naval vessel rules. … Much like performance-based specs, where the contractor had wide latitude, the naval vessel rules were not nearly … as rigidly specified as what we had done in the past. Now, both those cases have pros and cons associated with them, and as I said the thinking at the time was by doing this, in the era of acquisition reform, this would get our costs down,” Moore continued.
“But I don’t have to tell you, as we look back on it and we look at some of the challenges we’ve had with LCS and DDG-1000, and to a lesser extent with LPD-17 and Ford (aircraft carrier) – and Virginia-class submarine is probably the one program where we did not divest ourselves from our traditional oversight role in spec design – we’ve had some challenges.”

After these four ship classes entered the fleet and the Navy realized the problems that stemmed from the performance-based standards, NAVSEA in 2012 moved away from the naval vessel rules and to a new Naval Combatant Design Specifications, which more closely resembled the old general specifications.

In addition to reverting to a more rigid specification system, Moore said NAVSEA is building up its engineering workforce to resume a proper level of oversight. Specifically, in SEA 05, where there had been 1,292 engineers in 1990 and only 251 in 2005, Moore said he’s hiring. SEA 05 is up to 568 today and expects to reach 750 engineers by 2025.

He said that technical excellence and oversight would be important as the Navy designs and fields new ship classes in the coming years. Interestingly, of the ship classes Moore identified as suffering from a lack of technical oversight during the performance-based specifications phase – LCS, the Zumwalt-class destroyer (DDG-1000), San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock (LPD-17) and Ford-class carrier (CVN-78), in order of most to least affected by performance-based specs – three of the four will be used as the basis for future ship classes.

The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) transits alongside USS Anchorage (LPD 23) off the coast of Southern California on Feb. 19, 2017. US Navy photo.

The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) transits alongside USS Anchorage (LPD 23) off the coast of Southern California on Feb. 19, 2017. US Navy photo.

The LCS will soon transition to the frigate, an upgunned and uparmored multimission version of one or both LCS variants. The LPD-17 design is the basis for the upcoming LX(R) amphibious dock landing ship replacement. And lessons learned from DDG-1000 are expected to inform the Future Surface Combatant family of systems.

Moore said in his speech that “each of the four ships have had its challenges, and some of those are challenges you always have in first-in-class ships. And I’m not blaming all of these problems on technical oversight in the acquisition approach, but they were certainly contributing factors to some of the challenges we had.”

Asked if contractors who worked on these original classes of ships could expect a noticeable difference under the new Naval Combatant Design Specifications, Moore told USNI News that “as we move to the new frigate and we go to LX(R), those will be under the Naval Combat System Development rules and we will be much more in a procurement-based spec environment with them. That doesn’t mean that we’re back to an era in the ‘60s where NAVSEA basically did the design and handed it to them – and I don’t think it makes sense for us to go back to those days – but we will provide a lot more specificity to the shipbuilder, working side by side with them, but we’ll be a lot more specific in our contracts, in our specifications with them on what specifically we want in the ships going forward. And I think there’s an equal balance there that will still allow us to control costs and also when we get the ships out have ships that are easier to maintain and probably will reduce some of the early challenge that we’ve seen with some of these ships.”

The guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) transits the San Diego channel on its way to her new homeport at Naval Base San Diego on Dec. 8, 2016. US Navy photo.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) transits the San Diego channel on its way to her new homeport at Naval Base San Diego on Dec. 8, 2016. US Navy photo.

DDG-1000 program manager Capt. Kevin Smith told USNI News on Feb. 16 at the same conference that turning the program over to the contractor to simply meet a performance requirement led to “unique solutions” in components that otherwise could have been common with other ship classes, complicating the sustainment of the ship class.

“So one of the challenges with a three-ship class is you have some systems out there like the Advanced Gun System. We have a steering gear that’s revolutionary but nothing else exists like this in the universe,” Smith said.
“So although it meets the requirements well, from a sustainment perspective, that’s one thing I think that the Navy as a whole will have to take a look at. There’s commonality and there’s NAVSEA codes that do this, but that’s one of the things I think is a lesson learned. We are going to have support mechanisms to support this, but when we have a three-ship class, what I’m hoping is a lot of these key technologies will get leveraged for Future Surface Combatant or other designs that the Navy is looking at” so as to avoid having to sustain these systems on only three ships for their full service life.

Rich Dumas, Raytheon’s Zumwalt-class systems engineer and architect lead, added during the same panel presentation that while “doing the ship from a clean sheet of paper was just a phenomenal opportunity, once in a lifetime opportunity … it resulted in some trade decisions and point solutions that, as it turned out, might not exactly have been palatable in the long term, as Capt. Smith points out, to how it’s going to be sustained across the infrastructure that exists today in order to support the class. So it could result in design choices, equipment choices, that don’t have a pedigree behind them and don’t have the sustaining infrastructure behind them. “

Dumas noted that, whereas a shipbuilding program today – and DDG-1000 in its later stages – might rely on program of record acquisition resource managers to buy and integrate existing systems, the freedom afforded to the contractors led to an innovative but complex total ship systems engineering effort that relied on new interrelated systems instead of proven and sustainable ones.

  • old guy

    It would take a volume to critique this article, covering everything from the stupidity that led to ‘Old Flopover”, DD1000 to the virtually useless LCS class. Sea 05 is an embarrassment. What was once a wellspring of APPLICABLE ideas to address new requirements, has apparently become a bureaucracy serving Congressional whims (read, campaign donations). I hope COMNAVSEA reds this and decides to take real action and not just install more warm bodies.

    • Rocco


      • old guy

        There.s a quote from G&S’s HMS Pinafore that could apply to
        SEA 05. It goes,”Things are seldom what they seem, skim milk masquerades as cream.”

        • Rocco

          Lol like trans gender heads are next you watch!!🙄

    • Duane

      Now Get Off My Lawn!

      • old guy

        The rain, it raineth on the just,
        and, also on the unjust fella’
        But, mostly on the just
        Because the unjust stole the just’s umbrella!

  • Hank Walker

    I think the real problem is attempts to produce “transformational” ships. It is well known in system design that the way to reliable, on-time and on-budget systems is an incremental approach. Simultaneously deploying all sorts of new features is a guarantee for late, over-budget and unreliable. Then, following “Augustine’s Laws”, the planned procurement numbers must be cut way back to meet budget reality, ballooning per-unit cost. Then we go back to producing more of the older, affordable model. Burke-class and F-18 here we come.

    • mikehorn

      The military suffered through Rumsfeld’s “transformation” long enough. This is why hiring good civilian leaders is important. Their impact lasts far longer than their tenure.

      • kaamAdmi

        Its rather a case of fat Leonard getting fatter

    • Duane

      The LCS costs are down, not up. Freedom class is currently selling at $348M per hull, plus whatever the mission package costs (ranging from under $100M for the ASW, significantly less for SW). That’s identical or substantially less than other similar sized hulls including the German F-125 frigate at the latest delivered price of almost $823M per unit in 2017. The F-125 is bigger at 7,200 tons vs. 3,900 tons, but the cost difference is more or less proportional.

      And the LCS is, as we speak, being fitted for ASMs that are at least as capable as anything the larger F-125 carries, including the Harpoon and the NSM. The Navy is issuing a competitive procurement for such deck mounted ASMs for the LCS this very month.

      While the costs of various components may vary, you pretty much pay for ships by the ton.

      The issues with the LCS seem far more related to crew and officer readiness, training, and competence than design issues.

      The Naval engineers probably do have a point in increasing their numbers in an era where naval shipbuilding is probably going to ramp up, but to say that the issues we had with the LCS is because of that is silly.

      • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

        “The issues with LCS…”

        Umm – then how do you explain the constant reliability issues?

        At one point nearly every LCS was broken down. All signs point to an overly complex design with inherent flaws.

        • Lazarus

          Not constant reliability issues. First 4 ships were developmental. LCS 5 and 6 and forward are the mature sea frame. Sure, 5 had a computer issue and 6 had a gas turbine problem, but these are common issues on new ships. All LCS problems get showcased since the defense press knows that any LCS issue will get lots of clicks.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            LCS is a dozen years past Milestone A. Additional seaframes are being delivered every six months. We’re far past the prototyping phase.

            Reliability issues like what we’ve seen with LCS-5 and LCS-6 are unacceptable this late in the program.

            The reasons that LCS gets so much press is because it is “transformational” and there are so just many issues.

            Many of these issues were predicted or easily forseeable had the LCS program taken a more realistic / unbiased look at what it was asking industry to do. I think that was VADM Moore’s point.

          • Duane

            You’re refusing to acknowledge the Navy’s very different conclusions. The Navy finally recognized that their crew development and management system for the LCS was at fault, not the vessel itself. It would have been easier for the Navy to blame the vessel design and therefore accept no responsibility for the issues. But they didn’t … they pointed the finger directly back at themselves.

            And what is that now? …. the sound of crickets? The “rash” of issues has disappeared, and the LCS has disappeared from the media. The root cause has been found and fixed. The issues are no more.

          • Angie Nathan

            The Navy blamed their own ranks because they are the ones pushing for a continuation of the program and they also want to block buy future frigates (keeping much of the same contractor connections). In my estimation they are just buying time to get Congress to commit to more funding and hope to sweep past failures under the rug. The problem for them is that the present administration may not turn a blind eye.
            “The root cause has been found and fixed” statement seems to be evidence that some of us live in alternate worlds.

          • PolicyWonk

            The issues with LCS haven’t vanished – they’ve been sort of resolved. Kind of. But only if you squint and ignore what the resolution means. For example:

            The initial crewing plan has been tossed, and now the crew sizes are 50% larger than they were initially supposed be. This translates into a long-standing failure of the designs to meet the reduced crewing requirement – and that in turn translates into considerably increased cost to the taxpayers. More people means reduced time at sea, less cargo/ammunition, etc., and higher per-hour cost to run.

            The whole point of LCS was supposed to be the quick-changing of mission modules – also since tossed. Now it’ll take months instead of the several days it was supposed to be. Granted, this might be faster than building a whole ‘nother ship – but its ~30 times longer than it was supposed to be.

            So have the issues been resolved?

            Kinda sorta. Not really.

            Is the promised value there? Definitely not: This nation and the USN are still without a littoral combat platform – and this after $36B being extorted from the taxpayers.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            “The root cause has been found and fixed. The issues are no more.”

            Funny. We’ve been told the problems are all fixed before. Past LCS experience would lead one to believe otherwise.

          • Duane

            It is literally impossible for the LCS to be a dozen years beyond any milestone – the program was only authorized in 2003. There were delays and cost overruns in the first four ships, blamed on poor procurement by the Navy as well as a failure of the Navy to explain to Congress that the first two hulls were developmental only, so of course the costs would be much higher than the planned full production cost model.

            Today the ships are coming off the ways on schedule and costs are now down to $348M per hull, plus whatever mission package is installed, adding anywhere from $30M to $100M. On a price per ton basis, these prices are entirely competitive with any other frigate or small combatant being built today.

            It is true that the Navy claimed they could produce the hulls for only $220M back in 2003 at program inception, but that was ridiculous … no ship with equivalent size and capability or even less was selling for that price.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Milestone A per the DOD Selected Acquisition Report was May 2004.

            It is now Feb 2017. May 2004 to Feb 2017 is 12+ years.

            As I’ve told Laz, you don’t get to bend time to suit your arguments.

          • Lazarus

            LCS is a spiral development, much as were the interwar Treaty cruisers. The first two classes had all sorts of problems, but that was not surprising given that no one had designed so much into a 10k ton hull before that point (1920’s/1930’s.) LCS 5 and 6 reliability and forward has been very good, considering that problems have only occurred in the “delivery to PSA” period where the Navy expects and plans for such problems to happen.

            It is easy to have 20/20 hindsight vision, and people who make such comments do not take into account what actually happened in the course of the LCS program, but instead sit on the sidelines in judgement saying, “see, I told you so,” but in reality they never said anything!

          • Curtis Conway

            “…LCS is a spiral development…” . . . oh, its spiraling alright. Most of us believe it is in the wrong direction, for these vessels have not seen combat . . . yet.

          • Angie Nathan

            Would the spiral be in the opposite direction for the even numbered ships?

          • PolicyWonk


            Hmmm… “Tailspin” seems more accurate…

          • old guy

            Well said. I have fought Hunk-A-Junk since all rational evaluators were rejected. My people developed the correct “Reconfigurable” ship concept, SEAMOD, in 1978. The new, political, SEA05 rejected it as “TOO COMPLEX”. Could go into detail, but frankly, I guess I’m just too olds. I have to rely on bright guys like you. Some of the responses here reinforce my position of the absolute chaos in NAVSEA.

        • MarlineSpikeMate

          crew mistakes have been a major contributing factor for these big public casualties.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            A well-designed ship should be easily operated and maintained by its crew.

          • MarlineSpikeMate

            Having been on many ships, I can say never is one “easily operated and maintained by its crew”. I can say it depends on the crew more so than the ship. A ship will always have similar valves, engines, pumps and equipment. Failing to follow EOSS is not a ship’s design fault. Having skewed priorities onboard is not the ships fault either. Its hard to name one Freedom variant casualty that the crew didn’t play a large part in creating… maybe you can point one out. Is this specifically the crews fault? Of course not, its the procedures, leadership and most importantly, the training, which is why it is being revamped entirely…

          • Stephen

            Crews don’t make those kinds of mistakes! Marrying 2 or 3 different types of propulsion to a single propulsar; belongs in an experimental prototype. “We’ll work out the bugs, later.” Simply ridiculous!

          • Duane

            Nuke subs have been using three different propulsion sources on a single vessel for over 60 years … the nuclear steam plant, as well as the storage battery, and the auxiliary diesel running an electric propulsor. Easy peasy, piece of cake. The diesel boats used two sources (diesels and battery) powering the same shaft for 55 years before nukes came along. In fact, if we go “whole hog” like the DDG-1000 class, you just run big electrical generators off the main power plant and everything on the vessel gets powered by electric motors.

            With technologically advanced vessels, it takes professional-minded, well trained sailors and officers to run it.

            So are you saying that the surface Navy is too stupid to run anything but one propulsion source at a time? If so, then the problem is not the ship but the people on it, and their bosses in the Navy establishment who are too dumb to realize that this is the 21st century.

            Fortunately, the Navy isn’t quite that dumb, because they realized their errors in crew development and management, and have already ordered the necessary fixes. Effectively the LCS are now being run like nuke SSBNs. And that is a very good thing.

          • MarlineSpikeMate

            Have you read any of the reports? Also, marrying 2 types of propulsion to a single shaft is nothing new!

          • Stephen

            I would have liked to have attended the critiques. We don’t know what corrective actions were determined. Nuke subs have reduction gears/clutches & were perfected a long time ago. LCS has a different arrangement. (I hope they conducted a Design School for the Engineers.) In addition to Diesel Boats, we had a class of BBs that were electric drive.

          • MarlineSpikeMate

            These reports are available now, on the internet.

          • Stephen

            The After-Action-Reports, resulting from the critique, reveals causality. I understand the LCS has a complex mechanism for shifting prime-movers. Nukes have trained at Prototypes or Moored Training Ships. Sounds like a similar approach is being developed for the LCS. If this does not work, like PHMs, these “ships” are destined for the boneyard…

          • Curtis Conway

            See my comment above!

          • Angie Nathan

            Or the scapegoat

        • Duane

          I don’t explain the reliability issues. The Navy explained them as primarily command and crew readiness and training issues. Operator error is the fault of the operator, not the ship.

          And there is no way that the LCS is “overly complex” – the US Navy has been operating vastly more complex nuclear power plants for over 60 years now, using the same quality of enlisted operators and officers that are available to LCS.

          The Navy’s fix is to fire bad officers, increase the training, revamp the crewing into the highly proven blue-gold two-crew arrangement long used on SSBNs, and convert the first four LCS hulls into training commands, again, just as the Navy did with its nuke prototype training schools for its nuke operators. Highly proven.

          The problem for the surface Navy, excepting the handful of nukes, is they were still using World War Two era notions of command, crewing, and training on a 21st century high tech vessel. That was the “root cause” of the issues, again, according to the Navy, not to me.

          Admiral Rickover, the “father of the nuclear Navy” was a forward thinking innovator who would not put up with the hidebound blindness of the regular Navy. He was successful because the nation’s survival in the nuclear age depended upon an effective nuclear program .. and because he cultivated powerful Congressmen and Senators who protected his backside from the Navy establishment of the time. It seems rather strange now, 60 years later, that the rest of the Navy did not learn and adapt his forward thinking methods to the rest of the non-nuclear Navy, but apparently a series of embarrassing failures is what it took to learn and react.

          • Stephen

            Rickover insisted on a proven engine room aft of his reactor. It was a WWII DE steam plant. Combined with the best in battery/electric-drive, also employed by current diesel boats. The wildest rides were on extraction steam, not many submariners can say that…

          • Duane

            The engine room aft was the simple part .. it was the nuclear system that made the boats extremely complex to build, operate, and maintain.

            I was a reactor operator on a SSN (637 class), so I know a little about that stuff.

          • Stephen

            S2C, S2W, S5W & S8G, me too.

          • Curtis Conway

            This “…21st century high tech vessel…” ignores centuries of experience, oversimplified, the HiStorical context for Surface Combatants by those who would redefine reality, and ignore inherently human characteristic which make up human beings therefor the crew. The Submarine Force is a special case, and only those who can cut the mustard are even given the chance to take on that challenge. This equivalency of yours that places LCS crewmen on a Nuclear Submariner performance level ignores the fact that every NUC is equivalent to a Junior in a Major Engineering University. We have High School Graduates manning the LCS(s), with greater challenges stacked on top for that. Shame on you for your ‘magical flight of hand’ in this argument, and lack of intellectual integrity that covers many layers of expertise, requirements, and experience that can only be appropriately addressed from a position of Knowledge and Strength via wisdom gained through that experience.

          • Lazarus

            That nuke training costs big $$$ that the surface navy has never received for training, so don’t be too critical of us since we don’t get nuke pay or get special training for our needs.

            The world changes. Automation is coming to more areas and the Navy is no exception. Smaller crews are inevitable, just as losing sails was with the advent of steam power.

          • Curtis Conway

            Cost of the training is NOT the issue. Capabilities of the crew members IS! Hey . . . I passed the NUC induction test with a 67 and chose not a nuclear field of service, and went to the multi-warfare Cruiser route instead. The average education level of everyone on USS Ticonderoga (CG-47) was 13+ years, and that was a Surface Combatant crew of 340+ Officers and Men. So it is possible to have an excellent crew on a Surface Combatant, but one must educate and train that team. We were a crew of prima donnas until we went to GITMO REFTRA. Coming out of REFTRA we were a crew that could take an Aegis Cruiser North of the Arctic Circle in 18-20+’ seas for two weeks strait and still accomplish our mission with a high degree of success, and bring the ship home. I don’t see that in the Surface Combatant Fleet today in the case of the LCS.

          • Lazarus

            Actually the % of high school diplomas in the Navy in general and in the surface fleet has continued to rise over the 1980’s, 1990’s and on to the present. The whole surface combatant fleet (except LCS) is “Aegisized”. TICO may have been an exception as the first unit in her class with an entirely new combat system. The OPS boss on my first CG was the precom FCO on TICO and I heard stories about your ship.

          • Duane

            Yup … the Navy enjoys a heckuva lot higher rate of well educated sailors now than in the 60s and 70s Vietnam era when I entered service. There were a heckuva lot of surface ship sailors back then who could barely read and write, probably no better than a fifth or sixth grade reading level, in those days.

            The nuke program has for decades taken sailors with no more than a HS diploma but good aptitude for math and science and turned them into highly trained and capable nuke crews. The average time to enter the fleet was two years, hence the minimum 6-year enlistment.

          • Duane

            Exactly, Lazarus. The future Navy is going to have fewer but more capable sailors, crewing more capable and more complex vessels. That was obvious at the dawn of the nuclear age in the 1950s … surprised its taken the non-nuke surface fleet 60 some years to figure that out.

          • Duane

            Centuries of experience aren’t being ignored … but being stuck in past when ships today demand a far more intelligent and well-trained crew than in decades and centuries past is a non-starter. Otherwise, we’d consider sailors who don’t know how to climb the ratlines and reef a mainsail as incompetent and worthless. Instead, sailors who knew how to do that were obsoleted 140 years ago.

            Just like we no longer expect people with nothing but a high school diploma to have any actual job skills or have any ability to earn a good living, as their parents and grandparents could and did … and just as our great-great-great grandparents had to go to school to learn to live in an industrializing nation in the 19th century, because knowing how to drag a plow behind a horse no longer could cut it when the nation needed machinists, electricians, plumbers, etc.

            Times change … you change with them or you’re left behind.


          • Angie Nathan

            If I may be allowed to simplify. When something bad happens look for the least ranking person in the pilot house to blame it on. When something bad happens several times look in the downward direction for human error in a group of people (to blame it on).
            Technology goes the direction of becoming user friendly. These ships are so sophisticated that they do not have idiot lights for things like temperature, rpm, pressures etc.?

            I would like to be proven wrong that people are being sacrificed as the cause, in order to save “the program”.

          • Duane

            You’ve got it precisely backwards, Angie.

            The Navy leadership did not blame the LCS sailors … they blamed THEMSELVES for not organizing a 21st century crew development system for a 21st century warship. They’re not firing sailors – they’ve completely revamped everything from how the ships are crewed (going to a proven blue-gold concept), and trained (converting the first four hulls into effectively training prototypes, much like the nuclear prototypes that Rickover developed back in the 1950s).

            When sailors don’t perform well, you start at the top and work down – that’s how you find and fix root causes. Individual sailors certainly made errors, and their supervisors and officers have retrained them to not make the same errors again, but the system needed to be revamped … and it has been.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Duane, you are grasping at straws.

            The vast majority of the Surface Navy is not nuclear powered. They run on diesels or Gas Turbines. My understanding is the LCS powerplants are a bit more complicated than these. Do you expect every Machinist Mate in the LCS engine room to be as skilled as a nuclear SWO?

            Four of the twenty-eight planned LCS (14%) are going to be dedicated testing and training vessels that do not deploy. That’s hardly an efficient use of assets. I’m not aware of the SSN/SSBN community having four non-deployable ships. Or any community other than aviation. It’s an expensive way to do business – and not a sign that things are going well.

            The rest of the Surface Navy seems to do pretty well without Rickover-style management. The problem is that LCS is so overly complex that it requires expensive, nuclear-power style oversight and maintenance. Which is the antithesis of what the Navy supposedly wanted out of LCS: a relatively cheap, forward deployed ship.

            Nearly all of the original precepts underlying LCS have disappeared or been deemphasized. It’s hard to even puts one’s finger on what the Navy is actually getting compared to what was envisioned.
            – Affordability. Unit price is over two times what was planned.
            – Modularity. No modules.
            – Planned UAVs/USVs. Never fielded.
            – Reconfigurability. Did not work.
            – High speed. No longer emphasized.
            – Minimal manning. Didn’t work.

          • Duane

            You obviously don’t understand how the nuke propulsion program was developed. The first nuke plants were indeed for training only – the land based prototype plants built in Idaho and later in New York. Later on the Navy decommissioned operating nuke subs and converted them into dockside prototypes and that is what we train nuke sailors and officers with today. With high tech systems that has been proven over and over again to be the most effective way to train and prepare crews to deploy on operating vessels. The surface fleet comes from an entirely different culture than the nukes do … it’s high time they come out of their backwards ways, and in fact the Navy’s decision to convert the first four hulls to training prototypes is a great move.

            The planned price was always a ridiculous fantasy… no navy on the planet produces 3900 ton warships for $220N. The much heralded German F-125 class frigate are going out the door today for about $850M … they’re bigger than the LCS, but on a dollar per ton basis, the price is virtually the same. Nobody is building $220 million frigates.

            High speed is indeed appropriate in coastal waters … high speed has ALWAYS been a key criterion for coastal raiders and patrols, going back to the age of sail.

            Minimal manning DOES work. The crew size today of the LCS is still much much smaller than any equivalent ship in the world.

            You’re trying to live in a 20th century world … the world is now well into the 21st century. It’s about time that the surface navy recognized that .. and indeed, it has.

        • Lazarus

          If you bothered to research other classes you would note that nearly every USN ship suffers a breakdown at one or more times in its service life. Only one LCS actually “broke down” at sea and one had a major pierside engineering casualty that limited operations. You really need to stop spreading fake LCS news!

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            No Laz. You’re the one who made the assertion “re: common issues on new ships.” And provided zero data to back that claim up.

            You really need to stop being an LCS cheerleader and be a little more objective. Folks might take you seriously…

      • Curtis Conway

        “…the LCS is, as we speak, being fitted for ASMs…” . . . which makes the LCS a fatter and more threatening target. The Anti-Air Warfare capability must be improved to defend the ship, and that defense must have greater capability than a 25 lb blast fragmentation warhead employed inside of five miles in a Supersonic ASCM environment.

        • Lazarus

          It makes LCS a greater threat to opponents. SeaRAM is better than the CIWS that was the only hard kill anti-ASCM system left on the Perry’s when they retired. Not every ship need go to sea with an area AAW capability. The Navy does not have enough money for a high/high mix.

          • Curtis Conway

            In a Supersonic ASCM environment a area AAW capability should be at least out to 20 nm to provide another layer of potential engagement with a larger

          • Lazarus

            That will drive the cost of a frigate sized ship above $1b and the current budget will not support enough of those ships to get to 350. The best use of LCS is in a distributed environment where an opponent must divide their ASCM fires in order to account for the divided deployment.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            “The best use of LCS is in a distributed environment where an opponent must divide their ASCM fires in order to account for the divided deployment.”


            This claim has never made sense to me in the context of the LCS. It just strikes me as a very superficial understanding of Hughes’s salvo equations.

            For one thing modern ISR can see a long ways. Modern ASCMs are relatively cheap compared to the cost of an LCS. China and Russia likely have hundreds of ASCMs if not thousands.

            We aren’t buying enough LCSs to really complicate an enemies targeting problem. Nor can the LCS venture far from a base or tender or friendly air cover – which makes the enemy’s targeting problem that much easier.

            The concept would make sense if the Navy had bought into Hughes’s FAC/FIAC concept instead. Lots of cheap expendable platforms. But it didn’t.

          • Stephen

            Kind of reminds me of the PHMs. Very complex, hard to maintain & finally deemed too expensive. (They sure were cool!)

          • Duane

            We’re buying 52 of some combination of current LCS and the new frigate variant. Considering that will be the single largest class of warships we have, for you to sniff that there aren’t enough to matter is silly.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            We currently have 62 Arleigh Burke DDGs. And the number of DDGs is expected to remain constant if not increase by 2030.

            So your assertion that LCS will be the “single largest class of warship” doesn’t seem supported by the facts. Even if we buy all 52 which seems pretty unlikely.

            But let’s assume for a second we do buy 52 LCS and LCS-FF. That doesn’t mean well have all 52 when and where we need them.

            As you’ve stated, four of the LCS are non-deployable. Used for training and test.

            The current CONOPS scheme will keep about half or less of the remaining 48 forward.

            But not all of thes which are forward deployed will be in theater of conflict. Or be able to move there without a tanker.

            Those in theatre may not have the right mission package for the fight. And the current CONOPS does not allow for reconfiguration.

            Lastly, given the reliability of the LCS, it seems very likely some portion of those forward will break down in short order. According to DOT&E the probability of failure is pretty close to 100%.

            Bottom line: we’re not talking 52 LCS when and where it matters. Probably more like 10.

          • Duane

            All those things you say apply to every warship in the fleet. Gross numbers get whittled down to deployed warships in every ship class.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            No disagreement – although in case of LCS there is every expectation that the useful deployment rate will be much lower than legacy platforms.

            – terrible reliability/maintainability;
            – cannot self-deploy;
            – can only conduct one mission.

          • Duane

            Lazarus – these anti-LCS dudes are really funny, remind me of mealy-mouthed politicians and the talking heads on cable TV whom you can never pin down.

            Sound of whining: “I don’t like the LCS because it can’t defend itself”.

            Retort – “OK we just up-armed it to defend itself”

            Sound of whining: “I don’t like that the LCS can’t do what an AEGIS cruiser can do”

            Retort – “That’s because we already have AEGIS cruisers that do what they do … and AEGIS cruisers cost five times what an LCS costs”.

            That latter one is akin to complaining that aircraft carriers can’t submerge like submarines do.

            Or like complaining that submarines can’t launch and retrieve Super Hornets.

            Retort: “Yeah … so?”

          • Andy

            Aircraft carriers, like any skimmer…er, target…er, surface ship, can be a submarine…once. Some ships sink by design, others need our assistance!

          • PolicyWonk

            “Not every ship need go to sea with an area AAW capability…”
            To bad the designers made LCS such a tempting target then isn’t it? Its too big, too lightly armed, and poorly protected for effective littoral combat; too small for realistic blue water operations; not really able to protect itself in any meaningful way; and soon to be too big a threat for a naval opponent to ignore.

            And at $400M/sea-frame, well worth an ASM or 3.

          • Duane

            You guys just slay me … complained for years that the LCS didn’t have enough firepower … now the Navy is adding the firepower, so you conveniently shift your argument to “too tempting a target”. You’re just weaseling your way to whatever convenient talking point of the moment that you can take refuge in, just like greased pigs and politicians, impossible to ever pin down.

            Considering that the US Army is also going to be fielding hundreds of anti-ship missiles on Allied land bases surrounding the ECS and SCS, greatly multiplying the number of threats, I’d say we’re getting to the point where China’s much ballyhooed “A2/AD” strategy is evaporating before their very eyes. They’ll have to be able to simultaneously launch literally thousands of multi-million dollar missiles at a equal number of targets and pray to their Chinese ancestors that at least some of them hit their targets before their entire navy is sitting on the bottom of the ECS/SCS.

            Somehow the notion that China is going to be able to “spray and pray” their way to victory over a combined allied force that is seven times the size of theirs just doesn’t give them much confidence in starting a new war.

            Which is precisely the point.

          • PolicyWonk

            The firepower of LCS is all but useless without the targeting systems to make it worth it. Without its chopper (an easy to shoot down target if there ever was one), LCS is all but as blind as a bat.

            Now you’re saying that the Army is going to protect the already toothless and practically blind LCS?

            LCS is a mess, and as former CNO Adm. Jonathan Greenert stated in an interview on Breaking Defense, the (so-called) Littoral Combat Ship “was never intended to venture into the littorals to engage in combat…”.

            If the LCS program office sold it as “a wicked fast utility ship that can’t fight and/or protect itself from a naval opponent”, then it wouldn’t have been funded.

            So they LIED. The so-called Littoral Combat Ship was never designed for littoral combat, and cannot possibly fulfill the mission outlined by the “street fighter” concept it is supposedly derived from. The “blue-water” crowd saw money in the “street fighter” program, and embezzled it to make this worthless “franked-ship” thats too big for the littorals, lousy in blue water, and hasn’t got the room for growth to do much of anything – at maximum cost to the taxpayers.

            All the major concepts of LCS were miserable failures.

            The entire LCS program office should be prosecuted for dereliction of duty.

            An outstanding corporate welfare program – a worthless liability for the USN.

          • Duane

            The LCS will have a targeting system for its missiles … they’re not going to be deckmounted just for show. Electronics are easy to upgrade on a ship.

            Once you fire a long range missile it’s on its way and on its own except for a 2-way datalink, to which it will be connected to an E-2 or and AWACS or a forward deployed F-35C.

            So no, your statement is ridiculous, as is your entire bombastic comment.

        • Duane

          LCS is never going to be an AEGIS destroyer or cruiser. No small surface combatant, frigate or otherwise, is going to have that capability. It’s silly to think it needs to do that. It’s too small a target to be worth major attention anyway, when the enemy most certainly has to worry bigtime about our CVN task forces.

          Putting Harpoons and NSMs on LCS, and eventually LRASMs, however, vastly complicates and threatens enemy large surface combatants. That means the enemy has to account for many more threats who are geographically more distributed and not concentrated in CVM task groups … hence “distributed lethality”

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            re: LRASM on LCS. First time I’ve heard that claim. Source?

          • Duane

            It’s not a claim … it’s a capability that can easily be adapted to new construction LCS or the new frigate variant of the LCS. It would likely be more difficult to retrofit existing LCS because it will likely require a built-in launcher rather than an add-on deck mount. But there is nothing inherently in the design of LCS to preclude installation of a missile launch … indeed, that’s exactly what the new frigate variant is supposed to have.

          • Andy

            “But there is nothing inherently in the design of LCS to preclude installation of a missile launch(er)”
            Quite the opposite from what I’ve heard from folks I’ve talked to in N96 and PEO LCS…the problem is that both LCS designs had to accept a certain degree of structural frailty in order to reach their design speeds. As a result, their deck structures and stability characteristics make it challenging (to say the least) to put relatively heavy things like missile launchers on the deck. IIRC, for Harpoon specifically the evens can handle 2×2 launchers forward of the pilot house, but there is no place to put them on LCS-1. That’s one of the reasons the Navy has expressed interest in the Kongsberg NSM; the missile and its launcher is a lot lighter than Harpoon and, perhaps, LRASM.
            Speaking of LRASM, from all I’ve heard it will remain an air-launched weapon only. A big part of the problem is that it is very expensive on a per-round basis.

          • Duane

            The Navy has already conducted successful test launches of both the NSM and the Harpoon on LCS using retrofited deck mount launchers. The Harpoon launch taking place just last October in RIMPAC 2016.

            The next round of LCS coming off the drawing boards – now named “frigates” but essentially the same hulls – will be equipped with the standard VLS-41 missile launcher as part of the up-arming of the class. Those LCS already constructed or under construction now will probably settle for the deck mounts which can mount only 4 missiles each, whereas the Mark 41 comes in 8-cell configurations. Larger ships like the Ticonderoga class carry two 8-cell units, while smaller frigate sized ships typically carry a single 8-cell unit.

            But considering that a single Harpoon or NSM can take out any ship up to and including a missile cruiser or large destroyer, having four on board an LCS makes them a very dangerous adversary to take account of.

            The difference between the Harpoon and NSM is mainly in the advanced targeting mechanism in the NSM and its ability to “bob and weave” as it approaches a target via sensing and maneuvering around return fire during its terminal run. The NSM features a smaller warhead, and longer range than the Harpoon. Size wise, the’re pretty close in length (13 ft vs. 12.5 ft) but heavier (900 lb vs. 691 lb). They both work fine in the deck mount, and can also go in the Mark 41.

            The LRASM is supposed to fit within the Mark 41 VLS, will give up to 300 nm range.

          • Andy

            Mk 41? On an LCS? That’s a new one for me; I’ve heard it more or less from the horse’s mouth that it can’t be done due to structural limitations inherent to the hull design. If you have a source that shows where and how they would put VLS on either variant I’d be interested in seeing it.

          • Duane

            Yes, the Mk 41 will be featured in the frigate variant. Read up on the Navy’s plans for this ship. It’s in the same hull form as the LCS, but it is going to be more heavily armed.

            Putting a Mk 41 on a frigate size ship is not a big deal, it’s been done already on several foreign frigates… they aren’t that big. You just have to build it into the design. The

          • Duane

            If the designers are told – as they have been, and are now working on said design – to design a frigate based on the LCS hull that incorporates a Mk 41VLS, they will do it, simple as that. All designs involve design choices. If they have to beef up the structure to support the Mk41, it would not require vastly changing the entire hull … just incorporating some stronger framing in the bay that contains the Mk 41, just like the designers did to support the 57 mm gun on the foredeck.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Got it. No source. Sigh…

            Your attitude is about what I expected from an LCS proponent.

            “Anything is possible, if you close your eyes, ignore past failures and just use your imagination!”

          • Duane

            Just read up on the new Frigate variant. It’s available. Do a little homework.

            LRASM long range anti ship cruise missile is designed to be fired from a Mk 41 VLS, or air dropped by an F-35C or Super Hornet. The Mk 41 VLS – the Navy’s standardized vertical missile launcher – will be incorporated into the new Frigate variant of the LCS now being designed. The new frigate will be based on the LCS hull, which is, after all, a frigate sized hull.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            You really don’t know what you are talking about do you?

            None of the proposed designs proposed for the US Navy have VLS.

          • Duane

            There are no published designs yet for the frigate variant of the LCS – just an order from the Navy to design one, and that it shall be armed with standard anti-ship missiles, which is by current definition, the Mk 41 VLS, the same standard missile launcher used on our other combatant ships and on certain allied ships including frigates.

            Deny this all you want, but it doesn’t change the underlying facts of where the next generation of LCS – now officially renamed a “frigate” – are going.

    • Only an experienced real world engineer would quote from “Auqustine’s Laws”. The Navy pretends that they’re employing Kelly Johnson only to find out that they hired “Madman” Muntz. (I’d provide a link, but the site’s too picky. Google will suffice.)

  • PolicyWonk

    The Navy will need a larger engineering directorate as it grows the fleet in coming years, to avoid problems faced in past ship classes like the Littoral Combat Ship and the Zumwalt guided missile destroyer…

    With LCS – the “hands off” aspect of designing that class was tantamount to a “create your own corporate welfare program” invitation. How else, pray tell, could one *possibly* come up with a “Littoral Combat Ship” that was “never intended to venture into the littorals to engage in combat” (according to former CNO Adm. Jonathan Greenert)?

    With the Zumwalt, the problem I see in the sentence above is that the DDG-1000 class were intended to be “land attack destroyers” (not “guided missile” as indicated above). When the class got cut down to 3 sea-frames, maybe it was time to remove the guns altogether until they figured out what to do w/r/t the ammunition for them, that would now become insanely expensive per shot, even in the unobtanium-plated world to today’s USN.

    Unlike both LCS classes, no one disputes that the DDG-1000’s were built to be *warships*. How they’ll be employed is an entirely different matter, because the original mission has been largely rendered pointless. They may have conservable stealth, but if they sail with a CSG, or ESG, the stealth is rendered all but useless in the company of non-stealthy platforms. They’ll likely be relegated to spying missions, or otherwise deployed with SSN’s or SSGN’s (other stealth platforms) if they’re going to be effective.

    The lessons learned from the DDG-1000s will hopefully be applied to the next destroyer or cruiser classes, as was what happened with the SSN Seawolf class boats, the lessons of which were used to develop the very successful Virginia-class SSNs.

    The best thing that could possibly happen, would be a complete extirpation and replacement of the entire DoD acquisition system – which aided/abetted this craziness that passes for today’s acquisition processes. All it does now is ensure the US taxpayer gets reamed more efficiently than any other taxpayer in the Western world.

  • Ed L

    Hopefully A Naval Engineers, who served in Operations, Supply, Deck, Weapons, Engineering, etc Department in Warships with a fair amount of Common Sense

  • Lazarus

    VADM Moore’s history is correct, but more USN civilian engineers in NAVSEA may not necessarily mean a better product that is delivered any faster than DDG 1000 or LCS. The FFG 7 was designed and built with plenty of USN civilian engineer oversight, yet went from being a $50m design to cost combatant to $194m per unit by 1980. The first AEGIS cruiser was 8 years late and cost $1b to deliver in 1983 despite significant USN civilian and military engineer brainpower at work. How long until these new engineers are characterized as excess personnel? What is really needed is significant defense acquisition reform in the form of fixed price contracting, less bureaucratic procedure and less focus on test and evaluation for complex systems like warships, It is a lot easier to build and test prototype vehicles and aircraft than even small warships. Advanced technology, whether AEGIS or integrated electric drive takes time and money to develop.

    • Curtis Conway

      Speed, cost and politics . . . great design criteria for a combat ship?

      • Lazarus

        Speed is useful in tactical and operational situations. Cost matters more than any other factor; especially in getting to 350 ships to satisfy global presence requirements along with warfighting. Politics plays a role, but not where you think. Too many people seem to associate LCS and DDG 1000 with the Obama admin and SECNAV Mabus, but both ships originated during Bush 43 and had their beginnings during Clinton.

        As to your suggestion that no “combatant” should go to sea without multiple capabilities; that is but one definition. There are many levels of surface combatant classification; from CG 47 down to PC-1 class.

        • Curtis Conway

          Mark my comments below about the MkVI and Navy Attack Helos.

          If a US naval vessel is to receive the title of Surface Combatant it should have capability in every naval warfare area so some relevant extent given its projected operational environment given the threats likely to be encountered. If it does not, you introduce a vessel into an environment where it will be vulnerable to enemy attack which does not honor our sailor’s sacrificial service. The arguments that different ships will have different missions and ‘always steam together’ is a fallacy the US Navy gave up decades ago for we cannot afford a fleet that large. The ability of any specific Surface Combatant platform to survive an attack also must once again return to standards that honors our sailors. The LCS is a disgrace given it inability to either defend itself when independent steaming, or remain afloat after taking damage. The protestations of an equivalency of LCS crewmen to that of Nuclear Submariner’s performance level ignores the fact that every NUC is equivalent to a Junior in a Major Engineering University. We have High School Graduates manning the LCS(s).

          Three levels of surface combatants has been an equation that has served the US, and other navies, for over a century (Cruisers-Destroyers-Frigates). The majority of the planet’s oceans can be patrolled by a modern automated multi-warfare frigate, defend itself, and project power to a limited extent if required. If the new Uber Frigate’s hull is ice-hardened, then that patrol area could include Arctic, and Antarctic waters, all supported by the same Hull, Machinery, and Equipment. The ability to steam in ice-infested waters precludes the use of a rubber-window equipped sonar element. That ASW sensor facility would come from towed array & variable depth sonars, in conjunction with an ASW helicopter. When incorporating ASW equipment aboard a patrol sized vessel, it will take up a significant amount of space and displacement. Therefore, it is my belief that an ASW-centric version of an Uber Frigate that still has limited AAW capability (ESSM-SeaRAM), mostly in the form of missiles in the Vertical Launch System or perhaps Mk29 launcher . . . and both the ASW & AAW-centric units incorporate a very capable non-rotating 3D AESA radar. That radar brings with it an instant recognition, without a second of delay, the capability of:
          • 3D Air & Surface Surveillance w/ Fire Control capability Horizon to Zenith 360⁰
          • Theater Ballistic Missile Defense Capability at least to the lower atmospere
          • Instant Periscope Detection
          • Surface Gun Fire, Naval Gun Fire Support & Counter-battery Support
          • ECM Support
          • IFF Interrogation, Identification & Classification Support
          • Weather Tracking/Warning
          • Aircraft Control Functions
          • ECCM Support
          • EO/IR Queuing & Coordination (Push & Pull) via Wide-band Receivers
          • Passive Capabilities
          This radar will have to have huge track stores in the new operational environment in which we now find ourselves with drones ranging in size down to that of an insect. A high-speed computational capability, intelligent algorithm support, and memory will have to be significant, redundant, and reliable. All of this coordinated with a very capable Passive Sensor (EMCON) capability that could support combat operations when so employed.

          With the advent and future introduction of a Hyper Velocity Projectiles, the Uber Frigate should have a 5’ gun. This design requirement necessitates a primary support structure that facilitates this installation, while not interfering with other systems, particularly a VLS and sensitive sensors that may be nearby. The advent of the Mk57 VLS facilitates the addition of missiles to a platform that removes proximity of some if not all of the missiles from the gun mount.

          The most significant argument for an all-ocean, ice-hardened hull vessel is the ability to operate for extended periods in the Arctic/Antarctic where tasking is sure to increase. If we invest $1 Billion/each then this will become a key capability for presence missions, and combat operations in regions heretofore not considered for which we must have a contingency. That single capability is a compelling argument to develop this very capable Uber Frigate to operate where we dare not send our Aegis CG/DDGs when ice is present in the Arctic up to a meter thick. This elemental portion of the new Uber Frigate would be one of the set-pieces in the Arctic Presence that would also include that of the very capable new Icebreakers that should necessarily be more than just an Icebreaker. The new Icebreakers (heavy & medium) should be a cross of an LCC/LHD/LPD capable vessel that also is the lead platform in the line blazing the trail through thick ice with the new Uber Frigate in trail. In this equation the Uber Frigate will represent a fractional combat capability of the CG/DDG currently populating the fleets, and take that capability above the Arctic Circle reliably & consistently. The Icebreaker would need to provide Arsenal Ship support. An additional element would necessarily be a VSTOL/STOVL AEW&C aircraft capable of operating off of any USN flight deck. This element alone in necessary for Arctic Operations, but will provide a capability to the fleet heretofore not available (e.g., worldwide total force multiplier). Unmanned aerial vehicle support would also be a requirement for the Icebreaker and Uber Frigate.
          The musings of a ‘common hull’ support the ‘logistical HM&E savings in time’ concept, given that huge budget item over time is significant, but one cannot forget the hull form of the DDG-51 Class was developed for a reason, for there are places we will send CG-47 Class vessels only in a pinch, and only during certain times of the year, and neither platform should ever be introduced into ice-infested waters.
          Concerning the replacement of ‘PC/MCM/frigates concept with LCS’, the LCS makes a fairly good but expensive MCM ship, and we will have enough of them for that purpose. The cost of that platform with its increased aviation support makes it perfect for supporting SOF operations whose tasking is increasing around the globe. As for the PC question, a mother-ship with MkVI gunboats or similar with a naval attack helicopters would be the solution for this requirement. In fact this solution accompanied by an Uber Frigate or two could handle most of the Persian Gulf requirement given their range and combat capability. The LCS is inappropriate for this tasking given its current combat capability. Even Saudi Arabia has recognized this and they live there.

          The comment “…DDG-1000 is, it’s going to be akin to the Seawolf program” is wholly inappropriate, for it completely ignores the difference of the operational environments, and threats in that specific environment. The Seawolf Class submarine commands the waters in which it operates. The DD-1000 lacks the Aegis AAW combat system capability which is the primary threat to that platform in the modern battle space making it wholly inappropriate for an ISE presence mission in a high threat environment. NOT the description of a Destroyer!

          This very discussion heretofore, when OP-05 was wholly manned by experienced and qualified personnel, would never have taken place in the open press, and the solutions they would have provided would have met the challenges of the future.

          • Lazarus

            OP-05? That’s before the 1992 OPNAV reorg? You seem to be limited to a 1980’s mindset on force structure and operations. The “frigate” (FFG 7 with area air defense) today is a dead ship walking. It is too expensive for what limited capability (48 VLS cells or less) that it provides. It cannot survive more than one major ASCM salvo (if that,) and at more than $1b is not cost effective. Today’s “destroyer” is a cruise in any other navy. The LCS is much more akin to the DD of old in that it will operate in flotillas and is (frankly) expendable. Better to lose one of three LCS and 1/3 of your capability than one large frigate and lose it all!

          • James B.

            Comparing an LCS to an old fleet destroyer ignores the balance of the old fast battlegroups those destroyers fit into: the LCS is simply not designed to fit well into a modern CSG.

            In the (WW II) fast battlegroup, the DDs could do roughly the same speed as the carriers, cruisers, and fast battleships, so they weren’t wasting speed by keeping with the heavy fleet. For the LCS to operate in company with a 30-knot CSG will defeat the point of its sprint speed. An LCS will essentially be dragging half the engineering plant around as dead weight everywhere it goes.

            Old DDs were also armed in ways much more useful to the old CSG: DDs carried the 5″/38 guns which were the standard for air defense, so multiple DDs could equal the anti-air capability of a cruiser or battleship. LCS could probably (but don’t currently) carry ESSM, but they are still vastly outranged by the real air-defense ships in a CSG.

            Offensively, destroyers carried torpedoes, giving them a limited capability against larger enemy ships. In the most generous notional configuration, an LCS could carry 4-8 Harpoon/NSM, allowing it do once what a division of Hornets can do many times, quicker, and at greater range. Or a CG/DDG can load vertically-launched antiship missiles, and carry the punch of several LCS alongside their air-defense load.

            The irony is that the LCS could probably fit enough VLS and radar to be a lethal member of a CSG, if not for the complicated and oversized engineering plant. How much is ridiculous speed worth now?

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            We’ll put.

  • James B.

    I wouldn’t blame the lack of NAVSEA engineers for everything too quickly. The programs which were true duds have serious conceptual errors across their entire scope, beyond any amount of engineering to fix.

    The LCS still doesn’t make sense even as the Navy is trying to salvage some use out of the hulls they are stuck with. The DDG-1000 is a land-attack destroyer in the era of cheap and prevalent coast-defense cruise missiles. Those two designs are also radically different in size, suggesting an unfocused bureaucracy at work.

    • Curtis Conway

      I’m afraid I will continue in the mindset of the department was rid of its Traditionalist that remembered their Oath and looked out for our sailors and their well being, instead of turning into budgeteers who built things that were flashy and had no real capability in the modern battle space on balance. The redefinition of survivability from watertight integrity and compartmentalization to offensive combat capability, then neutered the platforms of defense in dept with meaningful weapons (LCS and even the new frigate design), was a travesty in my book. SeaRAM does not an ‘AAW capability’ make, and anyone who represents it that way has an agenda, NOT the health, welfare, safety and longevity of our sailors in mind. US Navy Regulations were written in BLOOD, not the whims of some design engineer who had an agenda. We should honor their memory hard won, and the safety they sacrificed for in combat. Few think this way today . . . to our detriment and peril.

  • CWO4 (ret.) A. M. Herd

    Every Navy man knows the worst people to fix a broken ship is the “experts” from any shipyard. They all learn the hard way that most yard workers care only about their paycheck and know they can do a lousy job and some poor overworked, underpaid sailor will be tasked with making the shoddy, overpriced, and in some cases, poorly designed and built piece of crap sent out to our Navy work.
    What ever happened to the “Pride in workmanship ” that allowed our old ships to serve for decades past their prime ?
    Government contractors need to take a page from the head coach of the New England Patriots, and “do the job we pay you to do”.
    As a proud old repair tech, let me say “this is my two cents.

    • Angie Nathan

      Everything is run from an office cubicle nowadays. The bean counters do not think that cooks in the kitchen are necessary. “Train” the dishwasher and get layers of management to supervise him. The dishwasher likes the pay raise, the company likes the authority, control, and thinking about the couple of bucks they saved by getting rid of the cook. After all, think of all the money that can be saved by baking bread at 200 degrees instead of 400.

  • Curtis Conway

    “…Navy-dictated ship specifications and towards contractor-friendly “performance-based specifications,…” . . . The US Navy shirked their responsibility, and abrogated US Navy regulations paid for by Patriotic Blood to make themselves feel good while they saved money on building so called Surface Combatants like the throw away LCS that cannot defend itself, even in its upgraded frigate form.

    “… a performance requirement led to “unique solutions” in components that otherwise could have been common with other ship classes, complicating the sustainment of the ship class.” YES!!! Made it nigh on impossible! Like the LCS Program, a logistics support equation that is not supportable, and makes no sense from an economic, cost effective, point of view, and that is before we even consider combat capability, and survivability as it has traditionally been defined, before that term was redefined to mean something else.
    Having read the article and the twist and turns it takes to EXPLAIN decisions made and paths taken, I saw little if any consideration for Combat Capability even mentioned in the development of these respective ship classes. It has been as if it was an afterthought, except in the LCS case where speed was considered a true capability, where in fact it makes the vessel easier to target in the modern battle space, and when found, cannot defend itself from the most likely, and prolifically available ASCMs (some supersonic) on the international market.

    • What do you expect from a generation brought up at a time when almost nothing is expected to be repaired? The kid can’t work on his car anymore because the “computer” does everything and the tools are so specialized that they are prohibitively expensive. When is the last time you saw a “hobby shop” on a military base? They use to have them for cars, carpentry and the like (maybe they still do – it’s been 40 years since I’ve turned in my canoe club membership card).
      Back to the generational issue – everything is replaceable and nothing is repairable; and just-in-time inventory works every time. I even bet Amazon is working on long range resupply drones for the fleet (soon we’ll do away with VERTREPs and think of how much money that will save).
      This is what happens when your kid goes to a school system that considers a Boy Scout pocket knife a dangerous weapon.

      • Aubrey

        This is not the really the time or place for this, but what you mention is a huge problem in the modern US. I know we like to heap criticism and blame on the millennial and younger generations, but the simple fact of the matter is: WE FAILED THEM.

        WE* – the boomers and GenXers – took away shop classes. We also took away literature, art and music and then wonder why the “kids” have no exposure to, or curiosity for, reading and the finer things in life. We took away PE and wonder why they’re fat. We protected them in cocoons of pure “safety” so they could never be hurt physically, mentally or emotionally and we wonder why they’re weak.

        *Yes, there are exceptions – I am going “big picture” here.

        While us “old bastards” are still in positions of power, we need to really think about just what responsibility we bear…and fix things. First and foremost, to me, would be legitimate opportunities in middle and high school for vocational and practical education, beginning with shop class and working up to full-on training (opportunities I had in high school, but that none of the kids I coach currently have).

        • “WE” is the guilt trip inculcated by Cultural Marxism’s expropriation of our society’s institutions. It is no accident that WE have arrived at this juncture. Many saw it coming and were forced to drink from Socrates’ cup. And whereas I do not explicitly blame the current generation for the predicament in which they have found themselves, neither do I pity them if they lack the courage and moral fortitude to extricate themselves from this dilemma. Put down the iPhone, get off of Fakebook (or what ever the latest fad is), turn off the rap music and educate yourself. It worked for Lincoln, Edison and many, many more. Stop chasing after worthless credentials that will only leave you in debt with a mortgaged future.
          If there is a case for pity – then pity all the generations who have sowed the wind.

        • Curtis Conway

          You left out respect for G-d and his magnificent creation, and Law He gave us, which is the Operations & Maintenance Manual for mankind. Disrespect G-d, and things will not go well with you, for you are following the example of the actor in the garden in the form of a serpent.

          • Aubrey

            I once shared your faith. I no longer do. If you decide that makes me a lesser man, makes me a serpent and a devil, then….the problem is yours, I’d say.

      • Curtis Conway

        AMEN, and AMEN. Drain The Swamp. Thank G-d for President Donald J. Trump!

  • Stephen

    The large & multi-talented group of naval design architects, that once resided in our Naval Shipyards, have faded into the mists of time. Remember, they designed, repaired & built ships!

    • Fred Gould

      2250’s comes to mind

  • Bo

    Requirements should always drive the procurement train; else, we end up with high-cost boondoggles such as we have seen not only in the Navy but also in Afghanistan and Iraq.

  • RobM1981

    What we really need is to spend more money. These ships “went to the lowest bidders,” right? I mean, look at the price tags on these vessels. It’s not like we’re paying top dollar, or anything…

  • kaamAdmi

    You can lay off ships and sailors but not the officers. Officers will always create new posts and directorates to save their own jobs. When their were no super computers to assist ship designers and US fleet was largest in the world directorates were much less in number and small in manpower

  • JohnHenree

    And the guy who has been the head buyer for the navy for 8 years, ASN-RDA Stackley, and LPD program manager before that, somehow is slippery enough to evade any responsibility? Come on people, MCCain is onto Stackley and the nation should not reward his utter incompetence with the acquisition job at the Pentagon. His fingerprints are all over these problems.

    • airider

      He inherited all of it from his Rumsfeld predecessors…Donald Rumsfeld and the Clinton Administration before this, set the Navy on this screwed up path.

  • kaamAdmi

    For some friends who are compering LCS (only single mission package costs) with the German F-125 frigate I would suggest to check what equipment, sensors, decoys and weapons are carried on f-125. Also count helicopters, boats and landing crafts. All at all times. No need for transformation of roles. F-125 is not a transgender thing. The war horse will stay at sea and fight while ponies shuttles from port to port for trance…..

  • Yes, the Navy needs to hire new engineers and this is the way they do it:
    1) Hire untainted young guys with no bad habits as trainees (I’m OK with this as long as quotas, affirmative action or H-1B visas are NOT involved).
    2) Retain/rehire as many of the engineers of the Spruance hull generation as you can find (before they kick the bucket or go senile).
    3) Have the old guys train the kids so that the kids find out what’s actually happening under all of that CAD/CAM and instill principles such as conservative design margin, backup and redundant systems that have been traditional staples of warship design.
    4) Don’t reinvent anything that is already working.
    5) If we can re-use carrier anchors, we can re-use a lot more (I encourage rummaging thru salvage yards – even if you can’t get the stuff to work, at least you can figure out how it was built and build it again).
    6) Have all of the engineers associated with the current design debacles make coffee and run copy machines for the new hires (actually I’d make them do drafting, but if they were ever any good at this in the first place we wouldn’t be here now would we?)
    7) They also might be good for pulling salvage parts; they all should be required to take a six month first hand tour of tanks, bilges and voids to develop an appreciation for the preservation techniques that are vital to maintain a warship.
    8) One last thing for the designers – they will be required from time to time ride the ships they are designing; either for sea trials, certifications or in the event of war breaking out. In my experience I have found that there is nothing that will more focus a shipbuilder’s attention than to know that he will be aboard that new construction submarine the first time it is taken to test depth.

  • @USS_Fallujah

    This is a very important step to ensure design & procurement match program requirements, but NavSea (and NavAir) need a change in philosophy to ensure a larger navy can be built and sustained at affordable cost. Namely they need to look to incremental design improvements and focus on open architecture and leverage COTS technology. In the case of the Ford Class this would mean a hull/deck redesign with new reactor/propulsion & electric grid upgrade separate from other, more risky technology inserts (looking at you EMALS & AAG!). Moving away from radical change in fleet architecture (looking at you DDG-1000 & LCS – BTW anyone around who worked on SC-21 should be frog marched out ASAP) in favor of leveraging existing and mature platforms (LH(X) from LPD-17, a FFG from the DDG-51 and continued evolution of the DDG program akin to the success of the Virginia Class SSN).

  • Angie Nathan

    As long as the checks clear the bank, circus circus will continue. The problem with the LCS programs is the culture. The culture in which the contracts for ships were awarded, now sustained, and the culture in which they are being built.

    Despite an all out effort to spin and suppress obvious red flags as a normal process of shipbuilding, these failures will continue to surface until the currency of excuses and promises for future improvements will have no value.

    It has been a big night out at the casino and the taxpayers will be stuck with the brunt of hangover unless there is a shakedown from top to bottom.

    More engineers? In keeping with present practices, this would be a temp agency like scenario where these workers would be billed out to occupy a desk and disincentivised to identify any significant issues.

    The responsible thing for both shipyards to do would be to admit that they are lousy contractors and that they are unable to build the ships that they were awarded to build, and step away. The next most responsible thing to do would be to have the FBI immediately seize all financial records and start the process of prosecuting….we all have dreams.

    • Curtis Conway

      AND the US Coast Guard’s National Security Cutters continue to steam in numbers, with an exceptional performance record, whose hull have much growth space and excess displacement for additional combat systems.

  • disqus_89uuCprLIv

    In the 1980’s the Government changed the civilian retirement system making it less generous than the legacy system. All engineers who were long-time govt employees were grand-fathered through to their retirement. Those who had only a short time in govt service bailed out and were hired by contractors.
    After the new system went into operation the govt had difficulty hiring first rate engineers against competition from govt contractors.

    Contractors paid more and picked off the A and B average engineer graduates. C average ones went to work for the govt. Now I am stating this as a generality not as comprehensive in all cases. Some great engineers work for the govt but many opted not to do so.

    In the ’60s, NAVSEA developed ship plans with assistance from contractors. In the ’80s and ’90s after several budget cuts, NAVSEA relied on contractors to create plans which NAVSEA assessed, altered and ultimately approved. Subsequently, Congress and DoD politically appointed executives decided that Industry could do a better job than govt in creating and building warships. The LCS is an example of this kind of thinking.

    The frustration the Navy EDOs feel has to be practically overwhelming. The Navy acquisition community does not have the manpower (people power if you must) to create USN ships in-house. Navy EDOs are some of the most educated, talented and experienced engineers in the country. They have to manage Navy acquisition programs with inadequate staffing, politically connected contractors, constant pressure from Congress to plan, buy and build ships more cheaply (while contractors push for more money to plan, sell and build ships.)

    The acquisition system and its DoD appointees and lawyers have created an adversarial relationship between the Navy contracting structure and the contractor industrial base in almost all cases. SSPO and the TRIDENT program being the major (and historical) exception.

    Cheaper ships will not come about until the Navy has a solid, well-tested and reliable set of ship designs. Currently the Navy must deal with warship designs on a serial basis, creating one of a class at a time while being unable to plan and produce designs for next generation ships and work out the advancements through current ship builds.

    The LCS program attempted to do a build-refine-build sequence but got pre-empted into a USN-funded ship builder “build-off” of several designs. Commonality for budget savings put gear into each ship which are prone to teething problems. Sequencing, even rapid prototyping, would have identified and addressed critical technical problems which inhibit full and reliable employment of the vessels before the next flight of vessels was built

    The Zumwalt class DDG is certainly an expensive program but it has the potential to work out the initial installation and employment problems associated with radical new technology insertions. If, as it appears likely, each subsequent Z-ship will benefit from the solutions, redesigns and flat-out replacement of failed equipment and invalid concepts. The LCS program is having a great deal of trouble doing this because it must fix similar problems in each version simultaneously with many “fixes” having to be uniquely tailored to each ship.

    In World War-II the German Navy possessed destroyers with engines that were engineering marvels but they required constant maintenance and were always technically troubled by having being designed with engineering excellence in mind rather than the rigors of seakeeping and seafighting. US WW-II destroyers had limitations but because they were built in quantity for use by trained sailors rather than engineers, they operated well. Each class provided a set of lessons learned which when incorporated into the subsequent classes (which due to wartime requirements were rapidly built) enable innovation, repurposing, upgrades and improved reliability. Innovation was possible because it was demanded by the fleet operators who took their ideas directly to BuShips (NAVSEA’s predecessor.)

    My apologies for the long review but this is a subject with a long history.

  • Andrew Doolittle

    The America Class did not suffer from these issues so this sure sounds like a problem with the US Navy as “not first in class.”

    We’ll see if a President Trump can say no to single weapons system and go from there would appear as “the War on Terror” spawns ten or fifteen B-29 Bomber issues.