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Report to Congress on Littoral Combat Ship Program

The following is the Aug 16, 2018 Congressional Research Service report, Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the Report:

The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is a relatively inexpensive surface combatant equipped with modular mission packages. Navy plans call for procuring a total of 32 LCSs. The first LCS was procured in FY2005, and the Navy’s proposed FY2018 budget requested the procurement of the 30th and 31st LCSs. As part of its action on the Navy’s proposed FY2018 budget, Congress procured three LCSs—one more than the two that were requested. Thus, a total of 32 LCSs have been procured through FY2018.

The Navy’s proposed FY2019 budget, which was submitted to Congress before Congress finalized action on the Navy’s FY2018 budget, requests $646.2 million for the procurement of one LCS. If Congress had procured two LCSs in FY2018, as requested by the Navy, the LCS requested for procurement in FY2019 would have been the 32nd LCS. With the procurement of three LCSs in FY2018, the LCS requested for procurement in FY2019 would be the 33rd LCS.

The Navy’s plan for achieving and maintaining a 355-ship fleet includes a goal for achieving and maintaining a force of 52 small surface combatants (SSCs). The Navy’s plan for achieving that goal is to procure 32 LCSs, and then procure 20 new frigates, called FFG(X)s, with the first FFG(X) to be procured in FY2020. Multiple industry teams are now competing for the FFG(X) program. The design of the FFG(X) is to be based on either an LCS design or a different existing hull design. The FFG(X) program is covered in another CRS report.

The LCS program includes two very different LCS designs. One was developed by an industry team led by Lockheed; the other was developed by an industry team that was then led by General Dynamics. LCS procurement has been divided evenly between the two designs. The design developed by the Lockheed-led team is built at the Marinette Marine shipyard at Marinette, WI, with Lockheed as the prime contractor; the design developed by the team that was led by General Dynamics is built at the Austal USA shipyard at Mobile, AL, with Austal USA as the prime contractor.

The LCS program has been controversial over the years due to past cost growth, design and construction issues with the first LCSs, concerns over the survivability of LCSs (i.e., their ability to withstand battle damage), concerns over whether LCSs are sufficiently armed and would be able to perform their stated missions effectively, and concerns over the development and testing of the modular mission packages for LCSs. The Navy’s execution of the program has been a matter of congressional oversight attention for several years. Issues for Congress for the LCS program for FY2019 include the following:

  • the number of LCSs to procure in FY2019;
  • the Navy’s proposal to procure a final LCS in FY2019 and then shift to procurement of FFG(X)s starting in FY2020;
  • a July 2018 Department of Defense (DOD) Inspector General (IG) report regarding IOC dates for LCS mine countermeasures (MCM) mission package systems;
  • survivability, lethality, technical risk, and test and evaluation issues relating to LCSs and their mission packages; and
  • LCS deployments in 2018.


via fas.org

  • Bubblehead

    Glorified minesweeper (eventually).

    • proudrino

      Only if the MCM “modular” package reaches IOC.

    • Duane

      Glorified internet troll. Already.

      • Rocco

        He make more sense than you do!!! 😂 Ha Ha,,,,!

    • NavySubNuke

      On the bright side they should at least be able to sweep 1 mine each. If they are going fast enough at the time or the mines are really close together they might even get 2!

    • Jrggrop

      Nothing to complain about, given how dire a shortage there is of minesweepers. The old Avenger class cost more than $300 million each, adjusted for inflation.

    • vetww2

      Don’t denigrate minesweepers.

    • LazyFlyBall

      And that’s a good thing. We slightly overpaid for self-deployable minesweeping patrol craft. They’re not frigates or littoral combat anythings, they’re just expensive MCM-PCs, and that’s ok.

      They’ll end up pioneering vtol mcm drones (firescout), lightweight oth missiles (nsm), and later mcm and armed usvs, all deployed from a small combatant.

      All that stuff will eventually be mainstream on every vessel in the rest of the fleet. And people are complaining about training vessels? Testing all that aboard LCS is kind of a bargain, even if their deployment rate has struggled.

  • proudrino

    Break out the industrial strength Kool-Aid. The LCS advocates are going to be all over this thread extolling the “value” of this underwhelming platform.

    I do take exception with the report’s comment that the LCS is equipped with modular mission packages. That would be true if the Navy could easily swap out the mission packages so that relatively quickly a platform could change missions. As it is, swapping out a package takes too long and involves extensive in-port maintenance.

    • Lazarus

      Swapping modules always involved in port maintenance. The Navy could still swap most elements of LCS modules if it chose to do so. The capability has not changed; its just a choice.

      • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

        The technical capability (maybe) exists, but module-swapping was deemed impractical from a logistical standpoint.

        • Lazarus

          Nope, it was a decision made out of fear of then SECDEF Carter and the Senate Armed Service’s committee threatening to cut funding. No real analysis out there for or against module swapping as a concept.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            No, Laz. A Flag-level study from over five years ago showed that module swapping as originally packaged and sold was a pipe dream.

            Ref exec summary of the (RDML) Perez report released July 23, 2013. Available on USNI:

            “Originally, designers envisioned modularity as a method to quickly swap out MPs, providing the ship with a tactical means of shifting from one mission to another. Logistic realities, especially those with forward-deployed naval forces, indicate that the timeline for an MP exchange will depend largely on in-theater logistics resources and capabilities. The logistics and training realities tied to conducting MP change-outs leads most operational commanders to predict that LCSs will retain their embarked MPs for extended periods of time…”

            Translation: Tactical-level module swapping as originally postulated (swap out in 96 hrs) only works if one completely wishes away logistics, training and manpower realities. Navy operational commanders saw this and pointed it out. As a result: the module swapping concept was eventually dumped.

          • vetww2

            SEAMOD never envisioned mission module swap in less than 45 to 60 days.

    • Duane

      Swapping modules is a 1-2 day task, no big deal whatsoever.

      The modules swap is easy. But the notion of a swap from one sortie to the next did not make sense since about 1/3 of the total complement is module dedicated, crew continuity dictates that the module swaps be performed when the entire crew swaps out. Which is about every six months.

      Swapping the hardware is easy peasy. It is really weird that the LCS haters love to hate on this capability, which no other warship on the planet can duplicate.

      But LCS haters are just weird, period. What kind of a weirdo gets off on hating an inanimate ship, anyway? It is a mental pathology.

      • Chesapeakeguy

        The modules swap MIGHT go quickly if precise planning is implemented and adhered to. Of course, that ALWAYS happens in a WAR. The sailing time to a port for the swap(s) and then the sailing time back to where they are needed is never mentioned for some strange reason. But lo and behold, it all might be moot at this point. The Navy appears to be abandoning the multi-mission approach. They are going to change the number of ‘modules’ they procure with the upcoming budget. They are also combining the module crews with the ships crews they are deployed on, thus rendering those ships as basically single mission. These are not my words, they are the Navy’s. The January 16, 2018 issue of Defense News has some of that info in an article titled “Changes to LCS mission equipment coming in FY19 budget”. It quotes the LCS module program manager Capt. Ted Zobel extensively.

        Oh, and Duane, to answer your own question about ‘hating inanimate ships’, the same can be asked of YOU. YOU are the one who claims that the LCS is THE bests ship ever built, bar none, and you are always taking swipes at real combat ships in the process. So, WHY do you do that, hmmm?

        • Duane

          You are ignoring what I stated and which the Navy is doing. LCS do complete crew changes, re Blue and Gold crews, just like our SSBNs have been doing for the last 60 years, about every 4 to 6 months, so there is no lost down time or excess pier time involved in a MM changeout.

          A crew change has to take place in a port, at a pier, and is done in conjunction with a short routine planned maintenance availability that ALL ships go through about twice a year in between patrols. The incoming Blue or Gold crew will have already trained with the MM-specific crew prior to coming aboard, so there is no loss of continuity in the crew with a MM changeout.

          It is really an easy peasy concept to grasp and to carry out. After all, it has only been proven effective for the last 60 years on SSBNs.

          The skimmer command should have adopted the Blue-Gold crew model for LCS from the get-go. But it took the several engineering casualties back in 2015-2016 to hammer home the understanding that crew continuity is hugely important. You cannot change out 1/3 to 40% of the crew every time you leave the pier and expect good things to happen.

          The surface Navy lived (no dead sailors on LCS, ever) and learned. Better late than never.

          • Refguy

            But a crew change can (and will be) deferred in a war; but a module change can’t be deferred.

          • tom dolan

            Your correct that SSBN crews change out every six months but the nature of their mission is to hide in the ocean and provide a nuclear deterant. Blue and Gold crews are used because the SSBN can put back to sea with minimum maintenance and resupply so it makes sense to do it. It’s disingenuous to suggest that a Navy starved for men and women to serve in conventional roles should bare the additional burden of an inefficient platform soaking up people who could better serve the nation elsewhere. Ultimately you can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear no matter how many Congressional districts sew them

          • Chesapeakeguy

            The reason there are ‘dead sailors’ on other ships (and your glee at that is something that all can see) is because those ships were UNDERWAY, and DEPLOYED. The reins appear to be keep pretty tight on the LCS, including NO deployments this year AT ALL. The rationale for mission modules had nothing to do with changing out one crew for the other. The modules were supposed to be all about changing the ship to be able to perform a mission that was needed at that time. Period. In a shooting war, I’m sure the enemy will cooperate so the crews can be swapped along with the relevant modules, right?

            In an incremental application, the module approach might make sense. If the military/Navy conducted a campaign that prioritizes certain milestones to be achieved before other milestones are tackled, then swapping might work. But again, that might also requite a cooperative enemy. The fact remains that the Navy appears to abandoning many aspects of the module approach. They themselves seem to be saying that they are stuck with that they have now.

        • Rocco

          That’s because he has no fault ingrained in his perfect LCS world 🤣!!

      • Kypros

        I expect that it should go flawlessly……I mean, why wouldn’t it?

      • proudrino

        Your comments about the LCS would be more credible if you didn’t dismiss all criticism as weird. Like it or not, valid criticism cannot be dismissed.

      • Ctrot

        But LCS lovers are just weird, period. What kind of a weirdo gets off on loving an inanimate ship, anyway? It is a mental pathology.

        See, anyone can do that.

        • Duane

          You see, I am not emotional about LCS. Love is an emotion. I comment strictly on the basis of facts and logic.

          So no, the two sides (normal people who neither love nor hate on inanimate objects like ships … and weirdos like you and your fellow tiny little handful of trolling ship haters) are not alike. One side is normal, the other teeny tiny little handful of internet haters, is weird.

          • Rocco

            There’s two sides to every lie you tell Duane!

          • Ctrot

            Really, you don’t get emotional about LCS? Are you seriously going to make that claim? Even your last sentence in the above post betrays the lie in that claim. Not only is it emotional it isn’t even close to being factual.

          • Mk-Ultra

            Reading these comments, I’d have to say the “LCS haters” definitely get emotional towards anyone who disagrees with them or simply say they like the LCS and thunks they’re capable ships

          • vetww2

            YIPES, now psychology. What next, levitation?

        • Rocco

          Lol

      • RobM1981

        We have to pay for that inanimate object, remember? We’d like our money to be spent on inanimate objects that provide more capabilities for the money. We’d like to see our sailors, who we also value, deployed on platforms – inanimate though they may be – that provide them the best odds of success and safety.

        if that’s weird, then I’m weird.

        I think the LCS is a fine looking gunboat. The hangar makes it a “gunboat-plus.”

        I think building two separate hull designs – neither of which is much more than a gunboat – is a profligate waste of my money, specifically spent to grease wheels that were already too greased.

        • Rocco

          Kudos!! Here here!! Agreed!⚓️

      • vetww2

        You are out of your mind if you believe that. If they could swap out modules in 6 months it would be great, but now they are about to give up ANY swap and set one FIXED mission each.

  • PolicyWonk

    My favorite part is where they discuss Saudi Arabia buying four “modified” LCS!

    Those “modifications” make these the Saudi variants all but unrecognizable to the “ships” the taxpayers have been shafted into paying for.

    The lousy/scorching reports for the LCS program keep on pouring in from every independent auditing agency that has investigated/reviewed them and this monumentally incompetent program. Then there’s the Independence Class, that singlehandedly sucks the capacity out of every drydock on the west coast: our potential enemies probably couldn’t be happier (mission accomplished!).

    I wonder how the Duano-o-Laz is going to try to explain away the severe problems in the MCM mission package discovered by the Pentagons IG? He/she/it declared several days ago that the USN “ignored” the IG, seemingly forgetting that isn’t exactly a shining example of technical or administrative competence, especially since the modules do not work as claimed, and will require even more expensive repairs if/when they ever figure it out. The lack of integrity/competence w/r/t the bunch that are running this program is breathtaking: they keep doing it despite being busted time and time again.

    One can only surmise that someone in that den of thieves has a lot of major 8X10 glossies on the high command.

    • Lazarus

      Your continued insults to hard working US navy and govt employees is the real insult here, as well as your utter lack of knowledge on how ships operate at sea.

      • Bubblehead

        Since the LCS is NOT at sea your entire argument is mute.

        • Duane

          LCS ARE at sea. Every week.

          Do you have any freaking notion of what “forward deployed” means, as compared to operating out of a domestic home port? Do you have any inkling of the fact that at most, no more than 1/3 of all operating USN warships of any ship type are ever “forward deployed”? And several ship types seldom if ever “forward deploy”.

          You claim to be a sub sailor, but your comments suggest otherwise. All US Ohio Class SSBNs are based out of US home ports and never ever “forward deploy” … they perform patrols, period.

          SSNs “forward deploy” only occasionally, yet they go to sea all the time. In my four years duty on a 637 class SSN, we did a grand total of one forward deployment, a “West Pac”, lasting 6 months, out of 4 years. But other than our 13-month refueling overhaul at PSNS, we were ALWAYS going to sea, virtually every week on weekly ops, training, equipment testing and integration, etc. My boat spent many weeks testing and integrating DSRV, and we performed the very first submerged launch of a Harpoon.

          Plus we did a couple of 60-65 day patrols to the mid-Pacific and the Arctic Ocean. Only the 6-month West Pac was called a “forward deployment”.

          Everything else was just called “going to sea.”

          There is no practical difference anyway between forward deployment and going on patrol out of a domestic home port. You are still at sea and on patrol and performing most of the same evolutions.

          I swear, USNI is infested with commenters who pretend to be USN vets but their comments reveal complete ignorance of real US Navy ops that a real vet would never display. Some are obvious Russian trolls and others are just pretenders and fakers.

          • Bubblehead

            Duane, don’t get your panties in a wad. The mere fact you can’t prove your point using facts (which I give you credit for because it is an impossible point to prove) so you have to use little childish silly insults.

            FYI, I have more time at test depth than you got sucking your mom’s xxxxxx.

            You are just in an outrage because yesterday your fantasy bubble world you live in bust because even the USN is begging for no more useless LCS, even the USN is saying they cannot deploy, even the USN says they are hogging up all the drydocks, even the USN says they have structural issues, and even the USN says they cannot survive in any sort of combat.

          • Rocco

            😂 lol

        • Rocco

          How do you justify that comment??

    • Bubblehead

      I was very skeptical when that report of MCM being fully tested and ready came out. It just didn’t seem right. Seemed too good to be true. USN is desperate to prove the LCS can do one thing right. And now we find out, again and again, it can’t.

      Donate the entire LCS fleet to the Philippines, if they will take them. If they say they do not want the POS then ask them how much $$$ they want to take them off our hands.

      • PolicyWonk

        Apparently, the MCM only had parts of it declared ready for IOC, and the Pentagon’s IG had problems with that declaration, as is noted in the report (more detail is available on DoD Buzz). The Duane-o-Laz happily announced that the USN ignored the report, as if that somehow makes things better for our war fighters.

        The history of the inglorious LCS program is such that its original concept (the “streetfighter” program, developed by the ONR in 2001) envisioned something unrecognizable from what it became, the only thing remaining that is recognizable is the deceitful designation “littoral combat ship”.

        It started as something very simple and inexpensive (estimated at ~$92M per sea frame); After the geniuses at PEO LCS usurped the money, the costs increased by an order of magnitude, the complexity increases so severe, the program delayed for so long, with so little to show for it, that now they are all too willing to jump the gun so they can pretend they delivered something useful. Part of the problem is that they skimped on construction (building to commercial grade, instead of to naval construction standards) to ‘save money”, while forgetting the obvious (hint: its supposed to be a warship).

        From $92M to $900M+, $36B taxpayer dollars blown, years behind schedule with years still to go, and staggering problems obviously remain (according to every auditing agency involved): yet the nation is still without a littoral combat solution, while other navies ships of similar (let alone half the) size are vastly better armed/protected (note: LCS sailors aren’t stupid – they are acutely aware of this lamentable fact).

        Somehow to the Duane-o-Laz, this is what is called success.

        I don’t know who’s side the Duane-o-Laz is on: but its NOT the side of the American taxpayers, or of the sailors that are ordered to man these floating corporate welfare programs (or as NSN calls them: “death traps”).

        • Kypros

          Yup, the 32 or so are what they are. Hopefully they will one day find a mission which can return SOME value to the taxpayer in the security of the United States, and be durable enough to stay in service long enough to be partly worth the effort. But to say that the LCS programs haven’t been a disaster in the way they’ve been implemented, developed and in their cost is simply ridiculous and pure propaganda.

          But moving forward, if these LCSs are chosen as the basis of FFGx, as our resident fans insist will happen, well then, this nightmare continues, and all I can see is money being funneled to the corrupt, rather than putting the security of the United Staes first and foremost.

          • PolicyWonk

            Concur.

            I believe the 2 LCS variants have the inside track w/r/t the FFG(X) “competition”, because PEO LCS (now USC) has never been above doubling down on obvious mistakes or outright deceitful behavior in the past.

            I truly hope I’m wrong.

      • Rocco

        Yeah but the taxpayers still paid for them!! Might as well use them for coastal patrols!!

        • Bubblehead

          USCG won’t take them. Why would they. They have the highly successful NSC & Cutter program which is twice the ship as LCS. LCS range 3000K miles, NSC 11K.

          The more I think about it, the more I think USN choses the NSC version for FFGX. Even though only the USN knows what was offered. Its the perfect compromise. All the other choices will draw ire. And after the LCS fiasco the USN just wants a solid ship, fast. It would require the USN to swallow its pride in choosing a CG ship. Although enough will have been changed to differentiate FFGX from NSC. With flat array radars, VLS & VDS it will be a vastly different ship. And American designed to satisfy the Commander N Chief.

          • Rocco

            Hey…. I never did say the cost guard should take them!! The navy should limit its roll to costal patrols search & rescue & ASW !. We could use a dedicated ship for this roll since there not much good at blue water distance! Agreed with your last paragraph.

          • PolicyWonk

            Given the Russkies increasing SSN fleet sorties, maybe keeping some of the wasteful LCS around US shores to replace the cost-effective trawlers we used to use to listen for Russian subs.

            OTOH, a friend of mine is a sub-driver (Virginia Block III), and he said they could track an LCS from a very, Very long way off. Much levity apparently ensued when the discussion changed to whether an LCS would be worth expending a torpedo over…

      • vetww2

        How about we start a cruise line for retired sailors?

    • ElmCityAle

      “Those “modifications” make these the Saudi variants all but unrecognizable to the “ships” the taxpayers have been shafted into paying for.”

      I’ve seen several descriptions of the Saudi variant, including the most recent public info from a vendor show early this year. I find it difficult to justify the above claim. The ship is completely recognizable externally. Depending upon which model/rendering viewed, the major changes are the additional of either one 8-cell MK 41 VLS for 32 ESSM behind the (moved up) 57mm gun or a pair of the same VLS near the 30mm gun modules locations; free standing 20mm guns instead of covered 30mm guns; and no stern doors. Launchers for 8 Harpoon missiles have been added. Internally, the claim is that the “mission bay” space is setup in a more permanent arrangement, including support for a larger crew.

      Yes, there are more weapons systems, because the defined mission requirements are different. And that’s a major point of contention in these LCS comment wars: the reasonable expectation for mission requirements, notably whether “peer” or larger sized enemy vessels should be expected and designed to fight and win against. That clearly was not the primary focus of the US Navy’s LCS design and the expected missions. I note that none of the concerns raised about “survivability” in terms of US Navy ratings would seem to be changing. So for those with those concerns: is this really a different, “better” ship?

      • PolicyWonk

        There are some visual elements that remain – but the ship itself is a vastly more responsible SSC, at a vastly superior price point than LCS. If these are what LCS had been – the USN likely wouldn’t have killed the program to build frigates.

        The PEO LCS (now USC) should’ve taken a primer from the Saudi’s on SSC’s and negotiating before they committed the USN to accept the monstrously expensive floating corporate welfare programs that have been imposed on the taxpayers.

        • Duane

          “Vastly” my as*. It is still 95% a Freedom LCS with just a few frames and an 8 cell VLS added … otherwise the Saudi MMCS IS a Freedom variant LCS.

        • The four Saudi frigates are expected to cost around $6b and the Saudi’s have already paid $930m for detail design and long lead items. So, no, they are very far from having a “vastly superior price point” to LCS.

          • Duane

            The $6B covers far more than the ships. That number covers all the missiles, torpedoes, etc. plus pays for all the port infrastructure to dock and maintain the ships. The actual cost for the ship itself, on an apples to apples basis, is most likely about the same as the Navy expects to pay for FFGX … that is, between $800 and $950M a copy delivered.

          • PolicyWonk

            The first four LCS cost more than that, and if the Saudi variants were built in a reasonable quantity, they would be a far better deal than the one the US taxpayers were shafted into (and are still) paying for.

            In short – we’d have a fleet of decently armed/protected SSCs (i.e. useful assets, instead of liabilities) and we likely wouldn’t be on our way to be building FFG(X).

          • Not even close. Adjusted to 2018 dollars, the construction of the first four LCS cost $3.12 billion – and those were first in class ships in a program that suffered from numerous pauses and restructuring while the Saudi ships are taking advantage of a hot production line.

            Further, the only thing the Saudi ships have that the American ships do not, is ESSM with 2 illuminators. In exchange for this very limited air defense capability, they sacrificed aviation, secondary guns, boat handling, top speed, MCM capabilities, possibly ASW capabilities, and likely service life margins. While that may be a good trade for a small navy where LCS is its primary warship, it would have been a terrible one for the USN.

          • Rocco

            Spot on kudos!!!

          • ElmCityAle

            A better version of the radar (TRS-4D) and 32 x ESSM (both AA and surface modes) are nothing to sneeze at and the secondary guns still exist, just 20mm vs. 30mm.

          • It’s certainly a useful capability for a small navy that lacks actual air-warfare ships, but with such a small radar and only two continuous-wave illuminators it can’t really do much more than limited self-defense. And a 30mm shell weighs roughly three times as much as a 20mm projectile and has something like five times the explosive filler.

          • ElmCityAle

            An AB DDG only has three illuminators and 25mm guns (added over time). You trade off rate of fire for shell size, too. These are interesting details, but the summary is the planned weapons systems are a significant improvement – with accompanying cost, of course – over the LCS variants. With different missions, those differences mean nothing – a ship sweeping mines is unlikely to need ESSM-level anti-air systems.

          • A Burke has the Aegis combat system, which allows it to time share illuminators and engage over a dozen targets simultaneously. The Saudi frigates don’t. I’m not arguing that it’s not an upgrade over LCS, I just don’t think it is as significant as some (not necessarily you) have made it out to be.

            The 25mm guns on the current US destroyers are indeed a weakness and I would like to see some combination of 30-57mm guns, lasers, and the LCS Hellfire module on the proposed Large Surface Combatant.

      • Rocco

        Agreed

    • Duane

      The only dif is stretching the hull by a few frames and adding a 8-cell VLS. Everything else being a Freedom LCS.

      Adding a Virginia Payload Module to a Virginia SSN doesn’t turn it into a CVN or an oiler. It is still a Virginia SSN.

      • vetww2

        Boy that sounds like, at least as good an idea as putting sponsons on the CV-41 (USS MIDWAY). Remember that one?

    • Lazarus

      I suspect you have about zero real knowledge on the LCS program.

  • Kypros

    I get the need to protect our industrial base. But I just hope that keeping the two LCS yards humming is not an excuse to inflict pier queen LCS based FFGs on the the security of the United States. Because let’s face it, the FFGs will be used hard for a long time and need to actually perform.

    • Lazarus

      Have you ever served at sea? Do you understand that no ship is a “pier queen” unless it has a specific technical defect that restricts its underway ability? All USN ships get used hard; even those that are employed in CONUS waters.

      • Kypros

        “None Deployed In 2018”. And before that, boutique single ship deployments, designed as demonstrators that an LSC can actually deploy somwehere.. They’ve been around for over a decade, yet we still hear how they can’t deploy because they need to be equipped, armed, crewed, trained, developed, repaired, etc, etc. I just hope that the US taxpayer gets SOME value for the cost of these ships, eventually. And the USN has yet to use these ship “hard”, they may be afraid to. I’ll accept them as eventual MCM ships or even ASW or Special Operations support. But they certainly aren’t Frigates.

        • Rocco

          Kudos agreed

        • Lazarus

          Try reading the real timeline of the LCS program. There were only two LCS until late 2012 and both were being used in experiments. There were only 4 LCS until 2014. The Navy can sustain single ship LCS deployments but DECIDED that this year it wanted to deploy at least 4, but sadly those useless shock trials made that a challenge. You folks need to look behind headlines before making blanket judgments.

      • Bubblehead

        Actually my last boat was nicknamed Bldg LMR (not going post the actual name) instead of the SSN nomenclature because it was trapped in the shipyard so long. And why was it trapped in the shipyard so long you ask? Because the shipyard workers had very little work except for my sub and were afraid of losing their jobs. Just a few days before we were finally scheduled to leave the shipyard,somebody “accidentally” dropped a wrench in the main reduction gears. Guess what we were there another year. Of course they found out who it was and he ended up in jail I think.

        There are also several subs permanently sitting pierside now because they have not had their underwater certifications completed because of lack of dry docks and qualified shipyards.

        • tom dolan

          He can be cellmate of the scumbag who started a fire on the USS Miami while she was drydocked because he wanted to go home early. …the sub destroyed and a number of seriously injured…thankfully none killed.

        • Lazarus

          Exactly. It takes an order in the wake of failed inspection to be “welded” to the pier.

  • Lazarus

    Not much changed from the last CRS report.

    • Duane

      Yeah, but the main result of each of these reports is to generate another round of LCS hating trolling at USNI.

    • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

      Annual CRS reports were mandated by Congress to summarize all the data. No changes is not necessarily a good thing.

      • Lazarus

        It is a running record with only a few new points per “issue.”

        • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

          It’s a one-stop document.
          Probably intended for staffers so that they can understand how we got to here.

          Your comment that not much has changed (in a year) is telling.

  • Robbie Roberts

    It will be at least a decade before we really see whether these ships strike the right balance, or whether a 2500t corvette/light frigate that can take on 500t of bluewater ballast would have been cheaper and more versatile. There is going to be a force of at least thirty ships regardless of what action is taken on the heavy frigate requirement, and ample time to decide the form of a future LCS or KK rather than rushing to build more now. Although peace time operations don’t necessarily tell the whole story, they do provide a return of some lessons learned, especially since part of their function are operations that are not directly military.

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    Page 12 is a treat

    Ships 1-4 they admitted are bricked… so will be designated “training ships”

    The remaining 28 are in 7 groups of 4 ships.
    1 of each 4 group is also for training, with the other 3 deployable.

    So out of the 32 ship fleet. 1/3rd will solely be used for “training”.

    Or to put it another way 1 training ship for every 2 ships that will ever be used properly.
    Now, theres a tragic ratio.

    Akin to building 20 Arleigh Burkes…. never to be used.

    • Duane

      No. Two ships of the first four are designated for training new construction crews. A role that will only last as long as new construction continues (another 5 years). Two more are dedicated temporarily to testing and integration of MM equipment, which work will wrap up in two years. The one in four doing training long term is no different than for any other US Navy ship type. Across all surface warship types the standard rotation is 1/3 forward deployed, 1/3 doing crew training and testing, and 1/3 in maintenance availability and overhaul.

      To train our Navy nukes a series of nuclear reactor prototypes were built in Idaho and New York and operated at great expense for decades, then later two former nuclear subs were retired and converted to pierside training ships to replace the old land based prototypes.

      Dedicated real ships and power plants that provide real world hands on training is very well proven as superior to just sending raw tech school grads out to the surface fleet, where they eff up and mess up a commissioned warship.

      What you are sneering at is proven training excellence at work.

      If you were an actual US Navy vet you would know all that … but then you are not.

      • tom dolan

        I’m a real US Navy veteran who thinks that this program is a waste which squandars limited dollars and personnel better spent elsewhere. My opinion is based on my experience at sea. You obviously disagree. Gentlemen can disagree without being disagreeable.

      • vetww2

        CONGRATULATIONS, You’ve hit the nail on the head. a schoolroom trained welder or physicist cannot amount to much without on the job, practical, provable experience,

    • Kypros

      Yes interesting, if a bit convoluted. I just wonder what HII is up to?

  • Ed L

    If I was in charge I pick the South Korean Gumdoksuri class patrol boat and the Incheon class Frigate.

  • airider

    Ugh, we’ve hit the 32 ship target for this class. The Navy doesn’t need another. New ship construction needs to end and lets close the book on this experiment. Time to start moving the resources to other needed areas.

    • Al L.

      33 or 34 would be good. LCS-1 is a frankenship due to all the changes made during design and construction. Its unlikely to make it to 25 years of useful life. LCS-2 has some of the same concerns. There is also a a 4 year gap between #1 and #3.

      Like it or not this class will be the Navy’s primary MIW asset for the next 3 decades. Given the historical antipathy of Navy leadership to spending on MIW ships, I think it is wise to get all that can be got while the gettin’s good. The Navy plans to buy 24 MIW modules, and this number is now thankfully set into law. Building 34 should allow for 24 MIW ships until about 2044. Hopefully by that time Navy leadership will care more about MIW.

      • Kypros

        Best argument I’ve heard for the additional builds, yet! If 24 actually become excellent mine warfare platforms, that would be some value.

        • PolicyWonk

          At nearly $920M each (including the MCM mission package) – they SHOULD be the finest MCM platforms anywhere.

          But given that it was recently demonstrated an EPF can do the same job at less than 1/4 the cost of an LCS, I’d rather the money was spent buying the frigates and SSN’s the USN so desperately needs.

      • Graeme Rymill

        From Breaking Defense 30 October 2017[ “Every Ship A Minesweeper? Navy Looks Beyond LCS”]

        “Only eight of those [LCS] ships will routinely carry Mine Counter-Measures (MCM) mission modules….With eight MCM LCS — four on each coast
        — and typical Navy cycles of maintenance, training at home, and
        deployment abroad, ‘what you end up with is about 2.3 LCSs on station at
        any one time,’ Capt. Mark Leavitt, commander of the Navy’s MH-53 wing, told the annual Expeditionary Warfare conference here. ‘2.3 is not a whole lot.’ ”

        Where are the rest of the MCMs going?
        2 to the LCSs devoted to testing
        1 as a spare
        4 to outfit LCS 29-32
        9 for use on other Vessels of Opportunity to meet the warfighting capability requirements and account for MCM maintenance cycles

        • Al L.

          That is the immediate plan. As we have seen plans for the LCS change regularly, which is what was intended, that’s why it is modular.

          What are we likely to see in the future?

          – It is highly unlikely we will see MIW assets regularly assigned to surface combatants other than LCS . Such a plan has been tried and experimented with before as evidenced by the garages built on 4 +- Burke destroyers. MIW is a location dependent activity with only certain areas suitable to effective mining. Even with off board remote systems, a vessel conducting MIW has reduced maneuverability. This hinders its other missions. It has not proven to work well.

          – If the FFG(x) ends up being built out to at least 20 ships as planned, it is likely the surface warfare mission everywhere but the Persian Gulf will migrate from LCS to FFG(X). The trend in the threat points to a ship like FFG (x) being more appropo most places than an SUW LCS. At the same time its going to be difficult for the Navy to argue its adequately attending to MIW with only 12 dedicated ships. The Navy has been criticized for under resourcing MIW with only 12 MIW ships in the Avengers. The Navy is one moderately challenging mining incident from being dragged into hearings and getting raked over the coals. With the MH-53E going away soon and unlikely to be replaced, more not equal or less MIW ships will be needed.

          – Use of MIW packages on “vessels of opportunity” such as ESB, EPF would be excellent, and should be explored and instituted. One excellent result of the LCS modular MIW effort is that MIW is no longer bolted to dedicated hulls and building MIW capacity is not dependent on shipyards. Flexible distribution of MIW capability enabled by continuing construction of modular MIW systems beyond the 24 in the program of record should be encouraged. However with the 10-20 ship gap in amphibious ships the Navy seems to be permanently stuck with and the limited number of ship to shore connectors, those ships are likely to be needed to narrow those gaps. With an amphibious landing being one of the scenarios that would require the most intense MIW, it would be unwise to bind those ships to MIW, unless significantly more are built.

          – Historically MIW ships have been viewed poorly by the larger Navy. They contribute little to missions other than MIW until needed, they are not seen as a favorable assignment for advancement, they are slow and create mobility and force protection problems, etc. LCS reverses this calculus especially with a modular MIW package. For example: need to respond to a disaster? Traditional MIW ship: nothing to do. LCS MIW: offload the heavier gear load up supplies and head to the disaster. This flexibility will favor maintaining more not less MIW ships.

          To sum up: Even what you stated above reflects the ongoing evolving plans for LCS. The quote reflects a 28 ship build, the numbers at the bottom a 32 ship build, and in between 4 more MIW LCS were added. The future is likely to see any LCS not essential for other missions to be reassigned to MIW if only because that is written into law: the Navy has to certify it can equal prior MIW capacity. With the Navy looking at years ahead where costs of top end ships (CVN’s SSBN’s) will eat up huge chunks of the ship budget it is unlikely we will see any dedicated MIW ship build for a long time. 32 LCS was the minimum number identified years ago to meet long term fleet needs. 24 MIW is the only LCS ship number that has held through the whole program. 2 of the current ships are compromised by changes made during their experimental builds. Those 2 should be replaced to maintain the Navy’s long term MIW capacity including MIW replacements for the next 20 + years.

          Beyond those 34 total, so long as the Navy is dedicated to building an appropriate SSC, LCS is not necessary to build a balanced fleet.

          • James B.

            The vessels of opportunity that could carry an MCM package will be better at the mission than the “purpose designed’ LCS, which should indicate how badly the LCS was designed for the task. If we want ships with modular space, the LCS is the least cost-effective option we could use–amphibs, EPFs, or ESBs are all vastly better options as MCM baseships.

            A serious start to counter-mine capability wouldn’t be 2 or 3 MCM-configured LCS, it would be an ARG with an extra short-deck; eventually that’d be one America-class LHA and three San Antonio-type LPD/LSDs, with enough extra space to carry at least one MCM package per ship.

          • Al L.

            Ah yes because what we want the Navy to do is sail a 2 billion dollar LPD loaded with the combat capability of 1/3 of a Marine battalion into the area chosen by the enemy to conduct MIW. Now thats smart strategy.

            Its also smart when a few possible mines need to be cleared or even just identified to disrupt the unified operations of an entire MEU to do so.

            Why dont we just take the enemies ability to disrupt operations with mines and hand them the leverage to exponentially multiply their abilities.

            Whether its LCS or some other platform, in order to have a strategically useful MIW capability it must first be on hulls which can be risked if needed to clear mines for the capital ships.

          • James B.

            Where do you think the enemy lays mines? Geographic choke points and landing beaches, and they will be protected. They are there to slow the force, so MCM needs to hit hard, heavy, and all at once or we might as well all go home. In a realistic field, an LCS would get killed or dally to long and get everyone else killed.

            If you want to breach a minefield off a landing beach, you need lots of MCM equipment–think ALL the modules, not just the 1-2 on LCSs in theater at the time. With luck, you will have hours to make useful paths in, but if you take too long, all the Marines get slaughtered. The simple solution is to put MCM modules on the big, relatively tough, amphibs that are already going to be there. An MCM ARG would need a fourth amphib, but that additional ship would give more modular storage space than every LCS honestly available for a given operation.

            Also, if it’s a landing, at go-time you either head in or cancel the entire thing, so expect to be pretty sure the minefield has been cleared, not 100% certain. If Murphy’s Law catches an LPD, it’ll be bad day but the ship will survive. If it’s an LCS that hits a missed mine, it’ll just be gone. I’m not volunteering to be on the LCS.

            For geographic choke points, things are probably similar, but without a beach to land on. If it’s important, MCM amphibs can be spared; if not, it’s not that important. Only in a completely pacified area with no time pressure is the low-capacity, thin-skinned LCS not a hazard to the whole operation, but in those situations many ships could carry the modules, and most of the far better and cheaper.

          • Al L.

            While an amphibious landing is possibly the most intense MIW scenario it is far from the only scenario. More common is mining of ship channels, harbor entrances and as you said choke points. It would be foolish to place MIW on amphibs to deal with those more common challenges. It would be nothing but a distraction to send an amphib to a ship channel because a few mines laid by a sub or freighter had been detected. And it would be an invite to the enemy to lay mines to force repositioning ships better used for other tasks.

            Have you studied the history of naval mining? Mines have at times been just set adrift in a current to float into a fleet or to discourage civilian shipping. Do you think it would be wise to dedicate amphibs to that challenge which may have nothing to do with Marines or landings or even warships? Mines can be a few barrels filled with foam, and explosives anchored with a rope and scrap piece of steel attached to a marine radio detonated by a guy on shore with binoculars; or a few CAPTOR like mines laid by a sub waiting for a ship on a regular route to a provision point. How many amphibs would be needed to cover that threat in a war theater?

            So if an enemy sub mines the harbor channel to a port of opportunity the Navy is using to provision fleet oilers it would be wise to send an LPD, 800 Marines, tanks, helos, AAVs, trucks, artillery, etc. along with 20 MIW crew, 1 MH-60 and a dozen pieces of MIW equipment off to deal with it?

            You haven’t thought this out very well.

          • James B.

            The intent was never to limit modular MCM packages to one platform, but of the several ships you could put an MCM package on, LCS are the worst option.

            In all the non-amphibious scenarios you propose, MCM modules based on an ESB, EFP, or even a civilian hull chartered into service would be a better option than an LCS.

          • Al L.

            Thats your opinion. Which I disagree with. I could list the many reasons why but dont have the time.

            I agree, in order to increase capacity when needed the use of MIW packages on EFP, ESB, ampibs, and any other suitable vessel should be implemented and exercised. A half dozen ESB loaded down with MIW equipment would be a huge asset for when persistent volume mine clearing was needed. However a responsive MIW warship able to operate with other warships with warship command, communications, ISR, etc. capabilities and the ability to at least defend itself and its offboard assets against disruption or capture is necessary. Without sufficient numbers of such a ship the Navy will sacrifice the ability to respond to offensive mining and so will hand the enemy the ability to control at least the pace and perhaps the location of the movements of its warships and the logistics fleet.

        • PolicyWonk

          The USN also tested the MCM module on an EPF, as was reported on this very site just within the past few months.

          In short, we all learned that an EPF that costs less than 1/4 of what an LCS does can do MCM (and after completing that assignment, the EPF was sent on a ~2-thousand mile voyage to successfully test out its cold water performance (something else LCS has yet to do).

          • Al L.

            A barge could have done what Carson City did per the July 5 article on this website:

            “Carson City joined in the multinational Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) exercise last month, deploying Remus-100 and Remus-600 unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) to conduct mine countermeasures work”

            So all it did was operate 2 UUVs. No helos, no UAVs, no USVs.

            So an EPF deploys about 1/10th of the LCS MIW package in 1 exercise and it “can do MCM”

            Great so I guess we can just cancel the LCS helos, UAVs, USVs, and DOTE testing of it all because non of them are needed so it ” can do MCM”

      • Lazarus

        LCS 1 and 2 were built with RDT&E $$$ and were entirely experimental. It is not surprising that both of those units have “issues.”

  • Duane

    In two separate posts over at Defense News this week, it was reported that two more Freedom variant LCS (the future USS Sioux City and Wichita) were delivered to the Navy this week, bringing the total to 15 delivered, with 12 in commission. Another report confirmed that four LCS will forward deploy in FY 2019, with sailing dates dependent on mission specific training workups for each ship. Two will go to Singapore and do SCS patrols, and two will go to Bahrain for Persian Gulf and Horn of Africa patrols.

    Also confirmed in one of the DN posts is that the ASW mission module will go IOC in 2019 and immediately forward deploy … and that the MCM mission module will go IOC the following year. Most of the MCM module equipment is already IOC today, including the remote mine hunting and mine neutralization systems that were just demo’d in RIMPAC 2018, with the final pieces to be demo’d being the CUSV towed mine neutralization system and the Knifefish submersible mine hunter, both of which successfully completed initial sea tests within the last year.

    The SuW MM is completed, with only the final integration of the 24-cell Hellfire launcher scheduled to be finished in October. The Navy is also working to develop a replacement for the Hellfires with about triple the engagement range, should be ready in about 2 to 3 years.

    • Graeme Rymill

      As recently as April this year LCS Mission Modules Program Manager Capt. Ted Zobel was giving an IOC for the MCM package as FY2021. Given the complexity and troubled history of this package I seriously doubt the prediction that the MCM package “should be ready to go in 2020” as Adm Brown predicts.

      • Duane

        That is nowhere else stated. The PEO just stated IOC in 2020, which has always been the target date for all 4 increments of MCM, based upon the planned retirements of minesweepers starting in 2021. The fact is today that two of the four increments are done, the other two are nearly done, likely to finish up in 2019, and 2020 will be spent doing final integration of all four increments of MCM on both variants of LCS.

        • Graeme Rymill

          “That is nowhere else stated” – you don’t have far to go to find support for Capt. Zobel’s FY2021 date. The August 2018 CRS report in the article above our comments says the same thing on page 6:
          “The Navy’s plan is to conduct MCM MP DT/OA in FY 2020 and achieve IOC in FY 2021.”

          You say “two of the four increments are done, the other two are nearly done, likely to finish up in 2019, and 2020 will be spent doing final integration of all four increments of MCM on both variants of LCS.”
          Not quite:
          The MCM Mission Package needs the the MCM USV as the new platform to tow the AQS-20 sonar for rapid minehunting operations. “The planned IOC date for the MCM MP is FY 2021 following maturation of the MCM USV mine hunting platform and operational testing of the MCM MP in FY 2020.” [From page 25 of Report to Congress for the Littoral Combat Ship Mission Modules Program: Annual Report With President’s Budget Fiscal Year 2019]

      • Lazarus

        If Congress would quit cutting the modular development budget we might get somewhere.

    • ElmCityAle

      The navy could have gone with the Rafael (Israeli) Spike missile family a decade ago, which would have given options for engagement out to 25 KM (Spike NLOS). US defense firm lobbies are strong, it seems.

      • Spike looks like a good choice. But you have to look at how we got here. Originally LCS was meant to have what was basically a more modern version of Spike, so it would have made little sense to go with a 30 year old less capable weapon. When the Army dropped the development of NLOS, the Navy wanted something with absolute minimum risk and Hellfire does that a lot better than something that is not currently in the US inventory.

  • alsotps

    No, I am not a Navy vet, “just” a historian. But I AM surprised at the tone and content of so many of the posts here. Very little support for claims, vitriol aimed at people who disagree…and childish name calling.

    More evidence and less emotion, please. That would help the rest of us actually learn something from the discussion.

    • Rocco

      As a new person here you don’t know enough to judge here!! Alot are idiot trolls that think they know what they’re talking about! But you are right about the learning curve!

      • vetww2

        We do not have a “learning curve”. We have the reciprical, a “Forgetting curve”. Else, why does every ship of a class cost more than its predecessor?

        • El_Sid

          Do you expect a pay rise or a pay cut each year?

          • vetww2

            ONLY IF I EARNED IT> You socialist types wipe out incentive by giving raises solely for staying alive, BUNK.

        • Rocco

          It’s called inflation!,, old man! Or are you? Beside a class that replaces another is not one & the same!! Why do cars go up! Gas? When it comes to ships the more built the cheaper they’d be!

          • vetww2

            Nice, reasonable explanations, but wrong. If their increases were, indeed, additions, I would agree, but it is not so. If you can get it read the report that RADM Manganero wrote (in the ’70s) when he recovered over 2 BILLION dollars in phony shipyard charges. It cost him his 3rd star. I am proud to say that I helped him on some of the technical points. (He was NAVSEA001, and I was an R&D type.

        • Lazarus

          If you were a designer you should know. Increasing electronic density of successive classes combined with long term, rising costs in electrical and electronic equipment.

  • Tom Dolan

    The problem most of us have with the Littoral program is that with contracting budgets the Navy put incredible effort and dollars in an overreaction to combating Iranian speedboats. If these ships have utility elsewhere in the world to counter a credible threat I don’t see it. The Coast Guard polices the littoral waters in the Western hemisphere while the Med is a largely European responsibility and Astral a European company isn’t building these for Italy, France and Spain so the need for these vessels is suspect.

    • tom dolan

      I suppose piracy suppression off Somalia might be one more place but conventional warships with a more general utility can and do perform this mission quite well.

  • Ed L

    When I first read about the street fighter concept I was onboard. The street fighter was to be a simple cost effective vessel that could handle itself in difficult situations like Our gunboats in China were. But then I saw the LCS design with all the new non traditional systems. complex systems the rotating crews which didn’t make sense. How’s a crew to take care of their ship if they have to keep turning it over to strangers. Might as well do a rent a ship. A crew puts their sweat and blood into caring for their ship. It’s their home, feeder and their country. And the lack of repair ships, when Repair ships were deployed they provided a degree of support that was truly welcome. When the USS Vulcan AR-5 made a Mediterranean deployment in the late 70’s she kept our Amphibious squadron going when we could have been sidelined in a foreign port relying on techs to be flown and foreign sponsor NATO yards to fix equipment. I was a bluejacket spent a 1/3 of my life in the Navy which included 14 years on Ships. I understand the relationship between a sailor and their ship.

  • tom dolan

    I’m curious. …has anyone taken one of these ship types into a hurricane or typhoon or even down to the Roaring Forties? I’ve only ever seen them out in the briny deep on good weather days and we all know how likely that is when a ship is needed on the other side of the planet. They don’t look like they’d be good poor weather ships but maybe I’m wrong.