Home » Budget Industry » Austal USA, Lockheed Martin Awarded FY 2018 Littoral Combat Ship Hulls


Austal USA, Lockheed Martin Awarded FY 2018 Littoral Combat Ship Hulls

Two Independence-class Littoral Combat Ships. US Navy Photo

Austal USA and Lockheed Martin were awarded contract modifications to build the Navy’s Fiscal Year 2018 batch of Littoral Combat Ships, the Pentagon announced on Tuesday.

“The three LCSs being awarded today are the future LCS-29, LCS-32 and LCS-34,” according to a Naval Sea Systems Command statement provided to USNI News on Tuesday.
“LCS 29 will be built at Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wis. LCS-32 and LCS-34 will be built at Austal USA in Mobile, Ala.”

Congress approved $1.8 billion for the two Austal-built Independence-class hulls and the one Lockheed Martin Freedom-class hull.

The Navy initially only asked for a single LCS in its FY 2018 budget request but settled on two after shifting funds from other sources including delaying the purchase of a nuclear reactor for an aircraft carrier overhaul.

Congress eventually bumped the LCS hull number to three as part of a $23.8 billion shipbuilding budget in the FY 2018 Omnibus spending bill.

The number of hulls the Navy awards per year has been a point of contention between the yards, Congress and the service.

The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) transits the Pacific Ocean after departing Naval Base San Diego July 9, to participate in the Rim of the Pacific 2016. US Navy Photo

Austal and Lockheed are optimized to build two ships per year but can bump that number down to one and a half without suffering a major loss in productivity, NAVSEA officials have said.

“It’s like building a house. You have guys who do the foundation, and you have guys that’ll hang the drywall. So if you don’t have ships coming in for the guys who do the foundation, then those guys have to go find other work. So it’s not only the timing and the number of the ships but it’s the sequencing of work that provides the efficiency,” Program Executive Officer Littoral Combat Ships Rear Adm. John Neagley told USNI News last year.
“The shipyards invested to do two ships a year on six-month centers, and so about one-and-a-half is an efficient build for me. Below that, we can certainly build ships, but I would expect to see impact to schedule and cost.”

Tuesday’s award puts the service on track for its stated goal of 32 hulls for the LCS program ahead of its transition to the next-generation frigate (FFG(X)) in FY 2020. However, the proposed mini-bus spending bill pending in Congress funds three more LCS hulls.

  • RunningBear

    LCS, will now have 16 LM hulls and 17 Austral hulls.

    – The Navy has been working on developing a new LCS anti-submarine warfare mission package since 2015, when an initial design was considered too heavy.
    – In May 2017, the Navy awarded Raytheon a $27.9 million contract to develop the sub-hunting capability.
    – In July 2018, the ASW mission package successfully completed a 10-day pier side test of the Dual-mode ARray Transmitter (DART) Mission System.
    – In the fall 2018, The follow-up Dockside-2 test is planned, when three new
    Raytheon-developed mission modules will be added to the DART system. This testing is now scheduled to occur at the Atlantic Undersea Test and
    Evaluation Center in early 2019, according to the NAVSEA statement.

    Hopefully, one of the ten ASW modules to be bought, will make it to a LCS hull in 2019.

    IMHO
    Fly Navy
    🙂

    • Curtis Conway

      I’m anxiously awaiting the AUTEC test results for the quietness of the LCS hull for both classes when running on those jet pumps. I’ll believe their parenthetical data over the assertions of the LCS protagonist any day. They know what they are doing down there, and are the best at it in the world with their unique acoustical environment.

      • Duane

        Jet pumps or water jets are quieter underwater than props, and underwater is where it counts, both for detection by enemy submarines and for purposes of masking the ship’s own sonar sensors. Jet pumps don’t cavitate at high rpm, while props do cavitate at high rpm. Cavitation is what makes most of the noise of a surface ship that is detectable at long range by submarine sonar. Cavitation is literally gazillions of implosions of vapor bubbles in water. Shrouded impellers are designed not to cavitate.

        That is why all modern submarine designs have gone to shrouded impeller propulsors.

        The “swooshing” noise heard through air is not the noise that gets transmitted through water to sonar.

        We’ve only known that fact for many decades now.

        • vetww2

          Mostly incorrect.The problem is that jet pumps and waterjets can be noisier than ducted (or shrouded) propellers and the water in the pump increases the ship’s displacement. I won’t get into a dispute over sub and super cavitating propellers or of “Prairie Masker”

          • Duane

            No – read my comment above. Cavitation is by leaps and bounds the biggest underwater noise generator, and carries much further in water than surface splashing, which, in case you haven’t noticed, the oceans are saturated with splashing noises which all waves generate. Water jets as used on LCS are fully shrouded and do not cavitate. All props cavitate at high RPM.

          • vetww2

            If you get over to DTNSRDC you will see the ONLY supercavitating propeller ever used by the NAVY (which I designed). I will not discuss hydrodynamics with you since, I can tell, you are not a fluid mechanics specialist. No insult intended, but the subject is quite sophisticated and complcated, with too any degrees of freedom for our discussian board.

      • Graeme Rymill

        2nd quarter 2019 – it should be fascinating!

        • Curtis Conway

          Yes, and we won’t see the ‘fascinating’ parts of the report, if anything turns out to be that way.

      • Lazarus

        waterjets are quiet; its their pumps that may/may not be loud. The trimaran hull of the LCS 2 variant may in fact be very quiet.

        • PolicyWonk

          One of my pals is an officer on a Virginia Block III, and he said they tracked an LCS from a “very, very long way off…”.

          It is fair to say that its doubtful the LCS crew even knew they were being tracked as a target (the favorite hobby of every bubblehead) and therefore weren’t making any effort to be quiet.

          But he did say the control room discussion that took place concluded it wouldn’t be much of an adversary. He did not indicate which LCS variant they tracked.

          • Lazarus

            Interesting that they were able to identify it as an LCS given that, according to RunningBear, LCS has not done an AUTEC run and therefore would not have a baseline noise pattern that could have been so specifically identified by any submarine. Maybe it was an EPF?

          • PolicyWonk

            Definitely not an EPF. Besides, the large majority of those are on assignments all over the world, delivering the value taxpayers deserve.

          • Lazarus

            You did not answer my question. No
            AUTEC run so no signature for anyone to pin to what they hear.

          • PolicyWonk

            So it doesn’t occur to you that an SSN that’s tracking a target is going to do a work-up on and/or take a look at whatever it happens to be tracking that isn’t in its catalog/database?

            This is a fundamental part of the mission of an SSN.

            I’ve known my pal for years, and have zero reason to doubt him. You, OTOH, have been busted more than once for taking liberties with the facts.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Fascinating. You mean an LCS was actually underway?

          • PolicyWonk

            Heh!

            Well, they do have to get from the shipyard to the naval base where they will shortly thereafter be unceremoniously welded to the pier. There wasn’t any mention of whether Tow Boat US was nearby, or if there was a tug acting as escort (like the Russians ;-), etc.

            Given there aren’t many of them, and they don’t spend much time at sea, I’m guessing it was a coincidence they both happened to be in the same relative part of the ocean at the time.

  • airider

    …and yet the yards continue to use the hollow argument that they need FY19 dollars to stay in competition for the FFG….what a bunch of bunk.

    • Duane

      They need to keep the lines hot pending award of the FFG(X) build contracts …. otherwise,as the Admiral explained above, they have to start laying off the work force involved in the early stages of construction of the next batch of ship contract awards..

      That in turn save a great deal of money in building the FFG(X). The reason the first hull or two of every new ship class costs anywhere from 30% to 50% more than the subsequent hulls is the fact of the inefficiencies of turning a cold production line into a hot production line. That is one of the principal built-in advantages of selecting either of the LCS-derived hulls for FFGX – the lines will already be hot, delivering the first ships much faster and at much lower cost to the taxpayer.

      No bunk to it.

      It’s called “process engineering” or “business”. Or “common sense”.

      Besides, the Navy needs the extra two LCS now. The current warship fleet is too small for the workload assigned to it.

      • airider

        Thanks Duane, I have personal experience with the LM yard. They haven’t purchased the long lead items for any of the ships ordered in FY16 yet, so they do not, in fact, need the FY18, or FY19 orders to keep their lines “hot”. They will be just fine through the FFG award timeline on FY17 orders alone.

        • vetww2

          Careful, real knowledge that you posess, tramples on some people’s utopian fantasies.

  • Curtis Conway

    The fact that “…Austal and Lockheed are optimized to build two ships per year…” is of no consequence. If you check the budget request again you will see the ‘combat system’ items were not authorized . . . so this in effect is a corporate welfare program, and even if we build them, we are building platforms the Navy cannot use, and does not need. They elevate ship count only, and provide platforms that have no combat relevance to any Battle Force Commander. The SWAMP driven by the Industrial Military Complex still drives budget planning and execution, even with this president in power.

    • NavySubNuke

      As much as I hate Trump this is purely pork by congress. At least the crooks in congress aren’t even pretending it is about the Navy and what it wants or needs — they are openly admitting it is just to bail out the shipyards.

      • Fred Gould

        Read yesterday where the Tea Party Caucus wants to divert all the USCG funds for new icebreakers to build the wall.

        • NavySubNuke

          Thank God there are not very many of them left.

        • PolicyWonk

          Given the USCG is tasked with defending this nation’s 12k+ miles of US coastline (among so many other tasks), this proposed diversion of funds represents an impressive level of ignorance.

          Besides, we’ve all heard that Mexico is paying for the wall – so they really don’t need the funding anyway.

          ;-D

        • Chesapeakeguy

          From what I have read, that is wrong. The Tea Party ‘caucus’ has reported that elements within the GOP have indicated a desire to take $750 million (hardly ALL USCG funds!) from CG budgets to build the wall. The Tea Party is QUESTIONING the wisdom of this…

          • Fred Gould

            Started with the Caucus, my rep is in favor. Was picked up by DHS and it is under consideration. The funds taken will put the ice breaker program back at least a year and the current ONE will not last much longer. Go to the site War Is Boring, more info.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            I went to the Tea Party’s own site. It’s quite informative..

      • Bubblehead

        Not going to turn this into a political forum, but the crooks in Congress/govt is exactly why Trump got elected.

      • PolicyWonk

        “…they are openly admitting it is just to bail out the shipyards…”
        =======================================
        Indeed, a rare moment of candor from the HoR’s. But given that the USCG got its budget shaved, I’d far rather see the money going into building 2 more Legend-class NSC’s that we could really use.

        • vetww2

          CORRECT!

          • Lazarus

            A 1980’s patrol frigate with no room for UAV’s is NOT what is needed in the present.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Laz. The Legend Class NSC deploys with 1x HH-65 and 2x Scan Eagles UASs. The flight deck and hangar are not as spacious as LCS – but there’s no reason why it couldn’t host an MQ-8C Fire Scout.

            The really appealing thing about the Legend is range and endurance. Sixty days and 12,000 nm, compared to a couple weeks and around 4,000 nm for the LCS.

          • LowObservable

            I remember a while back HII had some patrol frigate configuration of the NSC on exhibit, I’m surprised it didn’t gather some consideration from the USN.

      • vetww2

        What the heck did you bring PRESIDENT TRUMP into this? You have just lowered any opinion of you by injecting your prejudices, which I now have to put through a BIAS filter. SHAME.

      • vetww2

        Don’t forget,”Hate Chokes You.

        • NavySubNuke

          You’re the one who keeps coming back to this —– seems to be bothering you a lot more than me. Sorry I triggered you with this comment, better go run and check in with a safe space so you can let it go.

    • Duane

      The ships are fully authorized by the FY-2019 NDAA and the FY-2019 defense authorizations.

      No corporate welfare involved. This is saving the taxpayers a great deal of money while giving the Navy more highly capable warships faster, and that are needed now.

      • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

        More hulls? Yes. Highly capable? Not really, since funding for ASW and MCM mission modules was gutted by Congress – likely leading to further delays in IOC.

        • Lazarus

          Glad to see you acknowledge that Congress is a key culprit in depriving LCS of capability.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            You are externalizing. Congress is not the “key culprit”. The issue is past performance of the module program inspires very little confidence on Capitol Hill.

            It’s a pretty standard cycle. A program that does poorly out of the gate (and the modules certainly did that) takes budget hits it’s first year, which impacts the next year. And so on.

            The difference with LCS is that mission capability was always dependent on the modules. The ships don’t really provide much in the way of warfighting without them.

            The Navy is essentially getting half-complete warships with no main battery. They are perhaps useful for presence if/when they actually deploy, which is not at all this year.

          • Lazarus

            Warfighting capability costs big $$$ and that factor seems to limit Congressional interest in funding LCS module capability.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Actually, the mission modules are all rather cheap in comparison to what the seaframes cost. Hard to argue that cost is the reason.

            You forget that when LCS was being ‘imagineered’, the Navy’s module concepts were largely non-existent, low TRL concepts. All of which quite predictably failed to mature. Congress (or at least their staffers) likely haven’t forgotten this inauspicious start.

            Meanwhile, the current set of modules are much less capable than what was originally projected, and consistently fall behind in testing. So it’s pretty easy to see why Congress is reluctant to provide funding.

            LCS approach to modularity might have actually worked had the Navy ensured it’s first set of modules were built around low-risk, high TRL systems. But they didn’t.

          • Lazarus

            The current modules, specifically the ASUW and ASW are better than the originals. The MiW module is less helo based than desired but still capable and keeps people out of mine danger areas.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Define “better”. The original module concepts might have been truly awesome… had they not been complete fantasy. If you define better as actually achievable then I agree.

            My issue isn’t with the modules per se. The just make very little sense when paired with the LCS seaframes.

            ASUW – A few short-ranged Hellfires and a 30mm gun is hardly an eye-watering capability. A half-billion dollar corvette that is outsticked by enemy vessels that are much smaller and cheaper is not a great investment.

            ASW – The VDS/MFTA seems solid enough, although why do you need an ultra fast-shallow-draft vessel if operating your sensors require slow speed and deep water?

            MCM – has failed so many times that it’s hard to keep track of what we’re actually getting. However, the concept of half-billion dollar dedicated MCM vessel leaves very little to be desired.

          • PolicyWonk

            Not when the defense budget is soaring and the USN is desperate for ships and coverage… The Russians and Chinese are both sending more and better boats to sea, and we need sub-hunting assets.

            This is more an indication of the lack of faith the HoR’s have in the LCS program.

          • vetww2

            I believe it is more complex than that. When my guys, in 1978 developed “SEAMOD’, a true interchangeable and replaceanle ship modular concept, they layed out a specific set of design and procorement requirements, I cautioned NAVSEA that breach of any of these interlocking factors would lead to disaster, which they ignored and that’s how we got LCS. if someone wishes to pull up “Seamod”, I will be glad to comment on the missteps.

          • Lazarus

            It sounds like more of an acquisition system problem than one of technology or industry.

          • vetww2

            Both, think of it in the light of of semi-trailor trucks, except that the standard trailer has to be internal to the tractor.

          • Lazarus

            LCS can do a number of low end missions without a “mission module.” People seem to think that every US warship has to be an AEGIS behemoth.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Laz. That’s a strawman argument. I don’t believe anyone is saying LCS needs to be a AEGIS. I would say that it needs to be able to accomplish its actual ROC/POE mission areas.

            You know, a lot of us have actually followed this train wreck of a program for quite some time. We know or can easily find what was originally said/written. See below:

            “The warfighting potential of LCS can only be achieved through the synergy between tailored mission packages and a platform optimized to exploit them employing innovative concepts of operations.”
            – Ref: LCS CONOPS (ca 2004-5), VADM LaFleur, CNSF.

          • PolicyWonk

            And that explains nary a single deployment in 2018 how?

        • Duane

          Not true. ASW module to go IOC in just a couple months, and MCM is already about 85-90% complete, due IOC the end of FY2020 …. the hardware is essentially done now, and it is just a matter of integration of the four major MCM systems needed to go fully operational as MM.

          The Navy is going full bore to deploy MCM MM because everyone in the Navy knows that mines are the ideal asymmetric weapon for weak naval powers like Iran or North Korea. Mines are much cheaper and easier to deploy than warships

          Besides, MCM isn’t just for LCS, which is why the Navy is committed to buy twice as many MCM MMs than either ASW or SuW. It will be deployed on many different ships including amphibs, ESBs, and even DDG-51s.

          Oh, and by the way, all those additional MCM MMs that will deploy on other ship types are not an LCS cost.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Congress added a seaframe, but also cut MCM module funding significantly. And completely zeroed out ASW module funding.

            It would be very surprising if that doesn’t impact testing and IOC.

    • PolicyWonk

      It has been my position that the so-called “littoral combat ship” was nothing more than a corporate welfare program from the start. PEO LCS never had any intention whatsoever of living up to the spirit of the littoral “Street Fighter” concept developed/delivered by the ONR in 2001.

      LCS costs 10 times more than the estimated price of a Street fighter (~$92M), and the only feature still identifiable from that program is the blatantly deceitful “littoral combat”, designation that has virtually nothing in common with the end result.

      The only real virtue of these commercial-grade sea frames are the over-sized flight decks, which are compromised in usefulness by the unreliability/complexity of the propulsion systems.

      We’d be better off to purchase more EPF’s, at less than 1/4 the price. They’ve proven themselves incredibly successful, the crews love ’em, they are virtually as fast, and so adaptable the USN has been using them to test the MCM components, and a host of other weapons/systems.

      The LCS program has never been about delivering value or enhancing US national security – its always been about corporate welfare.

      • Ed L

        Littoral Costly Ships

        • vetww2

          Sub “Crummy” for costly.

      • Lazarus

        You say the Navy cannot properly estimate how much LCS should/should have cost, but you accept as gospel the estimated cost of the so-called “streetfighter;” a craft that really goes no further than powerpoint presentations.
        Expeditionary Fast Transports are useful units, but they are not warships and have even less “survivability” than does LCS. They do not support weapon system installation beyond light, crew-served small arms. The crews are MSC and they love any ships since they are paid many times what the average USN sailor makes per year.
        Not sure how one can oppose LCS and love EFF since they are two sides of the same coin.

        • PolicyWonk

          It isn’t necessarily that I’m accepting the cost of “Street Fighter” as “gospel”, but the point is that what the budgeted/estimated cost was supposed to be, provided a strong indication of what the relative ship size/expectation was. The $92M estimated price tag was blown out of the water by a pair of ship designs costing an order of magnitude higher, and none of these were designed for combat.

          An EPF could be pretty easily strengthened and militarized, given their simple construction. The amount space they have for growth (600t, as currently built) could be increased by cutting back a large portion of the superstructure, and optimizing the platform for carrying weapons, or hosting aircraft, and a host of other specialties very easily. Hence – they could be easily able to carry more and heavier weapons, sensors, and defensive armament than LCS currently does, at a much lower price.

          The USN already gets a fair amount of this, because they’ve already modified EPF’s to test a variety of weapons, in addition to the MCM package components, as has been documented on these pages.

          An EPF isn’t pretending to be something it isn’t, unlike LCS, and it is notable that a large portion of the complaint about LCS is that it comes a such a high cost, with such small ROI.

          • Lazarus

            EPF’s stability would not likely permit the addition of installed armaments. The 600 tons is for cargo in the designed cargo bay and not spread around the ship in the form of weapons and sensors. LCS was designed from the keel up to accept additional weapons, sensors and other equipment in different parts of the ship. EPF cannot do that.
            VADM Cebrowski designed “streetfighter” as essentially an airplane that happened to float on the water. it was an expendable asset that was too small to operate on its own and would need to be heavy lifted (as are the PC’s and MCM’s) for travel to remote locations. Then CNO ADM Vern Clark though a ship that could not self-deploy would not be an effective asset and as a result the low-end component of SC 21 became LCS (with flight deck and hangar space to spare.) Streetfighter would have just been the 21st century version of Jefferson’s gunboats.

          • PolicyWonk

            Catamarans are incredibly stable, and the design very straightforward to modify. LCS might’ve had requirements generated with the intent you claim, but the execution clearly failed. The USN belated got it, and cancelled the program – now its getting ships it doesn’t want.

            With the ASW and MCM modules both requiring redesign because of weight problems, there simply isn’t sufficient room for growth. The 100t you keep insisting is sufficient requires a balancing act in the weight management of the platform that has cost the USN years in delays, and higher costs, while these ships sit pier-side delivering little/no value/ROI. That same lack of room for growth prevents the addition of enhanced protections for the crew, which means no matter how good the weapons and mission packages are, LCS simply cannot be converted into a warship as a function of the sea-frame design.

            As has been mentioned previously, by myself and others, a large portion of the complaints made about LCS isn’t directly due to survivability. Its the staggering cost and size of a platform that is at best weakly armed when compared to anything peer navies build of similar (let alone half the) tonnage.

            An inexpensive ship that’s armed to the teeth with massive firepower, is one thing. A monstrously expensive one that cannot be armed to the teeth is another.

          • Lazarus

            $546m per ship is not a staggering cost for 2018. Good luck getting the US Defense acquisition system to cough up a cheaper ship with the same capabilities.

          • PolicyWonk

            Riiiiiiight. First of all, LCS without a mission package is all but useless. You should take note of how many dirt-simple “presence missions” were conducted by LCS this year (even with its current SUW mission package): none. And before that – the number is less than what you can count on one hand. To think so little has been done after we’ve invested so much 10 years after the first LCS commissioning. This represents a fundamental failure, and adds reason to why the USN cancelled the program, and called it “the program that broke naval acquisition”.

            After post-yard improvements and mission package, LCS comes out far beyond your claim of $545M (which is still a lousy value given the poor ROI): NSN has de-bunked that claim more times than I can count, yet you keep repeating it as if someday it’ll all come true…

          • Lazarus

            I’m talking LCS without a mission module. At $568m it’s a good deal for what is delivered.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Good deal for the shipyards to be sure.

            As for the Navy: the LCS still cannot do 2 of 3 required missions, and it deployed zero times in FY18.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            The modules are built specifically for the LCS. They are dependent on them to be able to perform any missions. Absent the modules they really can’t do much of anything except exist. And the module they need the most (IMHO), that of the mine warfare module, continues to come up short. That is fact.

          • PolicyWonk

            The USN didn’t agree with you: they cancelled the program, and deemed it “the program that broke naval acquisition…”.

            Not exactly a glowing recommendation…

          • vetww2

            I agree with you generally, but I wold like to make some corrections.
            1. The LCS is a TRIMARRAN, not a catamarran.
            2. When I rode the British tri, years ago, from Alexandria, I noticed a great sluggishness in the ship’s responding to the helm. I asked the engineer if he thought it was a specific design problem or a general trimarran fault. He had been on other tris and he thought that it was generic
            3, I do not believe this would be a drawback as a mine sweeper or layer. It would be for other missions.
            4.The semi-planing version has no redeaming features, except speed, which could be better achieved with a hydrofoil, or an SES.

          • PolicyWonk

            Sir,

            You are absolutely correct that the LCS (Independence class) is a trimaran. The topic was discussing the potential of using EPF’s (which are catamarans) in an LCS type role, for a lot less money (and EPF costs 1/4 that of an LCS, goes almost as fast, are vastly more reliable, and has 600t cargo carrying capacity). The discussion in that respect has been regarding the feasibility of chopping a large chunk of the superstructure off to add a helo hanger, more protection and structural reinforcement, firepower, and sensors.

            The directional stability of catamarans and trimarans (multi-hulls, in general) is what can compromises tight maneuvering, regardless whether powered by sail (I’ve spent a lot of time sailing/racing catamarans) or power. You are right that there could be missions that require maneuvering in very tight places (riverine, for example) that would not be appropriate for multihull ships. OTOH, for these applications, perhaps a Mark VI patrol boat would suffice, or if something larger is needed, a Cyclone-class PC.

            The semi-planing Freedom class has one redeeming feature, and thats the steel sea-frame (the superstructure/deckhouse, is aluminum). Its propulsion system, specifically in the gearing/transmission that switches between them, is a lot more complex.

            Love the idea of using hydrofoils, BTW…

      • Lazarus

        Street fighter was an experiment only and never a program of record, so the LCS program (it only got PEO status in 2011) has nothing to “live up to.”

        • PolicyWonk

          Well, now I see where you’;re coming from. When there are no expectations for what is supposed to be delivered, anything that is delivered can be considered successful.

          This is setting the bar far too low, IMO.

          When it comes to matters of national defense, and the USN, I expect FAR better.

          • vetww2

            You forget SEAMOD, which was partilly followed by the German “MEKO” class. Excellent ship and much less expensive.

        • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

          LCS was established as a program of record at Milestone A (2004). The fact that there wasn’t a PEO-LCS until seven years later is an indication of how badly this program was managed.

  • TheFightingIrish

    Yeah, I guess.

  • Adrian Ah

    For the Independence Class, I think they should install an extra x3 57mm guns- 1 at the module bay, 2 on either side of the rear hanger doors- there’s tons of space on the flight deck for them, and turn the LCS into a pure patrol ships and humanitarian supply ships. 4 guns should be able to lay down a lot of metal within a 8km radius and satisfy the “mass attacks by speedboats” fear. Bolt on x4 NSM just to scare away any enemy frigate/destroyers which appear on the horizon.

    Forget the modules.

    Just buy pure mine sweepers, ASW frigates from allied nations- they have very good designs for them.

    • Ed L

      Sounds like a good plan. And make sure the guns have an auxiliary power source

    • Lazarus

      Purpose-built minesweepers have been a black hole for the USN twice; the 1950’s era MSO’s and now the MCM’s and the departed MHC’s. Both sucked people and $$$ away from the fleet and were of limited, deployed utility; needing heavy lift ships or long, dangerous, escorted voyages where they got beat up to reach operational areas. Putting MCM in a modular basis on the LCS and other platforms is the best decision the Navy has made regarding MiW in a long time.

      • NavySubNuke

        I realize you prefer the two birds in the bush but lets try to get a working MCM module actually functional and deployed to the fleet before we declare it “the best decision the Navy has made regarding MiW in a long time”. The years of delay in the MCM module has already cost the Navy quite a bit just to keep the existing capability barely functional while we await the replacement.
        If the module ever does work it will be a big benefit – especially since it can be deployed on all types of ships rather than limited to only LCS.

        • Lazarus

          An MiW package involves a lot of incessant testing and experimentation. It does not just fall of the truck ready to go. The over-complex US OT&E system demands so many tests to satisfy so many customers that they take years to complete and more if one or more systems prove unworkable.
          Another surface sweeper/hunter would have just been another $$$ and people sink that slowly degraded over time, broke no new ground operationally and most importantly, would not have moved people out of the mine danger area and the business of hunting and sweeping.

          • PolicyWonk

            LCS hasn’t broken any ground, unless one hit a sandbar, mudflat, or other normal terra-firma hazard that was published and I somehow missed it.

            Neither class of these ships can break new ground (or water, for that matter) when they’re all tied to the pier delivering no value, with mission packages that still won’t be ready for years to come (10 years after the first commissioning).

            In short, the only thing the LCS program has broken so far, is a LOT of wind! ;-P

            Oh yes: add “naval acquisition” to what got broken, according to the USN.

          • NavySubNuke

            Yes but if the new package fails we will have to go back to the well and start from scratch and will have spent far more money then if we just went the traditional route in the first place so again I will say — lets see if it actually works before we declare it the best decision the Navy has made. It could just be a multi-billion dollar multi-decade failure that leaves us right where we started.

          • Al L.

            Lets hope not. For the U.S. traditional MIW ships are near dead. With global commitments, global trade transport, and an economic and social system which makes sailor dense systems increasingly untenable, the US can no longer cover its MIW challenges with slow unresponsive traditional MIW ships. Too many ships would have to be stationed in too many ports. The US needs a fleet of regionally responsive MIW ships, coupled with a mass MIW capability. 34 or 35 MIW cpable LCS coupled with a fleet of T-ESB would provide such a capacity. But we need the modules, and we need them to be managed better and we need Congress and the Navy to stop treating them like a step child and treat them like the necessary leap forward they are.

          • PolicyWonk

            The same purpose was demonstrated by an EPF, as was recently reported on these pages. Hence, the MCM package components can be installed on an EPF and perform the same tasks for 1/4th the cost of an LCS sea-frame.

          • Al L.

            Completely wrong. The EPF hosted nothing but UUVs. No helo, no UAV, no USV. The EPF lacks all the communications and control architecture to host those assets, lacks the ability to house and maintain a helo or UAV, cant handle more than 1 aircraft at a time, cant defend itself or maintain any local control over the air or sea space where it is doing MIW. Has less endurance and worse sea keeping than LCS. Lacks all the equipment needed to properly coordinate in a combat task force or even provide necessary targeting info to units defending it. Has no shock testing to any level nor any hardening whatsoever. Etc. If all of those things were added it would be an LCS, cost as much as an LCS, and be complained about as much as LCS. And still would have no modules because the Navy wont properly manage them, the DOD wont prioritize them and Congress wont properly fund them.

          • PolicyWonk

            Groan…

            EPF’s have a simple design that is easy to alter: they have a large helo deck, and the communications, etc., can all be added, and in fact there are already plans laid out by the USN to create such a command variant, in addition to a floating field hospital.

            An EPF thats modified/intended to go into harms way doesn’t need to have the space to add the kind of communications and gear required to command an invasion fleet, and to suggest that is rather preposterous.

            Claiming that it is impossible to create a vastly more useful platform than LCS using an EPF as the basis is absurd, because the USN has repeatedly extolled its endless virtues/possibilities on these very pages, more than once (note that no such article has never been published on these pages about LCS). For example, it wouldn’t be all that tough to chop off a chunk of the superstructure, and modify the platform to add a hanger for choppers/UAV’s, etc.

          • Al L.

            “EPF’s have a simple design that is easy to alter”

            At what cost? Install all the modifications needed to allow them to do what an LCS is designed to do and you have an LCS at LCS cost.

            “plans laid out by the USN to create such a command variant, in addition to a floating field hospital.”

            There are no plans laid out to create variants. There are plans to evaluate EPF for use in those roles for operations less than war ie regional engagement, HADR, training etc. There are no plans nor have there ever been to use EPF as a warship along side other warships to conduct warfighting tasks including forward MIW with the fleet.

            “doesn’t need to have the space to add the kind of communications and gear required to command an invasion fleet”

            Nice strawman there. I never said it did. In order to conduct MIW for the fleet in forward areas of undefined mine threat it would need the communications and other gear of a warship to properly coordianate with other warships. That is far different than being an MIW auxiliary which would be moved in to conduct limited scope MIW in rear areas, places where the mine threat is characterized or where mass mine removal is required.

            “the USN has repeatedly extolled its endless virtues/possibilities on these very pages, more than once ”

            No one who could command so has suggested that EPF could be turned into a warship. It has endless possibilities for support, HADR, ops less than war, auxiliary tasks, etc., but is not designed or intended or equipped to operate with forward forces protected or not.

            Austal builds both LCS and EPF. There is a reason a more complicated trihull was chosen for LCS and a cat for EPF. As has been reported EPF is very sea state limited. It is primarily designed, as are the ferries it was derived from, to transit from port to port in calm or protected seas. It handles even moderately poor seas by avoiding them. It is not built to operate the range of MIW assets needed under the conditions needed and cannot be made to do so without a complete redesign. It is useful as an MIW auxiliary and should be used as such.

            LCS is not ideal, but its much closer to what the Navy needs to provide a forward responsive MIW capability than EPF will ever be.

          • PolicyWonk

            Nice try – no cigar. The report on EPF variants was published on this site. Given staggering LCS costs, for sea-frames built to commercial standards, the taxpayer is getting, um, reamed.

            Relatively straightforward modifications to EPFs done to EPF’s by the USN on a regular basis, that are notably NOT happening to the hyper-versatile (or so its reputed) LCS fleets.

            Your statement that LCS is not ideal might be the understatement of the week: the USN agrees, which is why it cancelled the program. The current LCS variants are little more than hyper-expensive floating corporate welfare programs that even our allies said had far too tiny an ROI given the staggering cost. 10 years since the first commissioning – yet only a tiny handful of deployments, most of which let to severe problems in the propulsion systems.

            This year, they’re all delivering value welded to the piers in Mayport and San Diego, while EPF’s are travelling the worlds oceans delivering value to the taxpayers.

          • Al L.

            “The report on EPF variants was published on this site.”

            Nice Trojan horse there:

            You said : “in fact there are already plans laid out by the USN to create such a command variant, in addition to a floating field hospital.”
            and also “The report on EPF variants was published on this site.”

            This is complete fallacy. The EPF variants reported on are those proposed by Austal in a July 18 2018 article. Its an industry sales pitch and has nothing to do with “plans laid out by the USN”. The Navy has not only not planned or asked for variants of the EPF, it has asked that no more be budgeted or awarded. Congress , as with LCS, has not followed those USN requests .

            LCS is not “built to commercial standards”. The change from commercial standards to Naval standards is the largest reason LCS-1 &2 blew their cost estimates and schedules . Anyone who is knowledgable about these ships knows that.

            You can believe and assert anything you want if you choose to use made up “facts” to back it up.

            The rest of your last statement is opinion. LCS is not “cancelled” , and the Navy did not “cancel” it. LCS’s will be coming to the fleet for years and the Navy will be paying Austal and L-M for ships for years ahead. Modules are being designed and built. If reducing the planned buy of a program was evidence of uselessness then much of what the DOD bought in the last 2 decades was useless. Purchases wax and wane as strategic conditions change and it is in the nature of DOD procurement to ask for more and often get less.

            If we want to judge ship classes value by a single years deployment failures, we’d have a lot of ships to declare of no value, including 5 of the last 8 new warship classes.

            The EPF has substantial deficiencies, they are not sufficient to disrupt its MSC usefulness, however were it a warship it too would be welded to the pier until those things (like substantial sea state restrictions to avoid hull damage) were corrected.

            The EPF is a very useful auxiliary, however it will never be an adequate substitute for a warship in any mission as its design and hence its cost was built around compromises that assume the demands on a warship would not occur.

          • PolicyWonk

            Defense iIndustry Daily reported that despite PEO LCS’s reasoning that both sets of LCS sea-frames were being upgraded to the Level 1 standard on the slipways, the geniuses at the PEO finally admitted that no version of LCS, past, present, or future would EVER meet naval construction standards.

            In short, PEO LCS blatantly LIED. This was confirmed on Breaking Defense in a subsequent article.

            The LCS program was cancelled: they were supposed to purchase 52 sea-frames, and its acquisition was cut to 32 (though the HoR’s kept the corporate welfare dollars going for 3 more sea-frames the USN itself said it didn’t want). Instead, given the failure of the program the USN itself proclaimed “broke naval acquisition”. it decided what it really needed was frigates, which is why we now have an FFG(X) program.

            Cheers.

    • Ed L

      And replace the 57mm on the bow with a 76mm gun

      • Adrian Ah

        I agree with you. Problem is, the USN seems fixated on the 57mm gun. So I said 57mm.

        The Italian 76mm guns is fantastic, dedicated anti air strales software, numerous shells to choose from, Vulcano ammo has range of 40km Vs 8 for the 57mm.

        But… The usn just wants the 57mm or 5inch gun.

  • dog lover

    Congress doesn’t want to fund the electronic sensors that would make these aluminium tuna cans more survivable but yet there wasting money needed for our crews safety vs. buying more worthless scrap metal. This is what we have in D.C. nothing but crooked politicians.

    • Mr. Speaker

      It appears the swamp is viable.

      • NEC338x

        Littoral – that stinky, brown water region taking the various discharges of coastal swamps, sloughs, and salt marshes. Preferred environment of seaframes and teredo navalis.

    • Bubblehead

      Its basically a welfare program to keep shipyards in business. The ships are worthless. The USN doesn’t even want them while at the same time the USN is begging for more hulls. If that doesn’t tell you how worthless the ships are, I don’t know what does?

      I heard Congress is also zeroing out funds for its warfare modules…. Just when you thought the ship couldn’t get even more worthless they find a way.

  • Ed L

    Wasn’t there a USNI article about government shipyards being shorthanded when to comes workers. Maybe it’s time to develop a work force at the government shipyards capable of building Frigates, support Ships, AGI’s, Patrol Craft, Yard Craft, etc.

    • vetww2

      You mean go to war with Congress and the lobbyists.

  • vetww2

    With respect to RADM Neagley, he is parrotting what all the advocates of the SWIPE (Shipyard Welfare Incentive Program, Expensive.) have said before. What about the losers (besides the LCS)? What do they do. This is a nasty joke that cost my friend, RADM Manganero his promotion, and command of NAVSEA, while saving the TAXPAYERS over $2,000,000,000 (in 1978 dollars)

    • Lazarus

      Its RADM Neagley, not Healey.

      • vetww2

        Sorry. Bad typist. I will correct. Thanks.

  • Lazarus

    Duane and I are separate entities.

  • Chesapeakeguy

    So the “Too big to fail” pork mentality prevails. I remember those ‘hallowed’ days when ONE design and hence ONE set of assigned systems were to be selected. That was a lie and a joke from the get-go.

    • Duane

      There are very good technical and operational reasons for the two LCS variants. “One size fits all” is the real, self defeating lie.

      The Freedom variant is ideally suited for its designated ops area in the Atlantic/Persian Gulf. It has shorter range – not a problem in a part of the world where friendly ports are packed close together, and its semi-planing mono hull is a better sea keeper in the stormy North Atlantic/North Sea/Baltic Sea waters. The Indy variant, assigned to West Pac, has significantly longer legs than Freedom, a big deal in the WestPac theater … and its tri hull design is very well suited to its op area in the WestPac, SCS, and the Indo-Pac waters near Indonesia, Malaysia, etc.

      One size doesn’t fit all.

      • Chesapeakeguy

        All involved, even shills like you Duane, can spin this garbage all you want. The ORIGINAL proposal was for each platform to be evaluated by way of a competition. Then ONE design was to be selected. The usual Congressional suspects, as always, didn’t allow yet another opportunity to imbibe in the pork pipeline to go to waste. Thus we’re stuck with two completely different hulls and completely different equipment sets and training pipelines while the Navy plays catch-up in trying to overcome the severe limitations of BOTH designs, like those concerning their armament..

      • Chesapeakeguy

        Duane, you really ARE this obtuse, aren’t you now? Your revisionist history leanings now TRUMP (hee hee) everything else brewing in that mind of yours. The NAVY announced that the TWO designs were part of a COMPETITION to select ONE winner to build. THEIR words, not mine or anyone else’s. The Navy, to their chagrin since then, let the contractors determine all aspects of design and construction, hence the ADMITTED (by said Navy) of any real survival standards that are usually built into surface combatants and other classes. The Navy is now plying catch up as far as putting some real armaments on them. The LCS is a true bi-partisan boondoggle, in that both parties have put the emphasis on pork instead of military capability, thus the TWO designs that are allowed to continue being built. Geezz, per your (ahem) ‘logic’, what’s next? Will the Navy order design variants of Burkes for operating in different time zones?

    • NavySubNuke

      Yes, once the pork was on the table neither congressional delegation was going to allow the trough in their state to be shut down. And so the Navy doubled the “tail” cost by building two unique under-performing designs that require two completely different supply streams, two different schools, and 6 different mission modules.
      What a deal!

    • Lazarus

      The Navy specifically requested that both variants be continued. Not pork and not a lie.

  • NavySubNuke

    Not even close.
    1. They aren’t even real warships any more than PCs or minesweepers are. Including them in the battle fleet was just an exercise by Mabus to make the ship count higher – he also included the hospitals ships – not a reflection of them as actual warships.
    2. A Flight III Arliegh Burke costs about $1.8B — the same as 3 LCS but without including the “extra” cost items such as their mission modules or the after delivery modifications such as ASCM launchers. A Flight III Burke could eat all 3 of these LCS for breakfast and still be hungry before lunch. That 1 Burke provides immeasurably more bang for the buck than those 3 LCS.

    • PolicyWonk

      I appreciate the pun in the last sentence! 😀

    • vetww2

      Ask yourself this Question. Would I want my offspring on a Burke or an LCS?

      • NavySubNuke

        Well I wouldn’t my off spring on either of those targets 😉
        But if they have to be a swo then I would certainly want them on a Burke!

      • PolicyWonk

        Well, here’s a partial answer, but it supports your contention: my nephew’s best friend graduated from the USNA. After his introductory tours, one of which included time on a new LCS, he opted for a Burke Flight II.

        His opinion of the LCS was, um, less than positive.

  • Kypros

    Which is the one being built in Wisconsin now, LCS 27?

  • NavySubNuke

    “the littorals also happen to be where about 80 percent of all naval battles have been fought historically”
    What exactly is your definition of “littoral” – within 1000 miles of a landmass? Because that is about the only way this is true unless you are including all the battles fought as far back as the beginning of recorded human history!

  • muzzleloader

    Are you really still clinging on to your tin foil hat conspiracy that Trump stole the election with help from Russia?
    At this point, You have lost any credibility about anything you have to say about anything.

    • vetww2

      Great. I am with you. If these posts are allowed, I, a 91 year old WW2 vet will compaln to USNI. Please join me in that complaint.

  • vetww2

    The anti-President (no matter who) statements are IMPROPER for this discussion board and should be kicked out.

  • vetww2

    I am not a great Prez Trump supporter, But I am a great Constitution and President supporter. I will recomend that you go with the rest of the Swamprats.

  • vetww2

    Except for the CVs, DDGs, FFGs, 733s, 688s, ETC.

  • vetww2

    To save what is left of the concept, each LCS should be designated a specific mission (e.g. minesweeping, sub chasing, ice breaking, etc,) and optimized for it.

    • PolicyWonk

      This is in fact the current plan: the USN decided that quick change-out of mission modules was a waste of time and effort. Once an LCS gets its module, that’s the one its going to live with for a long time. That said, the USN also said it will probably swap ’em in/out depending on whatever the proper balance is deemed necessary/most useful at the time/over the years.

      However, LCS has never ventured into cold water for a mission, and the only one that was, was trying to get to sea before winter set in, but ended up being trapped for the winter.

      • Lazarus

        Any USN ship would have been detained by St Lawrence Seaway ice restrictions.

        • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

          A CVN or big-deck amphib? Doubt it.

    • Curtis Conway

      Mine Countermeasures, SOF support, and 4th Fleet support (mostly US Coast Guard augment in 4th Fleet AOR, and worldwide USCG LEDET support of Law Enforcement activity in accordance with International Bilateral Agreements).

  • Chesapeakeguy

    Duane, your inability as well as that of your fellow Democrats on venues like this to follow a conversation has become almost legendary. Getting your beloved Mexicans to pay for the wall or anything else is a relatively easy task. All that has to be done is ending the myriad of one way ‘deals’ that allows them to continue doing nothing but taking while contributing nothing. The REAL post was a reference concerning questionable ‘news’ about the Tea Party, another group you extreme leftist Democrats hate. DO try to keep up going forward.

    • muzzleloader

      The kicker about Duane is his insistence that he is not a liberal, lol.

      • PolicyWonk

        FWIW, a lot of conservatives have abandoned the GOP, and are now independents: the GOP is at its lowest registration point in decades, and the numbers are getting worse every day.

        And thats according to the GOP…

        • Chesapeakeguy

          Realistically, that applies to both parties. The ‘Walk Away’ movement is huge. That is the one that has people abandoning the leftist agenda in droves.

          • PolicyWonk

            Somewhat true – both parties are losing members as voters take to the middle ground as independents. The democrats are also losing members, but at no where near the same rate as the GOP.

            Cheers.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            I reckon it depends on the source cited. As you point out, most of THOSE voters are not leaving one party for the other, they’re going the indy route. I myself did that years ago.

          • PolicyWonk

            As did I…

      • Chesapeakeguy

        I know. He couldn’t crawl far enough up into his beloved Hillary’s panties.

        • E1 Kabong

          Oh, great.

          There’s a mental image I NEVER needed…..

    • vetww2

      Great. I will send it to every commenter who agrees with me that ANY comment perjorative of the Constitution or the President, whoever he is, is inappopriate for this venue.

  • muzzleloader

    You know Duane, I have come to the conclusion that Your hatred for Trump and your love for the LCS is what gets you out of bed in the morning. Am I right?

  • Adrian Ah

    Following on from my suggestion adding x3 57mm guns to the Independence class, several people have said the MCM package is very important. I agree.

    Problem is that it’s still not ready, and the MCM can be used by wide number of ships, not just the LCS. So the LCS can be used for the patrol missions.

    When the MCM is ready, it can be distributed to any ship with a crane, well deck, perhaps it can be dropped by helicopter (weight limit allowing). The MCM is really a separate project.

  • Ed L

    I will be convinced when squadrons are forward based to the PG, Elat, Djibouti and the Mediterranean. Say in Haifa, Rota and Sicily

    • Lazarus

      There isn’t really a mission for LCS in those areas. Singapore and Bahrain will be the primary deployed locations.

      • Ed L

        PG is Bahrain Having the LCS showing the flag in the MED wouldn’t hurt. They could run over bum boats or machine gun go fast smugglers

  • DaSaint

    Have LCS 31 and 33 been awarded?
    Am I missing something, or have they now authorized more than 34 LCS?

  • vetww2

    I am astounded that the editors allow these anti-President Trump comments. Either they inadvertantly slipped by or it reveals a USNI editorial bias, If this post is eliminated, I will go directly to USNI. SHAMEFUL.

  • vetww2

    Call the Coast Guard, and the Marines.

  • Ed L

    I have done mine clearing (Russian mines) it’s not fun. But one heck of a education in physics and hryodyamics. During the clearing of the gulf of suez canal the vessels involved would sail (dead slow) into areas that were supposed to be cleared with condition Zebra set and degaussing equipment running. Cause every once in a while they find one of those sea mines floating. HM-14 did a lot of flying towing sleds but there were a lot of EOD divers from 4 nation involved in diving operations Approximately 7,500 unexploded ordnance items were found within the canal proper.

  • Rob C.

    Given now we have new Budget crisis, they maybe A) stuck building these ships, B) do without. Now there looming possibly that the Frigate program looking like it could be cancelled. Love these budget priorities US has. No wonder why majority of the ship designs were using (seaframes for the technically people) are nearly 30+ years old with couple mods, people freak out it’s something completely new politically. Sad.

  • vetww2

    WOW, talk about killing your own weak argument.

  • Ed L

    If that’s the case then the LCS’s need some serious upgrades in the weapons department. Especially when dealing with counter battery fire from shore emplacements and Armor Fighting vehicles like main battle tanks, anti tank (3 guys in a Jeep). Some AAA systems out there have the ability to go surface to surface mode. And don’t forget about the silkworm missile those big warheads. Strap a couple of Bradley’s or an Arbams to the flight deck of an LCS

  • John B. Morgen

    The Navy is just throwing away money down inside a rat hole; the LCS type warships are not worth it. Both China and Russia are building more capable warships than what we are building. Supporting shipyards so they do not have to close their doors to workers is one thing, but the shipyards then should repay the taxpayers with capable warships. Or go out of business and let the Navy build their own warships.