Home » News & Analysis » USS Wichita Commissions Saturday, Will Bring LCS MCM Capability to East Coast


USS Wichita Commissions Saturday, Will Bring LCS MCM Capability to East Coast

The future littoral combat ship USS Wichita (LCS 13) conducts acceptance trials in July. Lockheed Martin photo.

A new Littoral Combat Ship will commission on Saturday and head up a new mine countermeasures-focused division at Naval Station Mayport, Fla. 

The Navy accepted delivery of Freedom-variant LCS Wichita (LCS-13) in August, coincidentally on the same day another Freedom-variant, Sioux City (LCS-11), was delivered. The two ships, the 14th and 15th LCSs delivered to the Navy, were built by Lockheed Martin and the Marinette Marine shipyard in Marinette, Wisc. Sioux City joined the fleet in November.

“This commissioning represents USS Wichita’s entry into the active fleet and is a testament to the increased capabilities made possible by a true partnership between the Department of the Navy and our industrial base,” Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer said in a statement. “This ship honors the citizens of Wichita, Kansas, for their longstanding support of the Navy and Marine Corps team, and I am confident USS Wichita and crew will make our Navy and nation stronger.”

Under the current LCS organization structure, most Freedom-variant LCSs are homeported in Mayport, and all Independence-variant LCSs made by Austal USA are homeported in San Diego. Each homeport is host to an LCS squadron (LCSRON) that oversees three four-ship divisions: one for surface warfare, one for mine countermeasures and one for anti-submarine warfare. On the East Coast, Sioux City was the final surface warfare-focused ship, and Wichita will be the first to join the new MCM division.

Though Wichita will begin work on its MCM mission, the Navy is still developing some of the tools the ship will use, such as surface and subsurface mine hunting systems that include a sweep system and an unmanned surface vehicle with mine-hunting sensors. The LCS mine countermeasures systems are expected to achieve initial operational capability during Fiscal Year 2021, according to written testimony the Navy submitted to the House Armed Services Committee last March.

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) is scheduled to deliver the commissioning ceremony’s principal address on Saturday. The ship’s sponsor is Kate Lehrer, author and wife of Wichita-native and PBS broadcaster Jim Lehrer.

  • Duane

    Welcome to the fleet, USS Wichita!

  • ElmCityAle

    USNI standard team email just went out: “Latest LCS article just published, grab your popcorn…”

    • Rocco

      Lol

  • Go Navy

    The Minehunting module referenced in the article is going to be declared operational in a couple of years. So how come the Navy is taking delivery of the ship this week? How will this ship perform the minehunting mission for the nation over the next 2 years? Is there any inherent mission specific capability that can help the ship perform this mission?

    • Duane

      The MCM mission package actually consists of four separate sub-packages each with various elements several of which are already operational. The final IOC of the entire MCM MM will entail integration of all four sub-packages. The original plan was to develop each sub-package to IOC individually, but about two years ago it was decided to complete and integrate all four sub-packages before declaring the entire MCM package at IOC by the end of FY-2020 or early 2021.

      For instance, the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) deployed by the MH-60 chopper is already operational and was demonstrated in last year’s RIMPAC 2018. Ditto with the Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS) and the Coastal Battlefield Reconnaisance and Analysis (COBRA) deployed by the MQ-8 drone. As I understand it, the Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle (CUSV) has been tested, but is not yet operational with the towed mine detector and neutralization gear. The Knifefish UUV is also tested but not yet operational.

      So the airborne equipment is operational while the water born (surface and subsurface) are not quite there. When the waterborne equipment is operational all four sub-modules will be integrated into a single MCM package.

      • DaSaint

        So what pieces of MCM equipment will be deployed on it between now and IOC?

        • Duane

          The airborne elements as described are operational today and would be deployed as needed on an ad hoc basis. Not only on LCS but also on other platforms that the Navy has been testing out, such as the expeditionary sea base ships. Field testing also continues on the waterborne elements of the MCM.

          The overall program “need” for the LCS-based MCM mission package is defined as the planned retirements of the existing minesweepers slated to begin in 2021. So the plan has been to have the entire MCM mission package go IOC just prior to the first retirement of the minesweepers.

          • Curtis Conway

            The MCM mission package is modular for a reason. The LCS just happens to be a convenient platform for the shallow littorals.

          • Duane

            LCS is much more than convenient for ops in the littorals. It is the world’s most lethal littoral warship, with the fastest speeds and heaviest armament and best combat information management system and most capable aircraft deployed.

      • Graeme Rymill

        Cobra Block I which detects mines in the beach zone is operational but Cobra Block II which detects mines in the surf zone isn’t and won’t be operational till FY2027. The Barracuda which provides the only near surface mine neutralization capability for the LCS is also not expected to be operational till 2024. So significant capability gaps are there and will be for some years.

        On a perhaps minor note developmental and operational testing of AMNS and of ALMDS has taken place on Independence class LCS so some extra work will be required to ensure integration on the Freedom class ships including USS Wichita.

        • Curtis Conway

          Thank goodness the LCS flight deck can handle an MH-53.

          • Duane

            What does that have to do with anything, aside from snarky sarcasm

            LCS is designed to operate with its assigned aircraft, MH-60s and MQ-8s.

          • Curtis Conway

            Look up the MH-53E Sea Dragon. It is successful at destroying mines TODAY, not in the future. It’s a different world out there for those who actually do the mission, instead of those who pretend they know what’s going on.

          • Duane

            And the Navy is getting out of using MH-53s for that mission. The MCM mission module is the future of navy MCM – and not just on LCS. It’s a much better system.

          • Curtis Conway

            I SAY AGAIN the MCM module is not certified as mission capable yet, and one should always ‘plan for the worse and hopes for the best’. The MH-53E Sea Dragon’s stand ready to deploy if required.

          • Curtis Conway

            You know Duane, “…getting out of…”, and using them ‘today’ is two different things. LIVE in the Real World man. This kind of thinking is what gets our sailors killed.

          • Curtis Conway

            The MH-53 Sea Dragon drags the sled that currently works against mines. The MH-60 can’t even pick it up, forget about having an MQ-8 give it a try. That portion of the MCM mission module system for LCS hasn’t been certified . . . yet.

          • Duane

            The Navy doesn’t plan to keep using MH-53s when it has everything it needs and will need in the MCM mission package that avoids slow and dangerous “minesweeping” in favor of fast and remote controlled unmanned systems to do the same work better.

            Welcome to the 21st century. The 20th century ended nearly two decades ago.

          • Curtis Conway

            If the Navy needs Mine Countermeasures TOMORROW, it will be a MH-53E Sea Dragon dragging a sled. The debate goes on in congress about whether there will be an MH-53K King Sea Dragon, though I don’t think that is likely to happen, unless the MCM modules cannot meet the test objectives. No guarantee for that!

          • Duane

            LCS is not programmed to provide MCM tomorrow … it is programmed to provide MCM services in FY2021.

            But since about half of the MCM package is already operable today, there is value in having the first MCM ships begin to work with that equpment now, and then continue to work with the rest of the package equipment as it readies for IOC.

        • Duane

          These planned later capabilities are capabilities that exist nowhere else on our existing minesweeps or any other on the planet. So the LCS is not missing any currently deployed MCM capability as you imply.

          Being a modular ship from the keel up, the LCS is designed for continual updates and upgrades as technology develops and new capabilities are needed in the fleet. Unlike all other naval warships that are literally stuck with what they were originally designed with, in most instances way back in the 1970s and 1980s, and cannot be equipped with new stuff at all, or at least not without an expensive shipyard overhaul taking years and costing hundreds of millions.

          • Graeme Rymill

            Contact mines moored in shallow waters cannot be neutralised by LCS mine neutralisation systems until the Barracuda becomes operational. Legacy platforms such as the Avenger class ships and the MH-53E Sea Dragon have mechanical sweeping equipment. The LCS doesn’t.

          • Duane

            CUSV can tow mech sweeps too. But unlike a minesweeper, puts no human crew at risk

          • Graeme Rymill

            Influence sweeping only – magnetic and acoustic – not mechanical sweeping.

          • Duane

            It still sweeps. You are nitpicking, making distinctions without a practical difference.

          • Graeme Rymill

            There is a distinct practical difference between influence sweeping where you generate an acoustic or magnetic signal to detonate an influence mine and mechanical sweeping of moored mines by cutting the mooring line. If the moored mine is an old style contact mine influence sweeping will have zero effect on it.

          • Duane

            That is why the Navy has additional remote means for neutralizing mines without old fashioned “sweeping” … which is very slow work, and is very dangerous to the sweeper. The new AMNS and Knifefish, to be exact, among other new equipment.

          • Graeme Rymill

            AMNS cannot neutralize shallow water mines (defined as in 30 feet of water or less) because the resulting explosion might endanger the helicopter carrying AMNS.

            Knifefish is intended to use sonar to locate and identify buried mined and mines hidden in bottom clutter. It has no capability to neutralize near surface mines.

          • Duane

            It is a combination of systems designed to handle all known scenarios in MCM. It’s about half operational now, the rest over the next two years.

          • Graeme Rymill

            You have no idea how the MCM LCS could neutralise a shallow water moored contact mine – you just know in your heart of heart that they can. Unfortunately many of us need more than just blind optimism to be convinced.

          • Graeme Rymill

            Not moored contact mines in under 30 feet of water – LCS has no current way of dealing with these remotely – not AMNS and not Knifefish (Knifefish is used for locating and identifying bottom mines – it doesn’t neutralize mines not even bottom mines – it just finds them)

          • Duane

            Mechanical sweeping of mines is slow and dangerous work … that’s why the Navy is getting out of that business.

          • Graeme Rymill

            I will restate my argument one more time – because old fashioned contact mines moored in shallow water cannot be neutralised by the magnetic and acoustic sweeps the MCM LCS’s CUSV will use and because the CUSV has no mechnaical sweep the LCS is unable to sweep these sorts of mines. Barracuda will overcome this problem but it is still another six years from being operational.

  • Ed L

    deploy it out of New Jersey, Major shipping ports close by.

    • Michael Lopez

      Or possibly Groton, CT.

      • Curtis Conway

        Now Groton can have ice.

    • Ser Arthur Dayne

      Deploy the USS New Jersey, major guns close by! (pardon me while I duck the rotten tomatoes sure to be flung at me)

      • Curtis Conway

        You could squash a lot into a 16″ package, maybe a Smoothbore?

    • Duane

      That ship has sailed, pardon the pun. Mayport is the designated home port for the Atlantic fleet LCS. But it is also expected that at least one squadron of LCS will be forward deployed long term to our base in Bahrain to cover middle eastern ops. Quite possibly a northern Atlantic forward base may be established – the Baltic or North Sea would be a logical op area for LCS.

      • Ed L

        I forgot that seaports in that part of the country so,etimes ice up. Water jets

        • Curtis Conway

          Mayport has been our thin hulled Frigate Base for decades because it usually doesn’t freeze up. However, I am hoping the FFG(X) will break that mold, and be able to break some ICE with the bow. The FFG(X) should not have a hull mounted sonar.

          • Michael Hoskins, Privileged

            That plus an incredibly short sea detail. Quick response and all that.

        • Duane

          Baltic and North Sea ports remain uniced up .. the Gulf Stream warms northwestern European waters.

          • sid

            An example from a typical year of ice conditions in the southern Baltic

            THE ICE SEASON IN THE SOUTHERN BALTIC SEA, DANISH STRAITS AND KATTEGAT
            Ice conditions in the Polish coastal waters in the southern Baltic Sea
            Also along the coast of Poland, maximum ice formation was reached in mid-February, when fast ice of 15-30 cm thickness covered Szczecin Lagoon and Puck Bay, and up to 15 cm thick ice in variable concentrations occurred in the harbours along the coast between Świnoujście and Gdańsk. Very close 5-15 cm thick drift ice and new ice were observed in the Pomeranian Bight, and new ice formed also in the Bay of Gdansk. Vistula Lagoon was covered with 30-50 cm thick ice. On 19th and 20th of February, ice drifting eastward from the Pomeranian Bight due to strong westerly winds was observed in the offshore waters off Kołobrzeg, and on 23rd of February off Ustka. The ice in Szczecin Lagoon disappeared by 26th of February, and in Vistula Lagoon by mid-March.

            Ice conditions and navigation on the German Baltic Sea coast
            The ice season of 2011-2012 was the third consecutive ice season characterised by major ice formation in the German coastal waters. Although ice occurred only for a short period of time (about 3 weeks), the intensity of ice production justified a classification of the winter of 2011-2012 as a moderate ice winter.

            On the German Baltic Sea coast, the ice winter of 2009-2010 was classified as severe, and both the winters of 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 were classified as moderate ice winters. During the past ice winter, a considerable quantity of ice formed within just two weeks also in this region. The ice season of 2011-2012 was short but intensive.

            Due to the prevailing meteorological conditions, there was only one freezing period on the German Baltic Sea coast, which lasted up to 30 days in the inner coastal waters. Thicknesses of level ice in the sheltered coastal waters reached their maximum of 10-30 cm in mid-February. In the waters of Greifswalder Bodden, fast ice formed only in the bays and on the northern coast, whereas ice in the central part kept moving. This led to ice rafting and ridging. Shipping faced major difficulties also in the navigation channels (Osttief, Landtiefrinne). The northern approaches to Stralsund and the western bodden waters were closed to shipping for three weeks.

            Ice conditions in the German Bight, Kattegat, Skagerrak, and in the Danish and Swedish waters of the western Baltic Sea
            In some sheltered areas of Limfjord, ice thickness grew to 40 cm in the course of February and in the end of February the waters were free of ice again. In the Skagerrak, ice of 5-15 cm thickness occurred in some smaller fjords on the Norwegian coast from mid-January to mid-March. In February, ice of 5 -10 cm thickness occurred locally in the harbours of Oslo, and new ice developed in the Oslo navigation channel.

            In February, smaller harbours and fjords along the Danish and Swedish coasts of the Kattegat were completely covered with ice, with maximum ice thicknesses of 5-20 cm. Large areas in the offshore waters and in the Belts and Sounds were covered with thin ice or new ice in the time between 8th and 15th of February.

            In the course of February, fast ice or level ice developed in the bays and sheltered waters of the Danish and Swedish coasts in the western Baltic Sea. Around the time of maximum ice development, in mid-February, ice thicknesses reached up to 15 cm. Offshore waters remained ice-free.

          • sid

            “Baltic and North Sea ports remain uniced up …”

            This is a patently false statement. Today’s northern Baltic ice conditions. In a couple weeks we will be able to talk about ice in the Kattegat and along the southern coast…

            GULF OF FINLAND
            IN THE HARBOURS OF THE PORT SAINT PETERSBURG AND UP TO LONGITUDE OF LIGHTHOUSE TOLBUHIN THERE IS VERY CLOSE DRIFT ICE, 15-30 CM THICK. WESTWARD UP TO THE LONGITUDE LIGHTHOUSE SHEPELEVSKIJ THERE IS VERY CLOSE DRIFT ICE, 10-25 CM THICK AND NEW ICE. WESTWARD UP IS ICE-FREE.

            NARVA BAY IS ICE FREE. KUNDA BAY IS ICE FREE. MUUGA BAY IS ICE FREE. TALLINN BAY IS ICE FREE.

            IN PARNU BAY THERE IS NARROW FAST ICE BELT AND RIDGED ICE NEAR THE COASTLINE, FURTHER ON FAIRWAY UP TO LIU-HAADEMEESTE LINE THERE ARE CLOSE AND VERY CLOSE DRIFT ICE, FURTHER ON UP TO MANILAID-IKLA LINE THERE ARE OPEN AND VERY OPEN DRIFT ICE. FURTHER ON THE FAIRWAY UP TO IRBE STRAIT IS ICE FREE. IRBE STRAIT IS ICE FREE.

            IN VAINAMERI THERE IS FAST ICE WITH CRACKS AND POLYNYIA
            IN SHALLOW BAYS 8-12 CM THICK, NEAR THE COAST THERE ARE RIDGED ICE AND VERY CLOSE DRIFT ICE, FURTHER ON THERE IS CLOSE DRIFT ICE,
            IN CENTRAL AREA THERE IS VERY OPEN DRIFT ICE.

            ICEBREAKERS: EVA-316 ASSIST TO PORT OF PARNU.

          • Duane

            I didn’t say “northern Baltic” you did… we have no operational bases in the norther Baltic. Denmark and southern Norway and southern Sweden ports don’t ice up. Again, it’s the Gulf Stream that keeps that area ice free.

      • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

        “That ship has sailed, pardon the pun.”

        Somewhat Ironic since no LCS sailed (deployed) in 2018. The Navy even put together a Littoral Combat Group without a Littoral Combat Ship!

        • Duane

          You never tire of repeating irrlevant factoids.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            LCS was intended to substantially increase the Navy’s forward presence. It didn’t deploy once this entire year – even when the Navy formed a Littoral Combat Group. Seems relevant.

          • Curtis Conway

            With its disparate configurations between the two platforms, the LCS Program will be an $$ albatross around the Navy’s neck through training, logistical support, maintenance, and operational support. Of all Surface Combatant platforms in the fleet today the LCS will consume more budget and return less than any other type vessel. THIS is what is called Leadership today!

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            My biggest concern with LCS is the wasted intellectual capital and lost time – more so than the money.

            Rooms full of officers, engineers and analysts are spending a sizeable portion of their careers trying to make someone useful out of LCS.

            Meanwhile China is pumping out dozens of FACs and DDGs.

          • Curtis Conway

            Those who know what they were doing, and had valuable and storied experience in same, have been superseded by those politically minded. We are lost to their will, and our sailors will die by their (those political minded) vanity.

          • Duane

            What about the prior three deployments? Don’t those count? Or the hundreds of deployments yet to come.

            C’mon smart boy … get your crystal ball out and declare that the LCS will never deploy again.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            LCS program was established November 4, 2004. Three deployments in fourteen years. Not very impressive.

            As for the hundreds of deployments yet to come – hard to take credit for something that hasn’t occurred yet.

          • Duane

            First ship ordered on 2004, commissioned in 2008, and first deployment in 2013, just 5 years later. Considering that the Navy at that point hadn’t even decided what equipment to deploy on LCS until about 2016 (OTH missiles) because, uhmmm, the threat matrix completely changed over that timeframe, that’s doing pretty darned good. Also considering that LCS relies heavily on cutting edge state of the art unmanned systems technology that essentially did not exist at all when the program was begun in 2004, that’s especially impressive.

            On the other hand, with FFGX, that program was authorized in 2016, conceptual design by 2020 (in that same timeframe the first two LCS were designed, built and delivered), and first ship by 2025 – 9 years just to get the first ship commissioned. That first ship likely won’t deploy for at least another 3 years after that – so no deployments at all for FFGX for the first 12 years after program initiation – likely not deploying any time before 2028.

            And FFGX has the benefit of a jump start – being mostly designed already on a proven “parent ship” design, rather than a clean sheet design which typically adds another 4-5 years to be construction ready. Oh, and also relying mostly on technology and systems developed on – guess what?!!! – the LCS program, including most of its weapons, its ASW system, and its aviation capabilities including unmanned systems. Other than the 8-16 cell Mk 41 VLS, everything else on FFGX was developed on the back of the LCS program.

            LCS looks pretty darned lighting fast and effective considering current standards of new ship development.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            The first proposed LCS modules were massive failures. PowerPoint systems. No one talks about them because they failed to be transition.

            LCS deployed with practically zero mission capability because none of the modules were anywhere remotely ready. All it did was low-end, show the flag stuff.

            If you want an example of a successful program – look at P-8A. Program was established in 2004. About the same time as LCS. Yet it’s deployed numerous time doing its actual missions.

          • Duane

            LCS commissioned in 2008 and deployed in 2013. P-8 didnt go IOC til 2013, years after LCS went IOC.

            P8 was a far simpler machine than any warship, and was simply a new adaptation of a 45 year old airframe. LCS was a radically innovative clean sheet design.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            P-8 squadron VP-16 deployed in December 2013 to WESTPAC.

            I think you are confusing LCS’s unnecessary (over)complexity with “innovation”. Not the same thing.

            I’d prefer to have a ship or airplane that can reliabily complete it’s assigned missions (i.e. P-8) – vice one that is innovative but completely unreliable (i.e. LCS).

          • Duane

            You apparently prefer 1960s designs then.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            I prefer systems that work and provide actual, useful capability.

            PS – 737-800 isn’t a 1960s design. Nor are the P-8 mission systems (sensors, C3, weapons) which are what really matter.

          • Duane

            No massive failures on mission packages whatsoever .. you’re hallucinating again.

            SuW has been a marvelous success. Upgraded over time, as any modular ship is expected to do. No failures – works great.

            ASW is effectively done. The first iteration was too heavy, so the Navy went back and made adjustments, the finished product (delivered last fall) is the finest surface warship ASW package in the fleet. MCM has been delivering in subpackages for years now. Only one “failure” – RMMS – quickly replaced by CUSV which is working great. Still on track for completion by the end of FY2020 as always planned. Is and will be the world’s finest safest MCM capability of any navy.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Hmm. Heard of NLOS? What about all the UUVs for ASW?

          • Duane

            So what will be your line this year when not one but four LCS deploy, as Adm Brown says will happen? Same ships.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            We’ve heard plans on LCS deployments before.

            Give how screwed up the LCS manning and pre-deployment preps seem to be, we will likely see one of two outcomes:

            1. SURFOR will reduce the number of LCS deployments in 2019 to one or two.

            2. Four LCSs will deploy as planned. And due to shortages in crews and training, we will see a pretty bad mishap. A collision or grounding.

            I am not wishing for #2, but Megan’s article is very concerning. Reads like the intro to a mishap report.

        • Duane

          All the LCS not in maintenance availabilities (shipyards) sail virtually every week, completely contrary to your lying propaganda.

          Nothing in the least ironic .. how much sailing did you ever do? I’ve asked you this multiple times, and it always results in you flagging my comment … hence it seems rather obvious that you never sailed a day on a naval warship in your life, yet you pretend to be the great expert on all things LCS, which I am certain you have never laid eyes on, or walked the decks, or of any other US naval warship.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            I’ve never flagged you, and don’t recall you asking how much sailing I did. I think you are confusing me with someone else.

            But since you’ve now asked, I’ve spent very little time underway. Two CVNs and a DDG. I was a land-based P-3C flyer.

            One doesn’t need to be Chester Nimtz to understand that three deployments in the fourteen years that LCS has been a program is pretty underwhelming.

          • Duane

            On FFGX, at earliest there will be a single deployment of that new vessel in the first 12 years after program authorization in 2016, per current program schedules if they are met. That is a ship program that is based upon a proven parent ship design, and whose technology is almost entirely lifted from the LCS program which developed it all

            LCS did its first deployment just 9 years after program authorization in 2004.

            And that is in a ship program that started out wth a totally clean sheet design, no “parent design”, using more cutting edge unmanned systems technology than any other ship in any nation’s fleet, nearly all of which did not exist when the LCS program was authorized in 2004.

            Anyone ought to be able to tell which program has its sh*t together, and which one is a laggard, by comparison.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            I wasn’t defending FFG(X). Should I step aside while you argue with yourself?

            Three deployments. Fourteen years.

          • Duane

            Not arguing with myself at all.

            It takes at least a decade plus for even marginally new ship designs (like FFGX) to go from program authorization to first deployment. Radically new designs like LCS should take years more. Yet the LCS that you spend all your keystrokes whining about did it in only 9 years

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            LCS had essentially zero mission capability when it deployed in 2013. Even CNO said it was rushed.

            Even when (if) it deploys next year it will only have a watered down SUW package. No MCM nor ASW.

            I would argue the only thing “radical” about LCS is that it demonstrated in a spectacular fashion how not to conceive of, design, and field a warship.

            The LCS itself is worthless. But the abject lessons will be priceless. Professionals will be studying this failure for generations.

          • Duane

            What is worthless are LCS trolls. LCS is tremendously useful in SuW, ASW, and MCM.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            That’s a neat trick, considering that neither the ASW or MCM modules have IOC’d yet.

  • Ser Arthur Dayne

    Well, that’s a relief.

    • Curtis Conway

      yeah boy . . . go get’em.

  • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

    So the grand total for LCS is 8 MCM vessels. Four on each coast. Eventually. By 2027 or so.

    (Shakes head…)

    • Duane

      8 out of 35 is not significant?

      SMH

      • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

        You are looking at the math wrong. The proportion of total LCS force is irrelevant. What matters is the total capability/number delivered relative to the requirement.

        You’ll recall that the LCS was originally intended to replace the 14 Avenger MCMs and 12 Osprey MHCs then in-service. The LCS was sold as a swappable ship, therefore Navy would procure and preposition 24 MCM modules. Enough to allow any LCS-SUW or LCS-ASW to reconfigure to MCM if/when required. That’s would’ve given the Navy a very deep bench of MCM vessels – pretty close to the legacy force it replaced.

        However, the module and crew swapping CONOPS proved completely unworkable and was abandoned by Navy leadership. Each LCS is stuck in one configuration: either SUW, ASW or MCM with no ability to reconfigure.

        The LCS program itself has been a complete dog’s breakfast in othero areas – with the result that we’re only buying a total of 30-odd hulls. And for some odd reason we’re splitting them equally between SUW, ASW and MCM configurations – and dividing these equally between the East and West coasts.

        The end result after a decade plus will be to replace 26 proven, inexpensive Avengers and Ospreys with 8 unproven and much more expensive LCS-MCMs. Eventually. If the LCS-MCM technology ever works.

        “Spend more and get less” seems to be an apt motto for PEO-LCS.

        • Duane

          Switching MMs on LCS is the opposite of “unworkable”. It can still be accomplished easily within a 48 hour window dockside, no shipyard or drydocking needed. The Navy decided a couple years ago to not routinely swap MMs because the crew, of which about 1/3 of the entire ship’s complement is attached to the MM, would suffer reduced readiness due to instability in crewing. So, a given LCS will feature a given MM and its MM crew for extended periods, such as for an entire 1-2 year deployment .. and not switch out after every single patrol as originally envisioned.

          So, in a given scenario, a LCS may be engaged in SuW or ASW for a year or two, then if MCM becomes a critical need because the enemy has in fact mined critical seaways, the switch can be made inside 48 hours. That’s tremendous operational flexibility that no other warship on the planet enjoys.

          Again, the Navy is not limiting deployment of the MCM modules to just the LCS. In uncontested waters, MCM can be performed just as easily by an auxiliary like the Expeditionary Sea Base, or even just a big barge with the ability to deploy the necessary aircraft and watercraft.

          About half of all mission packages planned for purchase are designated as MCM, a number significantly exceeding the number of LCS. Given that changing out MMs frequently is no longer the plan, the Navy can just use the “excess” MCM MMs on other surface craft.

          The Navy has even discussed ad hoc deployments of MCM on Arleigh Burke DDGs, as well as amphibs.

        • Lazarus

          The Avengers have really proven much other than that the Navy has ignored them over the years and allowed them to slowly degenerate in capability over the years due to ill funding. Other than RMS, LCS MiW capabilities are relatively mature. Congress funded ships but cut mission package funding and testing over the last 10 years; slowing overall LCS capability development. Module and crew swapping have suffered more from inflexible 1980’s-era SWO culture that refuses to change rather than technical failing.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Laz. For god’s sake. Read the FY17 LCS DOT&E report. Specifically the section on MCM MP. The issues called out do not read what one would expect from relatively mature systems.

            (You will of course dismiss DOT&E because it doesn’t support your narrative – while offering no alternative data source).

            My understanding is that mission package funding was cut largely because they failed to meet test requirements. It is also worth noting that the intial proposed mission module concepts were PowerPoint fantasy and failed out the gate. That probably didn’t help.

            The fact that module swapping is technically possible is irrelevant. SURFOR said they won’t use it that way. Dividing up the crews was seen as a non-starter. The logistics of getting modules to the right place and in time were essentially unworkable.

            You can argue that “culture” killed swapping. A PEOs job is to deliver capability that the Fleet will actually employ. Not something that they will not or cannot use.

          • Lazarus

            The PEO keeps presenting good capabilities to test, yet Congress continued to cut them based on DOT&E reports that said testing was not ready. There was a delay in MCM capability after RMS was cancelled but that is not the case with Knifefish and other systems. It became a circular cycle with no winners.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            “Good capabilities” is a pretty subjective term.I think DOT&E knows a bit about test plans, and can be trusted to judge when a system is ready for test.

            Conversely, the surface community doesn’t really have T&E experts. At least not like aviation. No VX squadrons or USN Test Pilot School. I doubt PEO-LCS was set up to support the massive amount of testing required.

            P-8A has been pretty successful wrt getting new increments of capability through T&E and into the Fleet. You might want to study that.

        • Lazarus

          Attacking PEO USC (it changed its name if you missed that) is really disengenous as it is composed of defense civilians just like you. In fact, people move around the NAVSEA organization all the time. You make PEO USC sound line some evil cabal intent on defrauding the government.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            I didn’t say that PEO-USC or its workforce are an evil cabal. Incompetent perhaps, although one might argue that they are being asked to execute the unexecutable.

            Any program is judged on the quality of its products. Specifically, the ability to deliver on cost, schedule and performance. LCS is 0 for 3.

            Cost – Seaframe cost twice as much to acquire vs original requirement. O&S costs likely to be much higher than all the ship types it is replacing.

            Schedule – Years late to deliver MCM and ASW capability.

            Performance – The specs have been lowered and CONOPS adjusted so many times that I have lost track.

          • PolicyWonk

            Cost – several times above what was originally required. O&S costs likely to be higher than all the ships it is replacing.
            =================================
            The original cost estimates for ships to be built that would have conformed to the original “street fighter” specifications, amounted to about $92M per sea-frame.

            Instead, LCS costs are an order of magnitude higher, over $900M per sea-frame (after purchasing, post-delivery yard modifications, mission package, etc.).

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            I was going with the Navy’s original cost estimate when the LCS program was established in 2001 — which was $220 million per seaframe. This is $310 million in 2018 dollars.

            LCS seaframes are currently running about $650-600 million apiece – including previous years cost-to-complete. The per unit costs varies based on the number procured – but about 2x more expensive.

            My bigger concern wrt costs are operating and support (O&S) costs.
            Fuel, manpower, repairs, etc. O&S typically accounts for the bulk of a ship’s total life cycle costs

            GAO estimates indicate LCS will have significantly higher O&S costs than all the ship types it is replacing.

            NAVSEA did a study in 2010 that showed a good way to reduce LCS costs was to reduce the speed requirement from 40 to 30 kts.

          • PolicyWonk

            Note: NAVSEA did a study in 2010(ish) that showed a good way to reduce LCS costs was to reduce the speed requirement from 40 to 30 kts.
            =====================================
            That would significantly reduce not only the price of LCS, but it would simultaneously reduce the complexity of the propulsion systems that have proven so unreliable.

            However, it would not do much for the sea-frames (which are built to commercial as opposed to military standards), which are a fundamental part of the problem.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            I haven’t read the report, but am assuming that a 30 knots design would be less complex/costly. There’d also presumably be substantial savings in fuel cost and other consumables.

            The ironic thing I learned from discussions with Al L. is that Navy is apparently looking into MCM module designs. Due to the weight, embarking these new modules would require the LCS to offload fuel and (you guessed it) reduce the top speed.

          • PolicyWonk

            The USN is looking (again) at MCM module designs? The MCM module has already been trashed and redesigned because of weight problems (so much for Laz’s claims of having sufficient room for growth).

            Are you saying they’re redesigning the MCM modules *again* (and having to offload fuel and suffer a performance hit at the same time)?

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            I’m just going with what Al L. told me. It does sound like they might be reconsidering options yet again. You can find the thread in this article.

          • Duane

            30 knots is not nearly fast enough to deal with high speed small boat swarms, which LCS will easily chase down and destroy with its 45 knot speed.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            At 120 knots, a maritime helo is heck of a lot faster than an LCS or a fast attack craft (FAC). Helos are also proven FAC killers (see Gulf War I).

            Once the decision was made to put MH-60 on the LCS, very high speed became both tactically irrelevant and a major liability to the overall design.

            LCS is essentially a minivan designed to go 160 miles per hour!

            A ship carrying an MH-60 needs to be at least 3,000 tons. Moving a ship that size at 45 knots means a substantial proportion of the hullform must be devoted to the engine.

            Speed isn’t free. Every knot over 30 costs (much) more than the last. Choosing high speed forced compromise on much more important things like payload, range, endurance and survivability.

          • Duane

            LCS wasn’t a program of record til 2004. The entire world changed radically between 2001 and 2004, in case you didn’t notice.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Yes, and many other Navy programs initiated then adapted well to the shift (P-8A, VA SSN, MH-60R/S, EA-18G, etc.).

            The problem with LCS is that:
            a. The requirements were non-sensical to be being with.
            b. It was designed to such a narrow set of circumstances that it has proven remarkably unsuited to peer competition / war at sea.

          • Duane

            LCS has proven remarkably well suited to the current environment. It has adapted quite radically in the years since it was authorized, with new weapons (OTH missiles, Hellfire launcher, precision guided moving target-capable gun rounds), new cutting edge unmanned systems (MQ-8, various unmanned MCM vessels), cutting edge VDS sonar (now delivered), new cutting edge combat info management system (AEGIS-derived COMBATTS-21) – virtually all of which gear did not exist in 2004 when the program was first authorized.

            If that isn’t adaptability and suitability to the new environment, then nothing is.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Sigh. Little of what you list is actually real or fielded yet. MQ-8 did its first deployment on an FF(G).

            And you have to be there in order to be effective. Three deployments in fourteen years.

          • Duane

            No deployments in 15 years for DDG-51.

            LCS beat the heck outa that record … first deployment in a mere 9 years, thus three years less than the FFGX will do even if it meets its planned program targets.

          • Curtis Conway

            The ocean stopped being made of water, and air stopped being the density of one (1). Don’t need eyes topside any more to see things coming (Signalman), and they cost money anyway. The equipment will do all the work, so Maneuvering Boards are out. If we need intelligence . . . we will just watch CNN?!

          • Duane

            We went from a world in which the USA was completely unchallenged anywhere on the planet militarily to one that was viciously attacked in NYC and Washington, DC on 9.11.01, in case you didn’t notice.

            The ability to deal with evolving littoral threats on any of the sensitive sea areas such as the Persian Gulf made the need for something far more capable than a patrol vessel a critical need in 2004. So LCS became a ship sized vessel with ship defenses and offensive capabilities for the littorals.

            Then again, between 2004 and 2014, the world of naval warfare had changed radically again, with the sudden rise of the Russian and Chinese navies .. resulting in distributed lethality and even more requirements for LCS to meet.

            But I guess you guys are all still living in the 1990s. Or you wish you were.

          • Al L.

            “Street fighter” was a concept, not a program, not a set of requirements, or specifications. It was determined to be strategically unworkable as the overseas basing needs were politically untenable. Therefore comparing LCS numbers to “street fighter” is irrelevant.

            O&S costs of LCS will not be higher on the basis of what the strategic intent of the ships are: to provide the maximum number of days forward based and deflect the low end missions now inefficiently tasked to the cruisers, destroyers and amphibs. (and/or ,in the case of MIW, reducing the risk of degradation to those ships) A total system cost comparison would include the comparative cost of the legacy systems deployed at nearly twice their historical rate(as LCS is intended to do) + the cost savings of reduced usage of the larger ships for lower end missions.

            The total fleet construct is what matters strategically. Comparing an apple to a pear on cost is foolish as its a tiny part of the overall picture.

          • PolicyWonk

            It was determined to be strategically unworkable as the overseas basing needs were politically untenable.
            ======================================
            Right. That’s why our MCM’s, PC’s, and EFT’s are overseas delivering value to the taxpayers while neither class of LCS is.

            Forward deployment is in the plan for LCS, but for what purpose is what remains to be seen. After more than 10 years since the first commissioning of LCS-1, the number of deployments for both classes of LCS combined still can be counted on less than one hand.

            So I’ll have to see it before I believe it.

          • Al L.

            The basing challenges of the few forward deployed PCs , MCMs and soon LCSs are minor compared to the dozens of berths needed in multiple ports to accommodate the small ship formations envisioned in streetfighter.

            After the Phillipines ordered the US out and USS Cole was bombed in Aiden the idea of depending on basing or supporting large groups of US ships in questionable ports became unsupportable.

            This is one reason why the ships which became LCS got bigger, got aviation added as a requirement, and got much more costly as compared to Streetfighter.

          • PolicyWonk

            Total. Utter. Hogwash.

            Congress appropriated funds to develop the “street fighter” concept, and these miserable, over-sized, monstrously expensive ferry/yacht conversions LCS are the result?

            Too big for the littorals; too small for blue water; insufficient room for growth; neither designed or built for combat in the littorals, while the USN itself refers to LCS as “the program that broke naval acquisition”. As if that weren’t bad enough, the USN’s own IG declared that both LCS classes are “unlikely to survive the missions they are assigned…”.

            FAIL.

          • Curtis Conway

            Does the term ‘Albatross’ come to mind?

          • PolicyWonk

            Curtis,

            That’s insulting to the albatross’s of the world!

            But point taken, and yes.

          • Lazarus

            Many things cost much more in 2019 than in 2003. The FFG7 went from $50m as envisioned by ADM Zumwalt in 1974 to $214m by the mid 1980’s.

            You seem the only person intent on keeping 2003 standards in 2019 and saying that something “fails” because it does not match a bean counter’s artificial timeline.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Your philosophy seems to be whatever and whenever the LCS program eventually delivers is exactly what was required.

            It’s a philosophy I’d expect from say a teenager attending a Phish concert. Not from a supposedly objective naval professional.

          • Lazarus

            i guess only bean counters are professionals.

            In any case I was never much of a Phish fan. They weren’t one of my MTV favs

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Like it or not – LCS is a defense program. Programs have objective standards they are expected to meet. They are called Key Performance Parameters.

          • PolicyWonk

            You make PEO USC sound line some evil cabal intent on defrauding the government.
            =================================
            Their actions (and the results) demonstrate this is/was in fact the case.

            PEO LCS (which is what they were called at the time) deliberately lied to the HoR’s and taxpayers, when they claimed the severe cost overruns in the program were due to the first LCS sea-frames being upgraded on the slipways to meet the Level 1 standard (after tremendous and adverse publicity regarding the lack of LCS survivability).

            It wasn’t until well over a year later, that PEO LCS finally admitted (in an article in Defense Industry Daily) that no version of LCS, past, present, or future, would EVER meet the USN’s Level 1 standard.

            Even the normally stoic editorial staff at Breaking Defense were *stunned* by that revelation, and took a surprisingly active part in the discussions in the comments.

            The very “designation” of LCS (“littoral combat ship”) is a blatant lie, exposed by then CNO Adm. Jonathan Greenert in an interview on Breaking Defense, when he declared that the “littoral combat ship” was “never intended to venture into the littorals to engage in combat…” (I had to re-read that statement several times, because I didn’t want to believe it).

            In fact, the only thing that remains or resembles the intent of the ONR’s “street fighter” concept of 2001, are the terms “littoral” and “combat”. Otherwise, if one weren’t following the sad saga of this program, but today read about the ONR’s “street fighter” concept of 2001, it would find these LCS classes entirely unrecognizable from the original concept.

            The actions of PEO LCS were clearly intended to deceive.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            “In fact, the only thing that remains or resembles the intent of the ONR’s “street fighter” concept of 2001, are the terms “littoral” and “combat”.”

            The fact that the Navy deployed a Littoral Combat Group with an LPD and DDG — but no LCS — indicates that even the LCSs applicability to littoral combat is questionable. Or at least not required.

          • Duane

            It was a 2 ship group to test out DDG ops with an amphib on an ad hoc basis – not a commentary on LCS.

            So the fact must also be that since that 2 ship group did not include an LHD, even though LHDs are part of the littoral world of warships, then LHDs must therefore be worthless?

            SMH squared!!!

            You propagandists routinely embarrass yourselves with your obvious lack of common sense.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Hmm. I would expect a ship that has Littoral Combat in the name to be vital to demo’ing a Littoral Combat Group. Silly me.

          • Duane

            Again, what about all the other ships that would normally be part of an ARG? But weren’t part of this particular ad hoc group. All amphibs are by definition littoral warships … cant land on the land without going through the littorals, by water or by air.

            You guys just slay me with your silly propaganda.

          • Curtis Conway

            When those so offended when ‘dealing with fact and truth’ can only throw out ‘stop attacking me’, you look like all the losing coaches in the NFL. I now see how Navy Surface Warfare has degraded to where it is today operationally on our platforms.

        • PolicyWonk

          Each LCS is stuck in one configuration: either SUW, ASW or MCM with no ability to reconfigure.
          =================================
          OK – I’m no fan of LCS by any stretch of the imagination, but I hadn’t heard about this (If true, that makes LCS a much lousier deal than it already is).

          I’d heard that the 3-day swap-out was abandoned and replaced by either a 30 or 90-day mission package swap-out.

          If what you say is true, might you have a reference you can provide?

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            See “Navy LCS Program: Background and Issues for Congress”, Congressional Research Service, dated October 22, 2018.

            It restates the 2016 CONOPS in part;

            “The crews for the 24 ships in the six divisions will be permanently fused with their associated mission package crews – the distinction between core and mission package crew will be eliminated.”

            “The 24 ships in the six divisions will experience changes in their mission packages (and thus in their mission orientations) infrequently if at all.”

          • Curtis Conway

            Defense News
            “Newly reorganized littoral combat ship program faces its first big test in 2019”
            By: David B. Larter   August 22, 2018

          • Duane

            You haven’t heard it because the artist is lying. LCS are totally reconfigurable within a 48 hour window.

    • Kypros

      Good thing they didn’t scrap the Avengers.

    • Al L.

      “So the grand total for LCS is 8 MCM vessels”

      That was the plan when only 28 LCS were funded, the build is now up to 38. Current plans are 10 SUW 10 ASW and 24 MIW modules . Do the math. That means at least 18 MIW LCS with 6 remaining MIW modules.

      The Navy is now considering 2 configurations of the MIW package. It is possible to put one of those MIW configurations and the modular weapons of a SUW package on an Indepencence class LCS under its architectural weight limit and meet all the KPPs except max speed by reducing its fuel load. ( This may be difficult on LCS-2) The Navy has awarded 19 LCS to Austal. If 5 are SUW/MIW thats 23 MIW modules afloat. There are 4 odd number LCS yet to be awarded. My bets are: 1 or 2 more LCS will be funded by Congress or at least 1-2 of the remaining odd numbers go to Austal.

      This would allow the Navy to meet its Congressional mandate to replace the legacy MCM numbers of 24 units while transitioning to the frigate.

      • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

        Yup, Congress keeps forcing the Navy to buy more LCS hulls than its stated requirements.

        Do you have a source for this MCM plan you describe? There still seems to be a lot of unanswered questions and technical risks. Things that in any well-run program would’ve been answered before committing to production.

        If I understand the plan you describe: it might be possible to use the LCS-2s as MCM vessels by offloading fuel and thus sacrificing speed. Remind me why we needed high-speed baked into the design?

        The fact that the Navy is building these ships and still debating how/if they’ll be used (and whether they’ll actually meet the requirements) speaks volumes on just how screwed up this all is.

        • PolicyWonk

          Remind me why we needed high-speed baked into the design?
          =================================
          The high-speed design of LCS fulfills what has become known as the “Sir Robin Requirement”, culled from “The Ballad Of Sir Robin” (in the classic movie: “Monty Python And The Holy Grail”), which stated: “When danger reared its ugly head he bravely turned his tail and fled…”.

          For further reference, see:

          https://www. youtube. com/watch?v=jYFefppqEtE

          Sadly, PEO LCS didn’t know that was supposed to be FUNNY.

          • Curtis Conway

            THAT is our navy of today.

          • Rocco

            Lol hahaha!!🤣

        • Lazarus

          Offloading fuel causes a speed sacrifice? Try range instead, but then again LCS 2 variants exceed the range KPP.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Ask Al L. He posted it.

            LCS-2 hasn’t demonstrated or published a range performance to my knowledge.

          • Lazarus

            No, open source media does not list such.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            So why are you talking about it?

      • Graeme Rymill

        The February 2018 Annual Report to Congress for the Littoral Combat Ship Mission Modules Program had these figures:

        The 44 deployable MPs include the following:
        24 MPs (8 SUW, 8 ASW, 8 MCM) to outfit the focused mission LCS ships that make up the LCS divisions of 3 deployable ships and l training ship
        3 MPs (1 SUW, l ASW, l MCM) in Mayport, FL to ensure high operational availability (Ao) of the training systems for the training ships in the LCS divisions and to provide spare systems for each focused mission area
        4 MPS (1 SUW, l ASW, 2 MCM) in San Diego, CA to outfit the test ships (LCS l-4)
        and provide additional spare capacity for training ships and deployers
        4 MPs (4 MCM) to outfit LCS 29-32 to mitigate warfighting capability needs across the MCM mission area
        9 MCM MPs for use on other Vessels of Opportunity (V OOs) to meet the warfighting capability requirements and account for MCM maintenance cycles

        So according to this operationally deployable LCS with the MCM Mission Package amount to 10 LCS – 6 of the 8 in the divisions and 4 LCS 29-32. The rest of the MCM Mission Packages are used in training, testing, spares or for “vessels of opportunity”. I am curious as to how “vessels of opportunity” will work. As someone else has pointed out if you aren’t training to use these sophisticated systems how on earth can you be expected to use them operationally?

        • Curtis Conway

          Good points. The MCM units have deployed on various units before (CVN/amphibs). Don’t know that that experience looks like in the fleet right now. Regular exercises drive that, and should continue to do so in the Atlantic, Pacific, Med, Baltic, and Arabian Sea. Heaven forbid we have to do it in Ice Infested waters.

  • Post

    Hope the MCM mission ships retain the SUW modules unless we are going to count on the opponent only jumping LCS vessels when they have a SUW module installed.

    • Duane

      It’s unclear what exactly a non-SuW LCS would be equipped with that isn’t already part of the SuW capability of LCS. They will all be equipped with the same guns (Mk 110 57mm and two Mk 46 30 mm and the 50 cal MGs), and the same OTH missiles and launchers (NSMs), the same radars and the same countermeasures, and the same aviation assets (MH60 and MQ-8).

      Perhaps the MCM equipped ships will dispense with the 50-cal equipped RHIBs that are considered part of the SuW package, since the MCM ships are instead carrying the unmanned surface and subsurface watercraft (CUSV and Knifefish UUV). There is only so much volume for carrying and supporting watercraft. Maybe the MCM could also dispense with the 24-cell Hellfire launcher, but as a defensive system ideal for littorals, I’d think the Navy would retain that for the MCM equipped hulls.

      • Post

        Besides the OTH weapon (part of other vessels in the class) every other aspect of the SUW is defensive, intended to help the LCS overcome cheap/fast missile boat threat which I assume would not turn around and go away upon learning that the ship is configured with a different module. Therefore the ENTIRE SUW package should be standard on all vessels that will be operating in the littorals. Can’t afford to send two ships out with one LCS to protect the other that is performing a different task. The FFG(X) too should retain the SUW package as a baseline and provide additional medium range defense and offensive capability via MK41.

        • Duane

          The weapons on LCS are both defensive and offensive. Designed to clear large small craft swarms and aircraft swarms from the littorals, to find and kill submarines in the littorals, and to find and neutralize minefields in the littorals.

          That’s essentially what I wrote, that is it not clear what the MCM equipped (or also, the ASW equipped) LCS would lack that is already part of the SuW equipped hulls. The Navy hasn’t stated the difference. I postulate that the main difference may be in not carrying the multiple RHIBs that are part of SuW, since they would take up internal hull volume otherwise occupied by the multiple watercraft that constitute a large part of the MCM package.

      • Graeme Rymill

        The two 30mm guns are part of the SUW Mission Package. USS Wichita doesn’t have 30mm guns as it isn’t intended to be an SUW ship. The 57mm gun is part of the core ship capability that all LCS have. Same for the NSM. The Hellfire launchers are part of the SUW package so won’t be fitted to any MCM LCS including the Wichita.

        The whole point of having Mission Packages is that each sub-variant – SUW, ASW or MCM has its own unique package on top of the core capabilities.

        • Duane

          The NSM was not part of the “core capability” of LCS because it wasn’t even decided upon for the class until 2017, and purchased in 2018. It was an add-on capability that came 14 years after the program was authorized, and a decade after the first ship was commissioned.

          In fact, until June of last year when the Navy announced the award of the NSM purchase contrast, most people in and around the Navy assumed that only SuW equipped LCS would get the OTH missiles, but in announcing the purchase last Jue the program manager also announced that ALL LCS would get the OTH missiles, regardless of mission package equipment.

          It’s really just a matter of cost, and volume, and weight, as to what can go on each individual LCS, and it is a matter of policy which items go on which ships, as in the OTH missile buy. Each LCS comes with a 100+ ton allowance for additional gear beyond the baseline mission modules, whether weapons or sensors or watercraft or whatever … giving a great deal of flexibility to what the Navy can do going forward.

          So if the Navy decides to put the LRASM deck launcher on LCS (which is a much heavier missile than NSM), or on just some of them, they have the capacity to do so. Or if the Navy wants to install an upgraded radar sensor, they can do the same.

          • Graeme Rymill

            Your speculation that non-SuW LCS will be equipped with additional weapons and sensors from the SuW Mission Package is just that: speculation.

          • Duane

            I didn’t speculate. I stated fact, that there is available capacity on the LCS for future upgrades, and that it is a matter of cost, volume, weight, and policy which equipment to put on each, or all, or some LCS as the Navy sees fit and as Congress authorizes and funds.

            That’s what enabled the installation of the OTH missiles and launchers, easily accomplished because of the flexibility of LCS to accept new equipment never originally planned. ASCMs were not even a glimmer of a need when LCS program was authorized in 2004, back in a time when the Navy thought it would be entirely consumed with fighting insurgencies, and the Chinese fleet was but a tiny shadow of what it is today. Stuff changes, and having ships that can easily adapt without having to be redesigned and rebuilt is an extremely valuable capability.

          • Graeme Rymill

            The photo of USS Wichita that USNI News has placed at the top of this article shows there are no 30mm guns installed. Care to reveal just when they will be fitted?

            Remember that you claim that “They will all be equipped with the same guns (Mk 110 57mm and two Mk 46 30 mm and the 50 cal MGs)” so obviously this must be a fact and not just speculation.

          • Duane

            Yes, the Mk 46s were omitted from Wichita, to be “optionally installed”. if the Wichita is called to move out of MCM, it’s likely the Mk46s will be plug in installations. Or, perhaps with available funding (Congress perennially short changes operational funding for LCS), the Mk 46s will be added anyway even if Wichita is still doing MCM. The 30mms are certainly useful in defending the MCM while its embarked unmanned systems do their mine hunting and neutralization work in contested seas.

          • Graeme Rymill

            First LCS to get NSM fitted will be USS Nantucket (LCS-27). Assuming construction starts in the next few months (not confirmed though) this ship should be commissioned in early 2023 as it takes about 4 years currently from being laid down to commissioning. In reality therefore NSM capability on an actual operational ship and not merely as a testing and development exercise will have taken not a decade but more like 14 years.

  • Duane

    It is not a matter of warning. It is a matter of circumstances, which tend to change. Unlike all other warships on the planet, LCS can change its capabilities within 48 hours. All other warships are stuck with whatever they had when commissioned … or at most, whatever can be built at great expense over years in a shipyard overhaul.

    • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

      No, Duane. The 2016 LCS CONOPS as characterized by CRS (“Navy LCS Program: Background and Issues for Congress”, October 22, 2018) states with my emphasis added:

      “The crews for the 24 ships in the six divisions will be permanently fused with their associated mission package crews -THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN CORE CREW AND MISSION PACKAGE CREW WILL BE ELIMINATED”.

      “The 24 ships in the six divisions will experience CHANGES IN THEIR MISSION PACKAGES (AND THUS IN THEIR MISSION ORIENTATIONS) INFREQUENTLY, IF AT ALL”.

      Even if the modules can theoretically be switched out in 2 days – which the Navy says it isn’t planning to do – how long will it take ship’s crew to learn an entirely new mission (MCM)? I’m guessing a lot longer than 2 days.

      • Duane

        CRS is not the Navy. CRS is a bunch of congressional research interns, low paid staffers.

        The actual statements by actual naval leadership (three and four stars) said absolutely nothing about MMs being permanent installations never to be changed. What I wrote is what the NAVY said, not low paid 20 something interns.

        • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

          Good lord, Duane. Do some research. The LCS CONOPS you want is not the LCS CONOPS we are actually getting.

          The description I gave you came directly from the Navy’s 2016 LCS CONOPS as cited by CRS. Backed up by discussions with OPNAV.

          Read “The US Navy’s Great Littoral Combat Ship Reboot Is Here” in the National Interest (9/9/16) for a summary.

          PS – CRS are not “research interns”. Ron O’Rorke’s been writing about LCS for almost a decade. Do yourself a favor and read the report.

          • Duane

            Research interns is exactly what CRS is. They are not the Navy, and have no connection to the Navy. They are patronage jobs handed out by Congressmen to family members of political contributors.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Go read what CRS is. You are making yourself look foolish.

    • sid

      “LCS can change its capabilities within 48 hours.”

      Outside of some now old and dusty .ppt slides, that is pure fantasy Duane.

      • Duane

        Not fantasy. That is what it means to be “modular”.It is how the ship and the mission packages are and always were designed and built and will be operated.

        • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

          No. Read about the new 2016 CONOPS. The Navy has given up on rapid module swapping. It’s a failed concept.

          • Lazarus

            It was a choice by SURFPAC and not a failure. The interfaces aboard the class support change out of modular equipment. Big difference.

          • sid

            Sure it was a failure, and thus abandoned as such.

          • Lazarus

            It was never tested so how could it be a failure?

          • sid

            Wait! You just posted this Laz!!!!!!

            “The SUW module was once installed in that length of time”

            Now, which one of your statements represents the actual truth???

          • Lazarus

            The concept of module swapping with multiple deployed LCS was never tested. One LCS had an SUW module installed in 48 hours. There is a difference.

          • sid

            “One LCS had an SUW module installed in 48 hours”

            Did that entail anything more than putting an H-60 on the deck and RHIB
            in the well?

            Please provide links.

            Duane stated this:

            “Unlike all other warships on the planet, LCS can change its capabilities within 48 hours”

            Which is demonstrably false.

            No one in this thread …including you until your little attempted pivot in your last post…mentioned anything about “module swapping with multiple deployed LCS”

          • Lazarus

            That was always the intent. LCS was meant to be a system for achieving a greater percentage of deployed SSC; it should never have Ben evaluated on the basis of one or two units.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Hmm. I thought you said that “testing only proves that testing works.”

            Your strategy with LCS to date has been to assume it will work because you want it to work. Why not just stick with that? 🙂

          • Lazarus

            Some things take time to work; especially if a number of new systems are integrated as occurred with LCS. Operational evaluation by surface navy experts over time to correct problems and reach full fleet operational capability works. Canned, pass/fail tests that are cherry picked by political appointees who don’t have to pay for the tests do not.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Translation: build a bunch of LCS to see if building a bunch of LCS was a smart idea.

          • Duane

            LCS works, period.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            LCSs didn’t work much in 2018. At least not forward deployed – which is the reason for having them.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            I think you mean SURFOR and not SURFPAC…

            Module swapping has never been executed on a Fleet-wide scale. There are no plans to do so. In fact, SURFOR has merged the core and mission crews together such that it is effectively impossible to execute module swapping. You’d have to retrain the whole crew.

            Delivering an expensive technical feature that the Fleet doesn’t want, says is impractical to use, and which it effectively rules out through DOT_LPF seems a lot like failure to me.

        • sid

          The modular concept was abandoned as a failure over two years ago Duane…

          Even when the fantasy was still alive, no one ever claimed “within 48 hours” anyway.

          Rowden touted “less than 96 hours” in 2014.

          • Lazarus

            Not a failure, just a choice as it was never really tested.

          • Duane

            Uhhh, nope. Nothing has been abandoned whatsoever with the modular concept. Indeed, CNO recently stated that modularity is inherent and essential to the future fleet design, so that we don’t build ships that remain unconvertible for the rest of their service lives.

            Converting from one module to another is easy peasy, done within 48 hours, and will be done as the fleet needs dictate.

            Otherwise the Navy would simply cancel out all the mission packages .. which of course is the opposite of what the Navy is doing.

      • Lazarus

        The SUW module was once installed in that length of time. As with the LCS 2 variant UNREP; just because you don’t believe something does not mean it was not true.

        • sid

          1st. Of the LCS 2 unrep. There has been exactly ONE documented in the decade the ships have been in the water.

          Their breakway tune needs to be Etta Jame’s “At Last”

          Feel free to share evidence of any others.

          And like that staged RAS demo in flat water on a pretty day, please provide evidence of an LCS module swap in 48 hours.

          • Lazarus

            None of my ships unreped much unless they were deployed or on a major exercise and photographers were not always present. Only one LCS 2 variant has deployed (LCS 4) so there is an understandable paucity if photo evidence.

          • sid

            You were on a FFG 7 right?

            While that may apply to the PC you were on, it very certainly does not apply to the FFGs….Or any other 3000 ton ship escort sized ship the USN has sent to sea in the last (near) century.

            The USN has been historically proud to show off its ships conducting UNREPS.
            A simple google search will pull up 1000’s of examples for every similar sized ship…except…the LCS’s.

          • Lazarus

            LCS does not deploy as part of a battle group as the 3000 ton DE’s from a half century ago in the past. It has gone to an advanced base and operated regionally; usually refueling in port. My FFG refueled a lot but it was part of a battle group. The PC refueled astern once or twice but that’s it. Don’t think anyone cared much about photographing it.

          • PolicyWonk

            After more than a decade since the first LCS was “commissioned”, the appallingly low number of deployments for ANY reason/mission says all one needs to know about the failure of the program.

            For conducting mere presence missions (which normally amounts to cruising around, flying an oversize flag, and doing an occasional port visit), even the notoriously weak SUW module should be more than adequate.

  • Post

    What degraded NSM? Are you claiming that the NSM chosen by the USN for the LCS and the FFG(X) is different from the standard NSM operated by Norway and selected by Poland?

  • Michael Hoskins, Privileged

    I don’t have a dog in the LCS debate. I do have more than a little experience in the mine warfare business, mining and MCM.
    Regardless the latest whizz-bang technology, MCM is tedious, hard, seaman work. Until you have found and neutralized them all, you’re still dealing with a mine field.
    No one talks about neutralizing. Are we still using the mk77 with ‘Evenrude’ (RHIB)?

    For what it’s worth. Approaches to mine fields are limited. 1. Don’t go there. Mine field wins. 2. Sweep first, and well enough to achieve a pHit that is acceptable to the tactical commander’s mission. That boils done to Don’t Go There Right Now. Mine field wins. Resources spent doing mine hunting/clearing. 3. Damn the torpedoes full speed ahead. The gods of war determine the out come.

    Mines are not primarily ship killers. They function best when unchallenged (option 1). Mission kill and/ or mission disruption are great outcomes, options 1,2 and 3. Sending a cripple home to clog up shipyard space is a good result.

    If the tactical decision is to sweep a few passes first, the issue becomes getting the MCM asset where it needs to be. The real world being what it is, the asset will always be in the wrong place and require a long time to get there.

    And finally, one of the key missions of USN sweeps is breakout. That means and up and running system in San Diego, Pearl Harbor, Puget Sound, Norfolk, Mayport, New London etc.

    Ta

    • Ed L

      Your posting sounds like a briefing that was given to the crew over CCTV back in 74 when we were headed to Egypt to clear mines from the Sues Canal in operation Nimbus Moon. The sues canal which had been closed as the result of the 6 day war. Was finally reopened in June of 75. The Nimbus operation was multi national and cleared tens of thousand of mines and unexplode ordinance from the Sues Canal Zone. I was 19 at the time and took my turn working with our EOD driving the LCVP around. Not enough metal to set off a magnetic mine. We heard the EOD even found a few mines from WW2 that had sunk to the bottom

      • Michael Hoskins, Privileged

        Lol. I was there…OIC Mildet USNS Maria’s TAO-57. We probably gassed y’all up a couple of times.

        • Ed L

          More than likey fun times.

    • publius_maximus_III

      “The real world being what it is, the asset will always be in the wrong place and require a long time to get there.”

      Even when the asset is where it needs to be, not all the skills needed may be. I recall reading right here in USNI News within the past several years some sort of cable parting on a minesweeper, I think over in the Middle East. Nobody there knew how to fix it. I think they had to fly an old hand out from the States to get things working again.

    • Graeme Rymill

      “one of the key missions of USN sweeps is breakout. That means and up
      and running system in San Diego, Pearl Harbor, Puget Sound, Norfolk,
      Mayport, New London etc.”
      As the Osprey class have been sold off or scrapped and the Avenger class are forward deployed in Bahrain and Japan what resources are currently available to perform this important task?

      • Michael Hoskins, Privileged

        Precisely

  • Post

    The operational NSM is not a networked weapon. Not with Norway, and not with Poland (chosen). The first networked missile in the family will be JSM which is in developmental testing and is an air-launched weapon that will IOC next decade. Neither Kongsberg, nor Raytheon have yet marketed a networked NSM but they will probably target the upgrade market given the installed base in Norway and other users who have selected the weapon (Poland, USN, Germany etc).

    • Duane

      It is easy enough to add comms to this or any other missile.

  • Post

    So there is no evidence whatsoever that points to a different “downgraded” spec compared to the baseline NSM operational with Norway therefore your claim is wrong unless you can provide verifiable sources that suggest changes to the specifications of the missiles as chosen by the USN compared to the NSM operated elsewhere.

  • Post

    “Really,the whole contract is worth less than two LCS.
    Possibly a single one.”

    Are you really claiming that only one LCS will be equipped with the NSM? There is a reason why the USN awarded a contract with $850 Million worth of options baked in.

  • Post

    What? The current contract is nearly $900 million with options and will involve integration with the CS and ships and procurement. I am sure once the FFG(X) is awarded, the Navy will opt for a follow on contract towards the middle of next decade.

  • Post

    The NSM does not have a data link like “Jane’s International Defence Review” – Beyond the horizon: NSM missile homes in on Harpoon replacement market. Furthermore, Kongsberg/Raytheon have confirmed that there would be no changes to the NSM for the USN compared to the baseline variant fielded with Norway – “There are no alterations scheduled for the USN version.” Chris Daily (Raytheon) as quoted by Jane’s Navy International from June 2018 (Article: “No changes planned for USN version of NSM”.

    The Kongsberg family Anti Ship missile that has Link-16 based data-link for Mid course updates is the Joint Strike Missile (JSM) which is currently in development and will be beginning integration testing soon as an air launched weapon. Kongsberg has hinted, as recently as last year, that they will consider upgrading the NSM with a data-link – See “Beyond the horizon: NSM missile homes in on Harpoon replacement market” Jane’s International Defence Review.

  • Post

    So why don’t you post your own evidence in support of the claim that the Norwegian NSM’s have a data-link? I’ll await an actual credible source especially in light of officials from Kongsberg (the OEM for the NSM) claiming that it doesn’t but there being a potential for its future iterations to incorporate one that is being trialed on the yet to be operationalized JSM.

  • Post

    There is a DIRECT quote from Hans Kongelf, Vice President missile systems Kongsberg that makes it abundantly clear that the NSM lacks a data-link and that they could potentially look at one in future iterations of the weapon. It comes straight from the OEM that designed and developed the weapon. How does one get more official than that? You can view it as I had cited the article that contains the quote.

  • Post

    The contract does not speak to the NSM loadout on the LCS or the FFG(X). The only reference to the launchers and missiles is in the RFI documents that stipulate the planned total acquisition (with options) of 40 Fire Control Suite (FCS) and 320 Encanistered Missiles which comes to exactly 8 missiles per FCS but it also stipulates that there will be flexibility in configurations ranging from 4 missiles per ship up to 16 missiles per ship.

  • Post

    No it does not. There is one FCS per deployed capability so 40 in total for current contract award. Also included are 102 Launching Mechanisms capable of launching 4 Encanistered Missiles each or 2×102 Launching Mechanisms with the capability to launch 2 x Encanistered Missiles each. The data shared with industry clearly indicates that they want to deploy 4-16 missiles depending upon the capability (LCS vs FFX , mission etc etc). The exact quote is – ” Ship sets will range from 1 to 4 LMs to provide ships the capability to fire from 4 to 16 EMs”.

  • Post

    So here we are – There is absolutely no evidence that you can present to support your claim that the NSM lacks a data-link. While on the other hand, I can point to a direct quote from the VP of Missile Systems at Kongsberg who clearly states that the missile currently lacks a data-link but they may in the future look into incorporating the data link they are currently developing on the yet to be operational JSM. This can be cross-checked and verified by anyone here. Also, folks can directly reach out to Kongsberg to confirm.

    I’ll leave it to folks here to draw their own conclusions.

    • Post

      * has a data-link

  • Post

    I am not getting “riled up”. I am just pointing out the fact that that the US Navy is acquiring the same NSM that is being operated in Norway, and Poland and that will form the baseline capability for Germany. Kongsberg, the maker of the weapon has from time to time commented that JSM capability could be rolled into the NSM and one of the things the JSM has that the NSM doesn’t is the ability to receive mid-course updates via a Link-16 compatible data-link.

    There are plenty of things to use to criticize the LCS program without resorting to essentially making stuff up especially when the NSM’s lack of a data-link is fairly easy to dig up and is common knowledge amongst folks who have spoken to Kongsberg or are aware of the system and its development over the years or have gone through the umpteen times Kongsberg has spoken of the missiles capability. In fact, the VP at Kongsberg goes to great lengths to actually claim that at this stage of its life-cycle the NSM does not need a data-link.

  • Post

    As I had mentioned in my earlier reply, the contract does not shed any light on the number of missiles, or launchers. That information is in the RFI released to all interested OTHWS suppliers who wished to compete.

    I am not sure how to link on this medium but I can point you to look it up for yourself. The Request for Information and the subsequent Industry day from late 2016 for the Over-the-Horizon Weapon System includes what the US navy was looking to contract.

    The contract awarded on May-30 of last year did not list the number of launchers or missiles in the options but only referenced to the $ amount ($850-900 MM with options). Navy asked industry for information on 40 FCS’s, 102 Launching Mechanisms (4 EMs per LM) and 320 Encanistered Missiles (EMs) along with 15 Test Configured Encanistered Missiles (EM-T). It also informs interested parties that “Ship sets will range from 1 to 4 LMs to provide ships the capability to fire from 4 to 16 EMs”. As i said this program will run for a while unless they recompete the OTHWS in the future so once the FFG(X) is in production and deliveries pick up the Navy will likely order more weapons to create a sufficient stockpile to support the entire SSC force.

    It is pretty safe to assume that the Navy will indeed kit out the SCS force with between 4-16 NSM’s (i.e. b/w 1-4 LM’s per vessel) depending upon the type of vessel and the role.

  • Duane

    Pay no attention to this professional Russian troll who occasionally comes here to troll the comment pages. He spouts untruths routinely, just a flack for Putin’s Chef.

  • Duane

    Nope – no other ship on the planet has this capability.

  • Leroy

    On a side-note, I wonder if the MV-22 could pull a minesweeping sled? Perhaps one specially built/sized for it. For internal carry. Certainly should be able to rapidly deploy to an AOR anywhere in the world. Could start working while waiting for more capable assets like the LCS w/MCM.

  • Ed L

    Minesweeper question. Will the LCS’s work solo minesweeping Or as a Squadron of Minesweepers. A solo LCS minesweeping in a coastal area makes a tempting target for Artillery, Tanks, RPG’s. Don’t give none of this can’t work against ships. That what people were saying that about RPG’s couldn’t take out helicopters. Then it happen

  • thebard3

    Is She in maintenance availability yet?