The LCS Program continues to fail miserably.


The Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship program, while smaller than the Joint Strike Fighter program in dollars, is to my mind a bigger failure, from conception to execution.

The GAO was directed to review the deployment of USS Freedom to Singapore. It’s not a very pretty picture.

 

al.com also has a piece on the LCS program that drops this little bombshell:

Largely missing from the picture was the USS Independence built by Austal, which spent most of that time homeported in San Diego, Calif., according to the document. Navy officials indicated they had “notional plans to deploy an Independence variant LCS sometime before 2017,” according to the report. (emphasis mine-XBrad)

The LCS ships were built with a notional service life of 20-25 years (as opposed to a notional service life of 30 years for most service combatants). The USS Independence was commissioned in January of 2010. To date, she’s not made any deployments, and the best the Navy can offer is the possibility they’ll send her out before the next three years are up?

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “The LCS Program continues to fail miserably.

  1. Originally DE/Frigates were built with an intended service life of 20-25 years. Given the lives of those we transferred to places like Turkey and the Philippines, we could have kept them going a lot longer.

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  2. NaCly Dog

    I’d rather have a reboot of the FFG-7 class than more LCS hulls. Even Cyclone PCs would be better, if they were forward deployed or uses as Naval Base patrol craft. Lots of good frigate designs, but NAVSEASYSCOM and Big Navy are still not seeing it.

    FWIW, back in the day I asked CDR Sal if we could mount lasers or rail guns on LCS. The answer then was no. Even with them mounted, the crew size, engineering plant issues, range, and maintenance failures should rule out more LCS hulls.

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  3. timactual

    “The Navy envisioned the LCS as a ship that could operate with a much smaller crew size than other surface combatants, with preventative maintenance duties performed primarily by contractors. This concept would in turn lead to lower operations and support costs, which traditionally account for about 70 percent of the total cost over a ship’s lifetime.”
    page 5

    Just some of the bs used to justify the LCS. Transfer costs from operations accounts to contracting accounts, then claim a savings by not including contracting costs, since they are not uniformed personnel.

    “There are three mission packages (surface warfare, mine countermeasures, antisubmarine warfare), and nine different capability increments within these three packages. All carry different crews and equipment and operate differently from one another. Increment 2 of the surface-warfare mission package does not include the surface-to-surface missile that is planned for increments 3 and 4.”
    Page 7, note 12

    More idiocy. How many modules and variants, each with appropriately rated crews, do we need, and where will they be stationed? Expensive equipment and personnel sitting around some major port gathering rust for years before that particular module is needed. And what if it is needed in a different ocean?

    Are there to be three mission packages with crews for each “seaframe” (aka hull)? There have to be at least two, else the whole concept is useless.

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    • I think they’re looking at a total of somewhere around 1.5~2.0 modules per seaframe total.

      You do understand why I consider the LCS to be a more fundamentally flawed program than the F-35, right?

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    • timactual

      Not sure I know your exact reasoning, but we reached the same conclusion. Every time I read something about the LCS it just gets worse. I couldn’t read your link past page 7 before I got too disgusted to read any more. I don’t see how anything could be more flawed.

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    • USNVO

      Well, the modules will be updated as the additional variants are added, so at most you will see two variants of each module. Since they will be made of incremental improvements, the vast majority of the modules will be common, so even that isn’t telling the whole story. Variant 2 of the MCM Module might only include adding a USV for instance with everything else being common. Additionally, since the modules operate on a separate network, the ship will use any of the modules and variants without any updates.

      As to your comment on on expensive equipment and personnel sitting around gathering dust, that was the primary justification of the LCS in the first place. The single mission ships in the force, especially MIW ships (MCM/MHCs) did virtually nothing on a regular basis, and when required were a long way from the fight. Even when forward deployed, the MCMs with there blazing speed and awesome firepower were virtually worthless at anything but MIW.

      LCS, theoretically, gives you the possibility of having MIW assets that can actually do something else while waiting for the once in a service life opportunity to use their MIW capabilities. Specifically, they can be OPVs, just like the FFxGs are, only FFGs suck at that role (well, they do it pretty well but cost a relative fortune in the process). Of course then they put a ridiculous 10ft draft and 50kts speed requirement on it and everything went down hill from there, but the concept was/is sound. Of course, they also did a horrible job of explaining what the ships were for. For instance, can you tell me which class of ships were replaced by LCS so far? And it is not the FFG-7, their warfighting role was replaced long ago by the DDG51FLT2A, the ones left were just kept around to support maritime patrol obligations. The LCS, as bad as it is, is way cheaper than any of the FFG-7 patrol ships.

      As for modules, you can actually probably get by with something like 1.5 per ship if the right flavor are picked. Lets face it, the LCS that do SOUTHCOM counterdrug duties will probably never need an MCM module. So the vast majority of the LCS will need one ASuW package (for conducting MIO/Law Enforcement) and a limited pool of MIW and ASW packages (say 12 of each for 50 LCS) for training and wartime employment.

      So, to summarize, LCS has been very poorly executed, just not for the reasons you cite.

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