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5 Quick Fixes for LCS

July 7, 2010
tags:

USS Freedom littoral combat ship. Can she be saved?

It was supposed to be the birth of a new Navy. The centerpiece of the plan to bring the fleet into the 21st century, to restore its falling numbers and take the war into the littoral regions of the earth. Instead the littoral combat ship has become the poster-child of what is wrong with the modern US Navy, still clinging to old ideas, uncertain of the type of enemy it must face, and dependent on a shipbuilding industry grown fat and uncompetitive after decades of building only the world largest, most expensive, and technically advanced warships.

At 3000 tons, the LCS is too large for shallow water patrolling, yet its main armament, probably adequate for a patrol boat is unsuitable for Blue Water sailing. Neither is its range, also more like a patrol boat enough for keeping up with the battlefleet. While there is potential for upgrading the hull to more survivable standards, its current cost of $700 million, means uparming would give it a destroyer price, at a shadow of the larger warship’s capabilities. Ten years from concept to first deployment, it will likely be another decade before they join the fleet in any numbers.

So what to do? Obviously the Navy needs some type of patrol boat, which itself will take years to get to the fleet. In the meantime, we are likely stuck with at least 15-20 of these very expensive ships. Here are a few proposals of how the LCS program can be fixed to get at least some money back from the taxpayer’s investment:

  • New Engines-Obviously the price should be reduced. Some savings could be procured by replacing the powerful and gas guzzling water jets with old fashioned diesels. Speed should be about 30 knots since many experts have agreed the extra speed is useless, for a ship intended to sail in harms way, not run away.
  • Fast Transport-With this done, reducing the cost of future vessels, various roles might be envisaged, such as an APD or fast transport. Already the Marines are investigating the idea of using high speed catamarans for this purpose, and New Wars and others have pointed out previously how this might get the Marine closer to where they need to be in modern war, as opposed to their current fleet of also too big and costly amphibs.
  • Mothership-Obviously with its puny main armament, the LCS is going to need escorting in shallow waters. Instead of placing a further burden on our over-worked destroyers, the new ship could act as a mothership in benign waters for small craft, such as Stiletto or riverine boats like the CB90, for Special Forces and Marines. It’s helicopter and shallow draft would be an asset to such a force, though lack of space would inhibit it supporting larger warships like corvettes or diesel submarines.
  • UAV Carrier-The future Influence Squadrons are going to need air support, obviously. There is increasing interest by the Navy in the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, with the Fire Scout intended specifically for the LCS. I still think a catapult and recapture system is a better way to get the more-capable land-based UAVs to sea, and their is plenty of room on the ship forward, aft, and atop the hangar for the positioning of catapults.
  • Battery Ship-Resembling somewhat the old monitor CSS Virginia anyway, here’s hoping her lifespan in combat will be longer! One way to prepare her for service in shallow seas would be the addition of armor, not the expensive Kevlar type but with sheet metal placed on in layers, as much as she could manage. Then, place some surplus Army guns, like the venerable 105mm, 30mm, 40mm, Gatling guns, mortars, whatever is on hand, bolted on deck. Then send her to Somalia!

Those are a few ideas to salvage something from this misguided program, which we are getting whether we like it or not. Any ideas of your own to fix the LCS?

*****

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65 Comments leave one →
  1. Bill permalink
    July 13, 2010 8:42 am

    “Most likely, of course, any pick is a bad choice, so they can’t win!”

    It does not become you to be that glib, Mike. That statement is not true at all. The points made earlier should have been clear: The LCS-2 CAN be reconfigured a dozen different ways and rationally so. It can be operated slow..it can be de-powered to make it permanently ‘slower’ and still be very efficient. So IF we are ‘stuck’ with one of the two LCS..there is a very clear choice to be made if technical grounds mattered a wit.

    LCS-1 is simply an overweight ‘was supposed to plane’ monhull that nothing much can be done with.

  2. Mike Burleson permalink*
    July 13, 2010 7:51 am

    “I’d lay odds that Navy will pick the wrong platform.”

    Most likely, of course, any pick is a bad choice, so they can’t win!

  3. leesea permalink
    July 12, 2010 10:13 pm

    I have to agree with Bill about the Navy picking the wrong LCS from down select. He and I know the problems with LCS-1 and advantages of LCS-2 over it.

    BUT having actually sat in the room when NAVSEA types decide which yard gets the award, I can tell you Bill is absolutely right when he says:

    “I’d lay odds that Navy will pick the wrong platform. It’s what Navy does best, especially when faced with Lockmart lobbying power.”

    The monohull “looks” like a conventional displacement ship and hull can probably can be constructed cheaper than the tri by a traditional ship builder, so that meets the award criteria dahh!

    When the Navy starts converting the LCS the hull will squat so badly…

    The other interesting thing is what will happen to the two hulls of the losing design?

  4. sid permalink
    July 12, 2010 12:37 pm

    the trimaran version offers numerous ‘escape options’ and re-spec and re-design elbow room as the Navy tries to quietly slink away from this whole LCS debacle.

    However, it would still be a very expensive(but supposedly AFFORDABLE), hard to produce, less than Level I Survivability Standard, MAJOR WARSHIP, in a 200 ship fleet, that will not be able to AFFORD losses…..

  5. RhodeIslander permalink
    July 11, 2010 5:38 pm

    a picture is worth $700,000,000 dollars:

    Actually the larger warship cost far less than LCS-1.

    It’s really embarrassing when a tiny country like SINGAPORE is building far more advanced future looking warships than the United States Navy.

    We need to buy our future LCS ‘s from Singapore, please.

  6. Bill permalink
    July 11, 2010 4:42 pm

    “we are going to get some whether we want them or not”

    yes, but….the discussion correctly focuses on the fact (not opinion..technical fact) that the trimaran version offers numerous ‘escape options’ and re-spec and re-design elbow room as the Navy tries to quietly slink away from this whole LCS debacle. That said, my betting dollars are staying in my pocket when it comes to putting money on which version gets selected for the ‘down select’ decision and therefore which of the two we’re going to ‘get whether we want them or not’. If I was just a little more of a betting man..I’d lay odds that Navy will pick the wrong platform. It’s what Navy does best, especially when faced with Lockmart lobbying power.

  7. Mike Burleson permalink*
    July 10, 2010 2:18 pm

    Appreciate all the great comments and ideas on this post. A couple saw where I was coming from, certainly not advocating continued production, just a frustrated resignation that we are going to get some whether we want them or not. Kind of like the old Alaska battle cruisers: great looking ships, but I think their day has passed even as they hit the water.

  8. Al L. permalink
    July 10, 2010 12:12 pm

    Bill said:
    “To put a finer point on what I meant earlier; if you decide to go slower and/or carry more ‘on purpose’ then the current LCS-1 hull design is entirely the wrong one to stick with.”

    If future flexibility in any parameter is desired then LCS-1 is the wrong hull.

    Using my 5 quick fixes as an example:

    1. LCS-2 has already made about 30 + knots on 2 diesel & 1 turbine during testing. On LCS-1 the power ratios of the diesel/turbine mix vs the speed/power/fuel consumption curves makes this a marginal proposition.

    2. On LCS-1 finding free deck space without conflict, and with good firing arcs is tough. On LCS-2 no problem.

    3. The high up location of the missile space on LCS-1 and position above the hanger could make this impossible. On LCS-2 with the missile space in the forward main hull its hard to find a reason why it wouldn’t work.

    4. Might be too much system conflict and weight problems with the proximity of the modular weapon stations on LCS-1. On LCS-2 the 3 stations are so well distributed that such problems should be unlikely.

    5. LCS-2 : that big mission deck inside, lots of open flat decks outside, and provisions for 3 high bunks just makes it more suitable for mixing the SUW, ASW, and MIW equipment as well as adding extras for future challenges.

  9. sid permalink
    July 9, 2010 6:06 pm

    To put a finer point on what I meant earlier; if you decide to go slower and/or carry more ‘on purpose’ then the current LCS-1 hull design is entirely the wrong one to stick with.

    Apologies if I mischaracterized what you said in any way Bill…

    (I’m still goin’ with the third and fourth boar hawg mammaries personally)

    ;-)

  10. D. E. Reddick permalink
    July 9, 2010 3:32 pm

    Chuck & Heretic,

    Jeanne d’Arc might have been a more heavily armed cruiser if ever completed with some of the weaponry originally intended or speculated to have been intended for installation.

    The original armament was to have included:
    Six of the 100 mm (3.9″) dual purpose guns;
    A quadruple 375 mm ASW mortar (forward of the bridge);
    — OR —
    A twin-arm launcher for the Masurca SAM system (forward of the bridge).

    As built, Jeanne d’Arc had only four of the 100 mm (3.9″) guns when commissioned in 1964. In 1974 six Exocet AShM launchers were installed (forward of the bridge). Then, the two guns mounted at the stern were removed.

    If the Masurca SAM had been installed and then with the addition of the Exocet AShMs, then Jeanne d’Arc would have been a very capable helicopter cruiser / escort providing defense for amphibious forces. But, that’s a what if scenario which never materialized…

  11. Bill permalink
    July 9, 2010 3:10 pm

    To be fair..the three-jet (two main plus a booster) arrangement on monohulls is quite common; we’ve done a number of very high speed megayachts that way. (Mostly Don Shedd and Frank Mulder designs, for those who follow HPMV NA more closely). Its a nice arrangement, somewhat analagous to the WW2 PT’s , eliminating complex CODAG/DOG/DAGNABIT gearboxes in favor of simply selecting which engines to run and which not to.

    To put a finer point on what I meant earlier; if you decide to go slower and/or carry more ‘on purpose’ then the current LCS-1 hull design is entirely the wrong one to stick with.

  12. sid permalink
    July 9, 2010 11:59 am

    1.Can 1 turbine engine, go with a 3 jet set up. 2 diesel,1 turbine. Save space, weight & $

    Apparently you missed Bill’s (who actually has design experience in high speed vessels) take below Al ?

    Exactly. You do not ‘re-design’ an HPMV to go slower..and if you were even stupid enough to try it, thre are virtually no cost savings worth getting excited about.

  13. navark permalink
    July 9, 2010 9:26 am

    Heretic wrote: “It would be totally awesome if we could build an underwater warfare optimized frigate which had diesel-electric drive, complete with all electric “silent running” option, for use as a surface sub hunter and ASW par excellance platform, with a secondary role as a minesweeper (and mine layer?).”

    There is something similar currently in the works, although as an unmanned autonomous vehicle and without any requirement for MIW at present.

    This may be the only way to proceed to achieve sufficient numbers at an acceptable cost. And, not least, acceptable risk to the crew.

  14. Chuck Hill permalink
    July 8, 2010 8:05 pm

    As originally built the Jeanne D’Arc had four 100 mm guns. Two side by side on the Fantail below and behind the flight deck and one on either side at the forward edge of the bridge. Jeanne D’Arc was finished in 1964. The 100 mms were the ship’s anti-aircraft protection, so it was natural that they would want 360 protection, just as American cruisers and battleships had 5″/38s on either side. Exocets occupied the center-line forward. The two guns on the stern were removed in 1990.

  15. Heretic permalink
    July 8, 2010 5:38 pm

    re: Hudson

    The recently retired Jeanne D’Arc is something like what you are describing, with a monohull and main guns, starboard and port, built into the superstructure–a French preference.

    I was not aware of that fact. Thank you for sharing.

    —–

    re: Mike

    We aren’t prepared for the kind of simple but effective warfare you are talking here.

    I think you’ve hit on something. Well done.

    I have? Uh … what did I hit??

    —–

    re: Heretic

    Build a separate dedicated minesweeper/mine layer/ASW ship oriented around optimizing underwater warfare, pair the two together on deployments, and call it a day.

    It would be totally awesome if we could build an underwater warfare optimized frigate which had diesel-electric drive, complete with all electric “silent running” option, for use as a surface sub hunter and ASW par excellance platform, with a secondary role as a minesweeper (and mine layer?).

  16. Hudson permalink
    July 8, 2010 11:49 am

    Heretic,

    The recently retired Jeanne D’Arc is something like what you are describing, with a monohull and main guns, starboard and port, built into the superstructure–a French preference.

  17. Mike Burleson permalink*
    July 8, 2010 11:46 am

    Heretic–since the launch of the HMS Dreadnought, there has been trend toward designing guns and turrets for long-range warfare. Looking at the old predreadnoughts and even into the new era, you had turrets geared toward the broadside at close range, still recalling Nelson’s Navy 100 years hence. During the world wars, small ships like PT boats would often attempt to get “under the guns”, with varying degrees of success.

    This old but new type tactic is exactly what the Iranians and others will attempt in their swarm tactics, to get under the guns of the Allies who are gearing for warfare at long range and whose favorite weapon are guns and missiles which can shoot other missiles out of the air, or hit land targets hundreds of miles away . We aren’t prepared for the kind of simple but effective warfare you are talking here.

    I think you’ve hit on something. Well done.

  18. Heretic permalink
    July 8, 2010 11:21 am

    Here a (really) odd thought. What if LCS-2 were instead designed as a helicopter/gunship?

    This is going to sound really weird … so bear with me as I lay out some radical rethinking.

    One of the major “problems” with putting a helipad on the aft end of a ship is that the ship necessarily loses the ability/facility to put anything onto the aft deck space. Since ships today are essentially no longer designed for “crossing the T” style gunboat formations in mind, this isn’t such a big problem … but it does limit the placement, and firing arcs of any anti-surface/anti-air guns which might be mounted aboard ship. In modern shipbuilding, this basically amounts to a single gun on the forward deck … and that’s it.

    So let’s take a really good look at LCS-2 and the *basic* layout of its hullform, as opposed to the actual specifics of it as a frozen form, for a moment.

    The first thing that I’m looking at here is that it *looks like* there are actual pieces of walkable flat deck which extend forward from the aft flight deck along the port and starboard sides of the ship. Now, because the hull shape is canted inwards towards the top of the mast (see: tumblehome), this space is actually far less than it could be, but it is still there. Which makes me wonder … (in pure blue sky/prints fashion).

    What if … port and starboard, amidships, there were turret guns at deck level. Specifically … and I know this sounds crazy … a 5″/62 caliber Mark 45 Mod 4 turret gun (range: … on each side. That’s right … I’m talking port and starboard amidships cannons, rather than forward and aft deck centerline cannons … on a trimaran hull … meaning that the guns would be put in the best possible placement to contain/counter any roll forces caused by the action/reaction of firing the gun(s), where “width of ship” is a major factor in how large of a gun you can mount (along with building the hull to withstand the stresses of firing said gun(s)).

    And yes … this sounds beyond crazy … because “waist mounted” turret guns went out of style early on in the dreadnaught days, because you wound up paying twice the weight (in cannons) yet could only make use of one of the two guns when “crossing the T” in gun battles (the primary tactical purpose of battleships in those days). In the first half of the 20th century, it was all about the broadside with your guns. Well, the days of *needing* to broadside (all!) your guns (in crossing the T fashion) on the open sea are pretty much gone. Even for NGFS for ship-to-shore bombardments, it isn’t really all about how many guns you can bring to bear simultaneously onto a *single* target anymore, thanks to precision munitions with a very small CEP (circular error probable). Instead, what’s more important is how long you can sustain a bombardment of firing your gun(s) in support of allied forces either ashore … or moving ashore.

    As crazy as it sounds … I really have to wonder if a trimaran with …

    * Two single turret 5″/62 caliber Mark 45 Mod 4 guns (and associated fire control and sensor suite) mounted *amidships* port and starboard at deck level above the outrigger hulls with 600 rounds each
    * A large aft helicopter pad and sheltered hangar space for maintenance, refueling and rearming of an embarked helicopter
    * Facilities for launching, supporting and sustaining two small boats and their crews for VBSS and Riverine OPS
    * VLS missile cells (mixed purpose missile types) in the forward deck/hull
    * Max design speed in the 25-35 knot range

    … I’m wondering if that wouldn’t make for a sound foundation for both a Littoral Combat Ship, meant to go into harm’s way in wartime, and a pirate/narcotics buster type frigate for use in peacetime. Build a separate dedicated minesweeper/mine layer/ASW ship oriented around optimizing underwater warfare, pair the two together on deployments, and call it a day.

    It would require a TOTAL redesign of the LCS-2 in order to achieve … but at this point, would that really be a bad thing?

  19. Heretic permalink
    July 8, 2010 9:24 am

    re: Bill

    Please be so kind as to share what information you can about the International Skjold at your earliest opportunity.

  20. west_rhino permalink
    July 8, 2010 9:02 am

    If speed is a necessity, despite the radar signature of the rooster tail kicked up (which does offer utility in masking and decoying) why noy an erkanoplane design?

  21. Hudson permalink
    July 8, 2010 8:32 am

    Scott B. said:

    “Hudson said : “For exposed surface positions, the 57mm gun (also CIWS) can chew up those.”

    The 57mm Bofors cannot be considered like a CIWS, one reason being that both LCS-1 and LCS-2 lack the appropriate Fire Control Radar to use this gun as a CIWS.”

    In terms of the amount of lethal tungsten pellets its shells spew out–many thousands in a single burst–it could be considered a defense against missiles, as well as planes and helos. However, without fire control radar, obviously not. You’d think you’d get one free for the price of the ship.

  22. Bill permalink
    July 8, 2010 6:52 am

    @ Bill : any update on the International Variant of Skjold discussed back in February ?

    Answer: Project group has nearly completed at least one major variant…and team are all on vacation now (it IS Scandinavia we’re talking about..) Should be rolling out details in early September.

  23. Mike Burleson permalink*
    July 8, 2010 4:16 am

    Al L. wrote “Can the 3 separate operational mode scheme (SUW, ASW, MIW) This ship should operate across a continuum. ”

    Thats a good one! Should have been one of my top 5. Well done.

  24. RW2 permalink
    July 8, 2010 2:03 am

    If you want to save this program than its simple. STOP calling it LCS and just call it a FRIGATE. Dump the moduals add a 2o cell VLS, up the caliber of the gun to 75mm, add about 100 crew. Call it a day.

  25. Al L. permalink
    July 8, 2010 1:11 am

    My 5 quick fixes:

    1.Can 1 turbine engine, go with a 3 jet set up. 2 diesel,1 turbine. Save space, weight & $.

    2. Can the Mk 46 30mm. It eats excessive space and weight and reduces flexibility. Use the MK38 mod2. Plan for the 30mm upgrade to the Mk 38 mod2. Mount it on deck space, plan for up to 4 on each vessel. Save
    space weight & $.
    Link:http://www.baesystems.com/ProductsServices/mk38_mod2_stabilized_minor_gun.html

    3. Develop an ESSM module for the NLOS space. Base it on the Mk-48 mod2 VLS if weight allows, if not then use the mod0.
    Link: http://www.raytheon.com/businesses/stellent/groups/public/documents/legacy_site/cms01_048612.pdf

    4. LET THE NAVY TAKE OVER NLOS! The Army did a requirements screw up with this system. They shot for Mars and landed on their butts. It’s a whole lot easier to get an infrared seeker to pick a target boat out on the sea than a vehicle out on land. Not to mention the Army’s employment scheme for the NLOS was a nightmare. Go to this link, look at page 8, see if you believe this would work in combat: http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2007psa_apr/Bush.pdf

    The Navy does missiles well. If they get it to work stick an NLOS module in one or 2 of the former MK 46 holes.

    5. Can the 3 separate operational mode scheme (SUW, ASW, MIW) This ship should operate across a continuum.

    Is it more sensible for the ship to carry a load to defeat mines from the deep ocean onto the beach or for the ship to carry a load to defeat combined near shore threats?

  26. Joe permalink
    July 7, 2010 10:56 pm

    5 quick fixes for the LCS?

    I’ve just one – axe it. And, if you decide that you truly need a littoral COMBAT ship, do your very best to go shopping from a list that includes Absalon, Skjold, and perhaps Hamina, depending on your charge card limit and specs you want satisfied.

    As it stands the taxpayers of China are footing the bill for an impotent farce of a boat that’s so outclassed it would probably run from a flock of seagulls.

  27. Scott B. permalink
    July 7, 2010 9:15 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “Then, place some surplus Army guns, like the venerable 105mm, 30mm, 40mm, Gatling guns, mortars, whatever is on hand, bolted on deck.”

    Some minor comments, in no specific order :

    1) Guns AND their ammunitions developped for land usage don’t necessarily easily lend themselves to navalization. Corrosion issues and HERO (Hazards of Electromagnetic Radiation to Ordnance) are some of the problems that come to mind, but there are quite a few others that could be mentioned.

    2) The link given for the venerable 30mm supposed to come from Army surplus, points to the Bushmaster II, which has never been used by the US Army. That gun is, however, already included in the existing Mk-50 Gun Mission Module, two of which are part of the LCS SUW Mission Package.

    3) The link given for the venerable 40mm supposed to come from Army surplus, points to the Bofors 40mm L/70, which has only been in US Army service for a very short period of time with the infamous M247 Sergeant York. There is most certainly ZERO army surplus for this specific gun.

    4) Bolting stuff on deck may sound easy on paper, but is not necessarily such a piece of cake in the real life. Leaving aside such niceties as finding an appropriate spot with decent firing arcs and safe ammo storage, unstabilized mounts may prove next to useless whenever operating under not-so-user-friendly sea states. That’s where the distinction between riverine and maritime starts to matter.

    5) Which leads us directly to the very last comment : my impression from this heteroclite list of weapons that should be bolted onto the LCS seaframe *to get at least some money back from the taxpayer’s investment* leads me to believe that what Mike B. is trying to do here is to turn LCS into this (look at the specs here).

    Which, if confirmed, would beg the following question : WHY ?

    Because, as Hokie_1997 pointed out earlier, there’s don’t seem to be much of a need for more guns to fight pirates of Somalia, which is the justification offered by Mike B. with his *Then send her to Somalia!*.

  28. Scott B. permalink
    July 7, 2010 8:05 pm

    While on the subject of *more-capable* UAVs, I thought some people here might find this not-so-fresh tidbit from Navy Times interesting :

    ***********************************************************
    Unmanned helos

    A larger unmanned helicopter may be significantly closer to reality. The Navy on April 30 issued a request for information about a possible unmanned helicopter ready for operations as early as 2016. It’s referred to as a “persistent ship-based unmanned aircraft system.”

    The April 30 request seeks a much larger aircraft than the MQ-8 Fire Scout, an unmanned helo built by Northrop Grumman. The Fire Scout, which just finished a test deployment aboard the frigate McInerney, is less than 24 feet long.

    The request calls for an aircraft closer to the size of a traditional, manned helicopter. It should be able to operate from cruisers, destroyers or amphibs. It should have a payload of 1,000 pounds, a combat radius far wider than Fire Scout’s and be able to use satellite communications rather than line-of-site control systems, according to Navy documents

    Options on display at the expo included an aircraft from Northrop Grumman, the Fire-X, which would use essentially the same control mechanisms as the Fire Scout. Another potential offering was the Boeing YMQ-18A Hummingbird.

    ***********************************************************

  29. Scott B. permalink
    July 7, 2010 7:42 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “I still think a catapult and recapture system is a better way to get the more-capable land-based UAVs to sea”

    *More capable* is too much of an absolute judgement to be used so casually and capabilities is all a matter of perspectives / requirements.

    E.g. Scan Eagle might offer a better endurance than Fire Scout, but, unlike Fire Scout, it will NEVER be able to carry a radar like this one : Telephonics RDR-1700B

    As for net recapture being a *better way* to recover UAVs at sea, I would simply remind you that recovering an armed UAV that way is asking for troubles. So then again, *better way* is a matter of perspectives / requirements.

    One might argue that, instead of inferring some absolute superiority of one approach over the other as Mike B. does, it might be wise to have both tools in the kit, just to be able to pick up the most appropriate one under fluctuating circumstances.

    Maybe. I simply observe that most navies (US, UK, France, Germany, Sweden,…) seem to have a preference for VTUAVs when it comes to using them on corvettes / frigates / destroyers. Go figure…

  30. Scott B. permalink
    July 7, 2010 7:17 pm

    @ Bill : any update on the International Variant of Skjold discussed back in February ?

  31. Scott B. permalink
    July 7, 2010 6:51 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “Instead of placing a further burden on our over-worked destroyers, the new ship could act as a mothership in benign waters for small craft, such as Stiletto or riverine boats like the CB90, for Special Forces and Marines.”

    Arghhh…, the Stiletto plastic toy is back !!!

    Anyway, I still have this eternal problem with the Naval Newspeak Buzzword Mothership, and I would very much welcome further clarification on what LCS acting as a *mothership* for riverine boats or plastic toys might imply.

    One thing I already know though is that none of the LCS designs would make a suitable tender for a riverine and/or PT boat force.

  32. Scott B. permalink
    July 7, 2010 6:44 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “Fast Transport-With this done, reducing the cost of future vessels, various roles might be envisaged, such as an APD or fast transport.”

    Given how tight a fit it proved to shoe-horn a mere 20-man VBSS team into LCS-1 for her *maiden deployment*, I find this entire mini-gator thingy extremely hard to swallow, no matter how popular it may have been at some point in Galrahnistan !!!

  33. Scott B. permalink
    July 7, 2010 6:12 pm

    Hudson said : “For exposed surface positions, the 57mm gun (also CIWS) can chew up those.”

    The 57mm Bofors cannot be considered like a CIWS, one reason being that both LCS-1 and LCS-2 lack the appropriate Fire Control Radar to use this gun as a CIWS.

  34. Chuck Hill permalink
    July 7, 2010 2:25 pm

    There is another smaller, cheaper American combatant that should be contracted for in the next couple of years. This is the Coast Guard Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC). This projected class of 25 is intended OPC to replace the in service MECs (Medium Endurance Cutters), currently composed of:
    -13 Famous Class, 270-foot (82.3 m), built in 1980’s
    -16 Reliance Class, 210-foot (64 m), built in 1960’s
    – 2 single vessels built in 1944 and 1968

    What I find hard to believe is that the first ship is not expected to come on line until 2019. By then the oldest of the 210s will be 55 years old, not to mention the MEC built in 1944.

    The status of the project is outlined here: http://www.uscg.mil/acquisition/newsroom/updates/opc_plan070710.asp

    The following is quoted from Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) Project
    CG-9322 | CAPT Brad Fabling | FEB2010 “Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC)
    Brief to ASNE”:

    “Notional High-level Mission Requirements
    Aviation –operate with CG/USN H-60, CG H-65 and UAVs
    Small Boats –Utilized multiple small boats for rescue and law enforcement operations
    Towing –up to equivalent tonnage
    Rescue –bring multiple individuals aboard directly from the water
    –bring individuals aboard that are injured or unable to move on their own.
    Sea Keeping –Full operationally through SS5 (i.e. Aviation and Small Boat)
    –Limited operations through SS7 and survive through SS8
    Maneuverability –at slower speeds and in smaller ports
    Endurance – 8500 NM/9500 NM at 14KTS sustained
    — 14 days between refueling & FAS capable
    Speed –25 KTS/22 KTS
    DAFHP / Service Life for 30 years –capable of 185 days (230 days surge)/40 years to fatigue
    Accommodations –104/90 racks & support mix gender crews w/6 persons/space or less
    Combat System –limited air defense, full surface combat, & anti-terrorism ready
    **Classed to ABS NVR”

    “In terms of engineering robustness, the needs of the modern USCG Cutter can be
    considered similar to a small navy combatant, but for different reasons:
    “Plus” aspects –increased range, seakeeping for Boat and Aviation operations, fatigue life (40 year), crewing numbers
    “Minus” aspect –no need for shock, air defense, operations in Chemical, Biological, &
    Radiation (CBR) environment”

  35. July 7, 2010 2:24 pm

    That’s what I was thinking too. I remember reading an article in Popular Mechanics and dreaming about being on one. Funny now that I’ve had two cruisers but no destroyers. Anyway, thanks for the help.

  36. sid permalink
    July 7, 2010 2:04 pm

    I was still in high school when the DDG51s started coming off the line, so I have to rely on you gentlemen on this one, but was there this much doubt and speculation when that class started out?

    No.

    As a matter of fact it was broadly seen as a step forward in surface ship effectiveness with its steel superstructure, “citadel design”, better seakeeping (although there was some lament about it being short and wide), etc…

  37. Hudson permalink
    July 7, 2010 1:45 pm

    Assuming that LCS will go forward to maybe 12 units before the Navy or Congress axes it, I wouldn’t put another dime into NLOS or something like it–the missiles are far too expensive.

    For exposed surface positions, the 57mm gun (also CIWS) can chew up those. For anything dug in like Tarawa, you would need fixed-wing bombs or cruise missiles, again very expensive, or 5″ shells from Burkes, or Hellfire from the helos or Fire Scout.

    I’d equip it for mine warfare and ASW, standard–and rely on the gun and missiles for anti-ship: RAM with HAS upgrade, and whatever the helos and Fire Scout can carry (Hellfire, Penguin, Sea Skua, etc.). And leave it at that.

  38. July 7, 2010 1:16 pm

    I was still in high school when the DDG51s started coming off the line, so I have to rely on you gentlemen on this one, but was there this much doubt and speculation when that class started out? In my mind, the amount of concern alone is enough to warrant reconsideration of the class.

  39. sid permalink
    July 7, 2010 1:15 pm

    but as a small aviation platform I think she’s got a great deal of potential.

    Pending riding characteristics…..

  40. Moose permalink
    July 7, 2010 1:10 pm

    Why SINKEX at our expense when you could sell them at discount to someone else?

    I’d buy a few LCS–2s with moderate fixes. She may be a (very) poor frigate/corvette by many standards, but as a small aviation platform I think she’s got a great deal of potential. Build ‘em at Bath, make sure they always have as many birds as we can fit on ‘em, and see what they can do.

  41. Scott B. permalink
    July 7, 2010 12:47 pm

    Sid said : “Tell me again why this ship just had to go 50 knots in the first place?”

    Minor quibble : early in the program, the LockMart design was said to be able to reach almost 60 knots.

    See for instance this May 2004 article in Sea Power : (bold emphasis added)

    “The Lockheed Martin design predicts a draft of just over 12 feet, which will give the ship more flexibility in where it can operate and the number of ports it can enter. The ship is designed to reach almost 60 knots; accelerate from O to 46 knots in less than two minutes; stop from 30 knots in 2.5 lengths; and turn 180 degrees in seven hull lengths at full speed and in three lengths at 30 knots.”

  42. Juramentado permalink
    July 7, 2010 12:29 pm

    FIX # 1 – is already in bidding/FBO: they need fill the hole in the MR SSM bay that would have been occupied by NLOS. This is a good opportunity to select a major fires system that gives back both anti-ship and AAW capability that the LCS was sorely lacking.

    Let’s face it, the latest CONOPS contradicted itself in spades. Assuming NLOS was actually integrated, you had a vessel that needed to conduct ISR and yet required the coverage of a Tico or Burke to protect itself from a full-spectrum threat profile near hostile coastlines. Say again???? With the proliferation of coastal SSM batteries or anything larger than a gun-equipped helo, LCS would easily be damaged or sunk since PAM had no anti-air capability of it’s own beyond point defenses. And how does one scout with a big-$@* Burke less than 60 nm behind it? Madness.

    Fix the NLOS hole and think hard about the CONOPS. Does land-bombardment with the cancelled PAM still make sense with NOC 2010?

    FIX # 2 – but not neccessarily cheap – think hard about where those Mission Package Support Facilities need to be so that LCS can in fact do something other than CIT in the Carrib or show off the flag in RIMPAC (or make like a Klingon Warbird in the Keys for that matter).

    FIX # 3 – for Goodness’ sake – will someone please look at the engineering for the Mission Module support equipment? When GD can’t even figure out how to standardize the equipment to load, pull, diagnose and repair the modules, then how in heck are we ever going to deploy them in any reasonable volume?

    FIX # 4 – Go back to the drawing board and find out how to minimize the man-in-the-middle for the majority of the remote systems. When you need someone flesh-bound to confirm detection and classification of contacts, there’s something wrong about calling it an autonomous system. Also – work on launch and return procedures and someone needs to think up a way to underway-replenish those remote assets.

  43. west_rhino permalink
    July 7, 2010 12:27 pm

    Bill, “no such design change possible without scrapping the entire ship hull design and starting over” I suspect substansiates a webmaster’s ideas for the whole project.

  44. Hokie_1997 permalink
    July 7, 2010 12:23 pm

    Sid wrote:

    No tellin’ what those sponsons do up next to those stern doors at anything above steerageway speeds…

    Tell me again why this ship just had to go 50 knots in the first place

    *****

    My theory — a SWO admiral thought 50 kts would be sexy, and managed to coax agreement from some higher ups in SECNAV.

  45. sid permalink
    July 7, 2010 12:02 pm

    “One way to prepare her for service in shallow seas would be the addition of armor, not the expensive Kevlar type but with sheet metal placed on in layers, as much as she could manage”

    Yet another quote with so many flaws that I cannot begin to count those either : topweight, firing arcs, structural stress, ammos storage / handling,…

    There is a reason why this pig is getting too slow for its own good already Mike (you can see it if you look close)…

    And its a whole lot more expensive than sheet metal (they had to be transformational don’t yah know)…with many of the attendant problems Scott speaks of.

    NVR is a flop because it was added to late to shoved in where there are no margins for it in the design.

    To be sucessful, Vulnerability Reduction attributes MUST BE INCOPORATED INTO THE DESIGN AT THE EARLIEST PHASES!!!!

  46. sid permalink
    July 7, 2010 11:40 am

    No tellin’ what those sponsons do up next to those stern doors at anything above steerageway speeds…

    Tell me again why this ship just had to go 50 knots in the first place?

  47. sid permalink
    July 7, 2010 11:36 am

    LCS-1 has received one post-launch makeover: the two 30mm mounts on the aft deck straddling SeaRam. It looks like one of them is visible in the above photo, meaning it is fairly recent./i

    Don’t forget about her stitched on butt cheeks

  48. Distiller permalink
    July 7, 2010 11:23 am

    Yip. Scrap LCS-1 for sure.
    But keep LCS-2 as test article for the multihull design.
    And the lean crew concept …
    And the superconductive e-motors …
    And new electronics …
    And the whole UxV at sea thing …
    There’d be enough RD&T and evaluation jobs for two or three hulls!
    It’s been a long time since the Navy had a life-sized testbed that can be integrated with operational task units.

  49. July 7, 2010 11:15 am

    I’m currently serving in the Navy and the more I see of these things the more I like what I’m already on (cruiser). I’m not a big-navy fan or anything. In fact, I used to be excited about these ships, until I realized they had no bark or bite. SINKEX has my vote! Build more destroyers.

    Besides, what enemy is out there that is causing this threat? I’m all for building to the future enemy, but what enemy are we talking about? The enemy ashore is so far ashore that a destroyer 50 miles off the coast has as much a chance of hitting him as does a LCS 2 miles off the shore.

    I’m not a strategist (wish I were!), but this class was a mistake. Eat the cost, stop funding the program, and stop building these ships.

  50. Hudson permalink
    July 7, 2010 11:04 am

    I stand corrected.

  51. Scott B. permalink
    July 7, 2010 10:42 am

    Once again, Bill speaks with Big Medicine here.

    All those trying to make it sound like some quick fixes might save LCS from the inevitable disaster should listen carefully to what he said.

  52. Scott B. permalink
    July 7, 2010 10:38 am

    Hudson said : “LCS-1 has received one post-launch makeover: the two 30mm mounts on the aft deck straddling SeaRam. It looks like one of them is visible in the above photo, meaning it is fairly recent.”

    1) LCS-1 doesn’t use SeaRAM (LCS-2 does). LCS-1 uses the vanilla Mk-49 launcher with 21 missiles.

    2) There’s NO 30mm mount (aka Mk-50 Gun Module) in the above photo. You can see what these mounts look like in the photo below :

  53. Bill permalink
    July 7, 2010 10:23 am

    Scott said: “you scrap the damn thing entirely and move on to something else.”

    Exactly. You do not ‘re-design’ an HPMV to go slower..and if you were even stupid enough to try it, thre are virtually no cost savings worth getting excited about.

    There are so many well-proven and excellent hull designs to chose from out there that perform in the 25-35 knot range…why on earth would anyone ever try to re-design ones specifically intended to do nearly 50 knots?

    yes..50..NOT 40. Its amazing how the 50s so very quietly slipped away and became 40s, when talking about the LCS program and maximum speed. It was never supposed to be so. Both designs were originally to achieve 50+ so that the mid-40 range was acheivable with rational margins for seas, fouling etc..just like ALL HPMV designs. Skjold goes 64 knots to assure adequate margine to achieve staff requirement ..said requirement being steady 45 knots in SS3.

    But I keep belaboring how the HPMV design process works in the rest of the world and with successful outcomes…which has nothing to do with USN practice in that arena. I need to let it go…

  54. Hudson permalink
    July 7, 2010 10:04 am

    LCS-1 has received one post-launch makeover: the two 30mm mounts on the aft deck straddling SeaRam. It looks like one of them is visible in the above photo, meaning it is fairly recent.

  55. Scott B. permalink
    July 7, 2010 9:40 am

    sid said : “If you get rid of the speed in either LCS design”

    Even if you manage to get rid of the speed (see Bill’s EXCELLENT opening post on the subject), you WON’T get rid of the cost anyway.

    People, and the reformers in particular, have to understand that there are NO such things as quick fixes for this program : either you’re happy with this $600+ million (excluding mission packages) Überspeedboat or you scrap the damn thing entirely and move on to something else.

  56. Heretic permalink
    July 7, 2010 9:36 am

    USS Freedom littoral combat ship. Can she be saved?

    No.
    Nor should she be.

    LCS-1 is a Lockmart Crap Shoot at building a ship. Too blue for green … and too green for blue. It’s a glorified undermanned speedboat built for peacetime, which is not what the service needs.

  57. Jed permalink
    July 7, 2010 9:17 am

    1 quick fix for LCS – scrap the program !

  58. Hokie_1997 permalink
    July 7, 2010 8:56 am

    RE: Battery Ship

    ****

    Ignoring the engineering and structural issues of this proposition — why exactly would LCS need more guns for the counter-piracy mission?

    As pitifully underarmed as LCS is, I believe she’s more than a match for a bunch of criminals AK-47s and RPGs.

    The only potential for salvation of the LCS concept is to scrap the current incarnations and start anew.

    Except this time do it right:
    1. Conduct analysis to figure out the requirements before you actually start the design.
    2. Once the requirements have been identified, don’t allow any last minute changes or additions.
    3. Open up competition to multiple sources, including existing designs & foreign shipbuilders.
    4. Hire an outside agency to provide a no-sh*t cost estimate, since the Navy has proven they are incapable of doing so.
    5. Monitor the design process like a hawk, including the costs. Penalize the designer if costs exceed intial estimate by x%

  59. sid permalink
    July 7, 2010 8:28 am

    And that battery ship idea….

    A known unsurvivable hull?

    YGTBSM!

  60. sid permalink
    July 7, 2010 8:26 am

    If you get rid of the speed in either LCS design, then either hull is about as useful as the third and fourth mammaries on a boar hawg….

    Unless you can get th semi-planing hull of the LCS-1 on a step, it is grossly inefficient, and a quite lousy seakeeper.

    And a remarkably expensive aluminum trimaran makes no sense whatsoever.

    Echoing Jackie Fisher…

    SCRAP THE LOT!!!!

  61. Scott B. permalink
    July 7, 2010 8:25 am

    Mike Burleson said : “One way to prepare her for service in shallow seas would be the addition of armor, not the expensive Kevlar type but with sheet metal placed on in layers, as much as she could manage. Then, place some surplus Army guns, like the venerable 105mm, 30mm, 40mm, Gatling guns, mortars, whatever is on hand, bolted on deck. Then send her to Somalia!”

    Yet another quote with so many flaws that I cannot begin to count those either : topweight, firing arcs, structural stress, ammos storage / handling,…

  62. Hokie_1997 permalink
    July 7, 2010 8:20 am

    Whole-heartedly agree with SINKEX. The money we’ve spent thus far on LCS are ‘sunk costs’ — no need to keep throwing more money at what everyone knows is a bad idea.

    And someone needs to be held accountable for the debacle that is LCS. No analysis, bypassing of the normal requirements process, and no real CONOPS as to how the fleet is going to use it.

    If I were a congressman I would be calling on flag officers who were involved (both active duty and retired) to explain exactly how we got to where we are with LCS.

  63. Scott B. permalink
    July 7, 2010 8:08 am

    Campbell said : “SINKEX”

    +1.

    And then start to THINK BIG, not small, otherwise history will, once again, repeat itself.

  64. July 7, 2010 8:03 am

    SINKEX

  65. Bill permalink
    July 7, 2010 7:57 am

    “Some savings could be procured by replacing the powerful and gas guzzling water jets with old fashioned diesels. Speed should be about 30 knots”

    Take it from someone who has been involved in the design of more waterjet-propelled vessels than I coulod posivble ever count: That quote has so many flaws in it that I cannot begin to count those either. In the simplest of terms, such a propulsion change (ignoring the gross error in the quote associating the propulsors (jets) with prime movers(diesels, GTs or both), in the case of LCS-1, there is no such design change possible without scrapping the entire ship hull design and starting over. LCS-2?..no problem to get rid of the GTs in favor of more and/or larger diesels…but the waterjets would stay regardless.

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