War and Revolution at Sea
The US Navy is in the midst of historic change, according to Strategypage, but is facing an uphill battle trying to convinnce Congress of this. The need for more ships is evisent, but no one seems to agree on what type os ships. Congress is interested in high price battleships of the Cold War era which keep shipyards open and constituents happy. The Navy still wants the older type ships, but less of them because of their great expense. What the fleet does want and in large numbers is the new littoral combat ship (LCS).
The LCS (Littoral Combat Ship) is seen as the model for the 21st century navy. While the aircraft carrier will remain the “capital ship,” the next generation of them (the CVN 21 class) will be very different from current carriers. The navy wants to spend more money, and effort, on increasing the capabilities of sailors, using more robotics and making the navy more mobile and in touch. Admirals recognize that, unlike in the past, there is no one enemy fleet you go after. The future threats will be all over the place, and you have to be able to get to them quickly, and with the kind of forces that will take care of the problem before it gets any worse. The navy is looking at doing more with mobility, in the same sense that the army has long studied that issue.
This means a very new type of navy, one that it is having a hard time selling to Congress, and the many influential supporters of the traditional, “high seas,” navy. The politicians have come to rely on those very expensive contracts for building large warships. But the navy is pulling back from that, and getting some political heat as a result. It’s tough to sell the politicians on a lot of untried ideas. But it’s a new century, with new technology. If the U.S. Navy doesn’t figure out what to do with all this, someone else may.
The good news is: As it often does, war is forcing change, as well as the spiraling cost of traditional weapon systems. The navy may purchase as many as 100 LCS, which is just the vessels to intercept terrorists on the high seas and in the coastal regions.