LCS Pirate-Buster? Not So Fast…
The Navy has unveiled to the public its latest weapon in the war on piracy, the littoral combat ship, or LCS USS Freedom. Touted as the last word in fighting asymmetrical threats at sea, it is state of the art, speedy and very pricey. This article at Yahoo Buzz is typical of the praise being lavished on the yet-to-see-action warship:
Pirates, quiver in your skiffs. Put down your rocket launchers and run. The USS Freedom has just landed. Or launched. Whatever, just be afraid.
Sounds awesome, eh? But there are some issues yours truly would like to clear up before we decide to send this $550 million battleship into harms way, against pirates in thousand-dollar speed boats:
- Only 4 ordered so far? Considering the approximate 5 years its takes to get even a small warship in full service, this means in the middle of the next decade only a handful will be ready. Will this be enough to manage global naval threats from pirates, Iran, North Korea, China, etc?
- Can a few fairly large LCS contend with scores or even hundreds of swarming suicide boats, a tactic Iran practices on frequent occasions against our Big Ships? Just asking.
- Should the LCS be the end of our littoral strategy, or just the beginning? These days, we seem to be stuck with single-class warships that remain in production for decades. We should return to the days of experimenting with multiple classes and find the appropriate ship for future threats, rather than saying as the Navy does with LCS “there it is boys, its the best we could do”. So also consider Stiletto, Sea Fighter, Sweden’s Visby and even smaller craft for this new and essential mission at sea.
Sadly, we think the Navy has hoodwinked the public into thinking the LCS is the last word in fighting piracy. It’s a bit more complicated than that, not the least of which is having the political will to stand up to lawlessness in the coastal regions. They have further taken a design meant to be a small and low cost corvette type, once known as Streetfighter, and turned it into another overly-large, do-everything but nothing well, gold-plated frigate program. Sad that the taxpayer’s funds are so ill spent, while the problem of terrorism on the high seas remains unanswered.