LCS Alternative Weekly
From Streetfighter to LCS
At what point did the Streetfighter, a 1000 ton corvette proposed by 2 naval greats Admiral Arthur Cebrowski and Capt. Wayne Hughes, morph into the over-weight, over-priced, under-armed littoral combat ship (LCS)? From reading this 2001 proposal for the unique craft more suited for COIN at sea than giant warships, it may have been the way the vessel was sold to the public:
The U.S. is at war with China, and U.S. Navy commanders are using a new breed of ship called Streetfighter to sail perilously close to the Chinese coast.
There, the small, fast, inexpensive warships — designed to go into harm’s way and, if necessary, be lost — hunt down Chinese subs and missile launchers hidden among fishing boats and cargo ships. Some Streetfighters are sunk by enemy fire, and casualties are high, but they help the U.S. win earlier than the military pros had projected…
Their performance in that mock battle was enough to convince the war college’s director, Vice Adm. Arthur K. Cebrowski, that a fleet of Streetfighters could give any foe fits — provided the Navy is willing to endure casualties.
His ships, derided by critics as “throwaway boats,” have forced the Navy and the Pentagon to confront the question of whether the military has become too fearful of casualties, and whether a
hesitancy to put troops at risk is making the world’s most formidable fighting force vulnerable…
That hardly means Streetfighters are a sure thing. Some top Navy commanders have grave doubts. “I look at the Streetfighter concept and worry that we are saying, ‘It’s OK to lose ships,’ ” says Vice Adm. Michael Mullen, commander of the U.S. 2nd Fleet in Norfolk, Va.
That was some 8 years ago, and you see who is our top man at the Pentagon? That’s right, JCS Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, and such views as his is that only very large, exquisite vessels can survive modern war at sea. However, as we often point out, this fails to take into account the countless tales of small ships surviving great battle damage and returning to the fight. A recent post we did on the Battle of Okinawa, where warships of 2000 tons or less received the bulk of the casualties, tells us a different story:
The USN lost 34 small ships with 300 damaged. Of these 26 were sunk and 164 damaged by kamikazes. Thanks to the tiny but essential picket ships, no US carriers, battleships, cruisers, or large troop transports were lost, though Enterprise, Franklin, and Maryland were out of the war.
We see then only 10% of the small boys were lost to enemy action. All the more amazing was the replacements readily available, since with smaller ships of lower costs, many more can be purchased than large ships. We noted this from the same post in a book exert by Hanson Baldwin:
But the traffic across the Pacific is two-way.The cripples steam home; replacements of flesh and steel move steadily westward; destroyer divisions from the Central Pacific, the North Pacific, the Atlantic are ordered to Okinawa to take up their stations in the battered picket line.
Unlike the apparent central theme of the WSJ article, I don’t see the more affordable, more relevant for low tech warfare Streetfighter as “a ship meant to die”. Of course, all warships are vulnerable to an extent, but how can we expect Congress and the public to buy something considered a “forlorn hope”? In fact, it was a vessel for ensuring others would live, the large carriers, cruisers, destroyers, and amphibious ships which we put to great risk operating close to shore in the Missile Age. and it could only perform this mission by surviving itself as much as reasonably possible.
India expands its Coast Guard
This information of a major increase in India shallow water abilities is from Combat Fleet of the World. The expansion includes:
3,000 new Coast Guard personnel
20 fast patrol vessels.
41 interceptor boats.
12 Dornier coastal surveillance aircraft
7 off-shore patrol vessels
A chain of 46 new coastal radars
9 new Coast Guard stations
We see this news of far greater significance than India’s ongoing trouble trying to replace its aging aircraft carrier arm. While carrier wars have been few and far between, most recently in the Mumbai attacks we saw how a handful of terrorists operating from the sea could affect one of the world’s great powers, with force in great disproportion than supercarriers or nuclear warships.
The Original LCS
Also known as Standard Flex 300 (SF300), the Flyvefisken Class is based on a modular concept – using a standard hull with containerized weapon systems and equipment, which allows the vessel to change role quickly for surveillance, surface combat, anti-submarine warfare (ASW), mine countermeasures / minehunter, minelayer or pollution control.
Standard equipment for all roles includes the command system, radars and hull-mounted sonars.
Also note it’s armament within the respective modules:
SSM-8 x Harpoon missiles (combat role)SAM-Mk 48 mod 3 vertical launcher for six SeaSparrow missiles (combat / minelayer / MCM role)Gun-1 x 76mm Oto Melara Super RapidTorpedoes-2 x 533mm tubes for TP613 torpedoes (combat role), anti-submarine torpedoes (ASW role)Mines– 60 (minelaying role)
Interestingly, at a little over 10% the American vessel’s weight, it carries a much heavier weapon’s load. Sigh.
Germany May Transfer Corvettes to Israel
While Israel balked at the exorbitant cost of updating the LCS to their own high standards, they are definitely interested in 2 German MEKO corvettes currently in the eastern Mediterranean. As promised last week, here is an update from the UPI:
German daily Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung reported Saturday that the Israelis had requested two MEKO-class corvettes, which are built at the Blohm und Voss shipyard in the northern port city of Hamburg that is owned by the industrial giant ThyssenKrupp.
As far as is known, Berlin has not yet responded to the Israeli request. But the Hannover daily reported that “influential politicians in northern Germany” were secretly supporting the deal on the premise that it would help German shipyards get through the global economic crisis.
That is really amazing that the Israelis’ once most vehement foe would be responsible for that tiny nation to deploy its most powerful surface warships yet. A much better deal than they would have gotten from Lockheed:
The 2,200-ton, 275-foot MEKO has a helicopter deck and carries formidable firepower, 16 launchers for land-attack missiles and eight for anti-ship missiles as well as missile defenses and automatic rapid-fire guns.
It carries a crew of 94 and has a range of 4,600 miles with a maximum speed of 30 knots.
According to media reports, the Israeli Defense Ministry had originally considered a corvette built by Lockheed Martin but rejected the $600 million price tag as too expensive.
We’ll keep you posted on these intriguing naval developments.