Navy-Sea Fighter Not Ready for Combat
After basely a year of operation, the Sea Fighter suffered a mishap on Sept. 6, 2006, when it ran into some large sea swells off San Diego. At more than 30 knots, the ship suffered a structural failure, causing “significant damage,” according to Congress.
“The ship was operating out of its de-signed operational envelope,” Kelly explained. Sea Fighter, he said, wasn’t meant to operate at high speeds in seas higher than 12 feet.
“Anything above that and things get difficult for us,” he said. “They got into a really high-speed state, over 30 knots. There were a couple of rogue waves.”
Towed back to San Diego, the Sea Fighter was to be fixed with money specially appropriated by Congress — and at the insistence of then-Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., who represented San Diego and chaired the House Armed Services Committee — to get a combat capability never intended by its designers.
The congressional provision in the 2007 defense authorization bill’s conference report called for the Navy to “add weapons (offensive and defensive)” to the Sea Fighter.
The weapons capability would also mean the ship would have to operate as a commissioned, Navy-manned ship, as civilian-operated ships owned by the government do not have combatant capabilities.
But the Sea Fighter simply didn’t make a very good warship, Kelly explained. “It’s a very lightweight ship. It’s a catamaran, not designed as a fully operational, all-weather platform. It is a test platform to prove technology,” he said. “The ship was never de-signed to be an operationally deployable vessel.”
Actually we could see the Sea Fighter even without heavy weapons operating as a mothership, with UAVs and robot craft. Still, they can increase costs on LCS two and three times over its initial estimate, but balk at $26 million for a more affordable vessel? As we once said, the Navy has no love for small ships, neither do they understand them.
From the article, we learn these present and future plans:
- FSF has been relegated to a test platform, not a warship, and manned by a civilian/scientist crew.
- The ship has “better command-and-control facilities, improved aviation capabilities and improved stability”.
- She will be sent to Panama City Florida with the 4th Fleet, to Southern Command where in the past other small ship programs have been exiled to die.
*Note (I couldn’t find the link for this article on Defense News. The text is via the Navy Clips Newsletter. If anyone has a link, it would be much appreciated).