LCS Alternative Weekly
Bon Voyage, USS Freedom
As mentioned this morning the LCS-1 USS Freedom heads for its maiden voyage down South from Mayport. Of course we wish the crew well. Here is Phil Ewing with the story:
The littoral combat ship Freedom nosed away from the quay wall here Tuesday to begin a deployment that will take it on patrols for smugglers in the Caribbean and then, at last, to its homeport of San Diego…
Navy commanders were eager to point out that the Freedom’s ability to take missions earlier than the fleet had initially planned showed the maturity of the LCS concept and the professionalism of the ship’s Gold and Blue crews. The Navy’s first notion was for the Freedom to relocate to San Diego and not do a fleet-style deployment for months afterward, but Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead last summer asked the fleet to see about sending the ship out early to demonstrate what it could do.
I have no doubt at least a few smugglers will come within range of the Freedom’s helo’s or guns, since the Carib is teaming with them as the USCG is so stretched thin. The question comes to mind, is this the proper use of the supposedly transformative vessel’s much touted ability? Our friend ScottB provides us with his thoughts:
1) Pointing out that LCS-1 will deploy earlier than the fleet had initially planned is all fine and dandy, but what does that really mean when this deployment has exactly NOTHING to do with any of the missions originally envisioned for the concept (i.e. ASUW, ASW and MCM), what does that really mean when almost nothing of the much-touted *mission-modularity* will be tested, and what does that really mean in terms of impact it will have on the impact of the mission packages (often improperly referred to as mission modules) ?
2) I clearly remember both Mullen and Roughead claiming that LCS-1 would deploy early to close *an urgent warfighting gap*. Are patrols for drug smugglers in the Caribbean such an *urgent warfighting gap* ? I mean, seriously…
Thanks Scott, and good point! Freedom’s deployment is the debut of the world’s most expensive patrol boat! Better perhaps to divert the $28 billion for the entire LCS program to the USCG who I am sure could put it to better use, since this is the primary mission of the Coasties anyway!
A Picture is Worth…
Concerning a USN photo New Wars posted recently showing USS Freedom performing high-speed maneuvers, Scott noticed a few things which yours truly missed. First, take another look at the ship at sea in high resolution. Now from the comments:
Scott-I find the amount of green water being shipped in what looks like a slight to moderate sea state (SS3 most likely, SS4 being generous) to be very worrying. But perhaps it is just me…
And concerning LCS stealth:
Scott-See that fuzzy band right above the *ship* between the exhausts and the stern ? Whatever speed she’s making, the heat signature she produces on the pic isn’t exactly stealthy…Just sayin’ ;-)
I am also curious, looking at this newer photo in high res, how much if any water is shipping into those blackened gunports exhausts embedded there in the lower hull?
LCS Scylla and Charybdis
Down-select time is coming, for the Navy to choose between the 2 LCS prototypes. Sadly, “neither” isn’t on the Navy’s list of choices. Here’s Craig Hooper:
If the Air Force’s $35 Billion dollar tanker down-select is any guide, this LCS down-select is going to be ugly.
It is a pity. With more resources, the Navy would have been busy building and evaluating two separate LCS squadrons, and the down-select years away.
The Navy wants these ships in a hurry. They realize all the problems, and cancellation is always looming, so they know time is against them.
I fear that the rapid down-select puts a lot of pressure on the deploying LCS-1 sailors to treat their platform gently. The opposite should be the case–the first model “Flight 0″ platforms must be run hard, beaten up and, quite simply, broken. Broken early and often.
Put bluntly, the Navy won’t learn much if problems are covered-up and the ship treated like a museum piece.
The Navy only builds ships for deterrence, so they aren’t worried whether these vessels are ready for service or not. Still clinging to the old Cold War stance, they imagine their impressive looking battleships won’t have to fight, or at least not in a fair fight. I think this is so much wishful thinking in a era where there are many threats, rather than the single Soviet enemy, and these new foes refuse to play by the old rules.
If they keep on shrinking toward record low fleet numbers, they will have little choice but to match enemies ship-for-ship. There is where the real tests come.
Fractured LCS Acronyms
The Bold Band of Readers have been operating overtime, wracking their brains to bring us more of these:
- Literally inComparable to Skjold
- Loses in Competition to Sea Fighter
- Laughably Compromised Specifications
- Lifesigns Confused, Spock
- Lousy Capacity Speedboat
- Let’s Copy Swift
- Larry Curley Shemp
That last was my personal favorite for the week, being a Stooge fan and all. And did you catch the one for you Trekkies? Thanks to D.E., Heretic, and “Retired Now”. Well done and post your creations anytime at the special LCS Page on the top, or just here in the comments!
Stay Away from the Deep End of the Pool!
Scoop Deck is calling them “water wings”, some strange attachments on the stern of the the LCS Freedom. Phil Ewing explains as best he can:
In a yard period late last year, Freedom acquired two large oblong metal boxes on its transom, on either side of the stern gate its crew uses to launch and recover boats. The sailors call these “buoyancy tanks,” although they look almost like a baby’s water wings for the pool…
Ewing asks the pertinent question:
Do water wings added after the fact mean the Freedom — and Lockheed Martin’s design for the LCS 1-class — suffered from too little reserve buoyancy?
But Gold Crew skipper Cmdr. Randy Garner ain’t saying! Do check out the water wings photo at the link.
LCS Alternative-Skjold class patrol boat
Here is an amazing Norwegian stealth boat that the USN and Coast Guard tested a few years back. The Skjold is another excellent Scandinavian product which offers much on a compact hull, and at a decent price. I think the Scans have discovered the best way to deploy stealth to a surface combatant, by starting small. The larger the ship above water, naturally the less stealth you get as we talked about above.
Length-155.83 ft (47.50 m)
Draft-3.3 ft (1.0 m)
Speed-60 knots max
Range-800 miles at 40 knots