LCS Alternative Weekly
LCS versus NSC
USCG Commandant Thad Allen says his new National Security Cutter is better suited for soft power operations with foreign navies than the Navy’s LCS. Here is Greg Grant at DoD Buzz:
Allen revealed a bit of the tension that exists between Navy and Coast Guard shipbuilding plans, saying the National Security Cutter is better suited to partnering with foreign navies than the Littoral Combat Ship. “[The National Security Cutter] can operate independently, it can steam 12,000 miles, operate for 60 to 90 days without replenishment, and is used to operating independent of a battle group, without the need of an oiler, which the LCS would need.”
True but what is our Coast Guard doing in foreign stations anyway?
Iranian Destroyer Watch
Now that we know the Iranian so-called destroyer is just a light frigate or corvette of 1400 tons, it is interesting the Jamaran is STILL more heavily armed than the over twice as large USS Freedom. Considering the ongoing animosity between the US and Iran, it is not unthinkable the 2 warships may actually meet some day…
Doing the LCS Burn-Out
As if our sailors didn’t have enough to do, considering low manning issues thought the fleet, especially with shrinking numbers of ships in a continuously busy Navy, here comes LCS to tighten the screws even further. From Navy Times subscribers edition, here’s a report by the ever watchful Phil Ewing:
“Hybrid sailors” take three times as many tasks as their counterparts in the regular Navy, including jobs way out of their rating. On the cold, clear morning when Freedom pulled away from its pier, sailors from its helicopter detachment helped bring in the mooring lines. Roomba floor-sweeping robots kept the passageways clean. First class petty officers ran many operations on the ship, and in some cases even had chiefs working for them…
The fast-paced, constant workload demanded of sailors who are each responsible for two or three jobs beyond their own.
“Sometimes it’s chaotic, and sometimes it’s all right,” said Gunner’s Mate 1st Class (SW) Michael Davis, with the surface warfare module. “It can get to a point where you are working all the time. You’ve got to make sure the guys don’t get burned out. You do not want to start seeing people burn out.”
Note, these are the sailors saying these things. So, with the smaller-fleet mindset, that you can build one warship to do the work of four others, you also expect the crew to do the work of numerous other personnel. As we recall in the Australian Navy, this hasn’t performed as planned, with widespread discontent and falling numbers of sailors reenlisting. Apparently the admirals failed to have the sailors in mind when designing the multimission warship concept.
About those “Water Wings”
From the same Navy Times article, we learn more about the “buoyancy tanks” additions on the LCS stern:
An upgrade to the ship itself also could be a sign the ship is not quite conforming to the Navy’s expectations. In December, the Navy took the unusual step of welding two large, oblong boxes onto Freedom’s stern, on either side of the gate used to launch and recover small boats. The boxes, dubbed “buoyancy tanks,” enclose void space that rides above the waterline, canted to allow Freedom to get up on plane, skimming over the waves like a giant Jet Ski to reach its high sprint speeds.
Garner said the tanks were there to give Freedom extra buoyancy in case it started to sink, and had been installed to bring the ship in compliance with Naval Vessel Rules. Garner would not comment about whether the boxes meant Freedom specifically, and the Lockheed Martin design for LCS generally were built with too little reserve buoyancy.
Never fear though, says Lockmart, since the extra reserve buoyancy will likely be built into follow-up vessels. Here from a separate Scoop Deck post:
Kim Martinez, a spokeswoman for Freedom-class LCS builder Lockheed Martin, said Friday that LockMart’s next ship, the Fort Worth, “is being assessed to preclude the same tank design,” and depending on that study, could get some modification while it’s being built to obviate the need for its own pair of water wings.
Meaning, even more weight added to the already overweight hull. Though I’m no engineer, this sounds like the seakeeping abilities are getting worse, not better. Remember the pic ScottB pointed out to use the other day, with Freedom struggling in fairly moderate seas?
Last year Tim Colton mentioned the weight issue:
Let’s be blunt (for a change). LCS 1 is way overweight. I’m told that her lightweight is about 3100 tons and her full-load displacement is about 3400 tons…Why are we building this ship?
N-LOS No Show
A primary defensive weapon for the littoral ships has failed in tests, according to Phil Ewing at Scoop Deck:
Even though the Navy is very proud that the littoral combat ship Freedom is underway right now in the Caribbean patrolling for smugglers, there are many parts of the LCS concept still in the works. The wham-o-dyne, helicopter-mounted, super-gun that will blow up mines, for example, is still under development, as are the Non Line Of Sight “precision attack missiles,” which are planned to give LCS ships a quick, extended ability to hit surface targets.
However, as reported by our colleague Kate Brannen, all is not well in NLOS land. Not only are the missiles doing poorly in live-fire tests, but as Brannen writes in the print edition of this week’s Defense News (on newsstands now!) they are proving to be much more expensive than planned. NLOS, which the Navy is developing with the Army, will cost $466,000 per round in 2011, according to Army budget documents.
Yet another black mark on a troubled program. Other than the fact that the LCS won’t float and can’t fight, this is really a great warship program, I tell ya!
Merkava Goes to Sea
The Israeli Navy, er-Army has found a way to create an instant littoral ship. Craig Hooper of Next Navy reports:
According to a September 22, 2009 Jerusalem Post article (no direct link available, sorry), Israel purchased several landing craft (the IDF has not mounted an amphibious assault since the early ’80s). Why? Well, the Post article gives a hint–it all goes back to Gaza:
“In both conflicts, the navy faced almost zero resistance at sea, and during Cast Lead it was able to provide close artillery support for the Paratroopers Brigade – which maneuvered along the coast.”
In Gaza, fire support was provided by Sa’ar boats, and those little ships used their tiny guns to great effect, hitting some 200 targets during Cast Lead. The most recent Jane’s Navy International (again, no link available) provided more details–it seems the Israeli Navy has purchased several 25 Meter/20 knot LCTs, sticking Merkava Main Battle Tanks upon them (or some troops, or, well, whatever fits…) and sailing away.
“It is the navy’s mission to support the infantry and the best way to do it is with LCTs,” IN Captain (res) Mike Eldar, who commanded the IN’s amphibious flotilla in 1982, told Jane’s. “This is an important capability and will give the IDF more flexibility and maneuverability.”
For duty off Gaza or off Lebanon, these ultra-cheap littoral combat boats (along with their hefty ‘ole mission module) will be a game changer.
How cool is that? The Israeli’s are taking its cue from the Chinese who had the same idea but on a grand scale. Such thinking outside the box, warfare off the shelf is the way of the future. Certainly is affordable.
LCS Alternative-Comandante class corvette
This class of 6 built by Fincantieri of Italy is labeled a corvette though armed much like an OPV. Its mission ability includes long and medium range patrols with an endurance of 10 days. Other duties include “establishing presence in and patrolling international waters, patrolling and guarding maritime borders and surveillance of the exclusive economic zone”, and combat operations.
- Length-88 meters
- Beam-12.2 meters
- Draft-4.6 meters
- Displacement-1520 tons full
- Speed-25 knots
- Armament-1 Main Caliber Gun – 76 mm OTOBREDA
2 Secondary Caliber Guns – 25 mm OTOBREDA
Flight deck and retractable hangar for AB 212/NH 90 helo
More info from Naval-Technology.