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LCS Alternative Weekly

March 3, 2010

Cv Frotin is an Inhaúma class corvette. Photo by the Brazilian Navy

Freedoms Pyhrric Victory

From Strategypage:

The US Navy’s first “Littoral Combat Ship” (LCS), the USS Freedom (LCS 1), has entered service in the Caribbean, joining the U.S. Navy drug interdiction patrol. Operating out of a base (Mayport) near Jacksonville, Florida, the Freedom headed south on February 15th, and on the 22nd intercepted its first drug smuggling boat off the Colombian coast, recovering a quarter ton of cocaine. The LCS was built for this kind of coastal operations.
The USS Freedom completed its sea trials and acceptance inspections during August, 2008. The ship did very well, with far fewer (about 90 percent fewer) problems (or “material deficiencies”) than is usual with the first warship in a class.

LCS will probably work as prescribed in its specs. It will likely be a halfway decent sailor. It is a welcome change to the fleet which has a habit of only purchasing warships costing $1 billion dollar or more, while its only peer rival from the Cold War is rusting in harbor. Its only potential rival for the future has little qualms in low cost warships, as China has. She had doubled her own fleet of submarines in just this past decade, while the USN fleet continues a gradual decline.

This then has left many frustrated with the LCS, and rightly so. The inability to build low cost warships, on time, within budgets. Spending more but getting less. Have we wrongly singled out LCS for a Navy culture that seems bent on self-destruction, and that is its own worse enemy?


What Freedom Could Learn from the Danes

CDR Salamander on the ongoing Queen of the Pirate Busters, the HMDS Absalon, continuing to ratchet up the score in the Gulf, foiling yet another pirate vessel:

One note here: we are talking about the Danes. They don’t have horns on their bridge wings, but as they prove every day in AFG and other areas in the war on terror, for a nation of a bit more than 5 million souls – Denmark pound for pound is one of our best allies. Few caveats – little problem going “kinetic.”…

….and yes – I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you that they are using one of my dreamboats: HDMS ABSALON. We’ve talked about her many times here. Once again – I would trade 15 LCS for 10 ABSALONs any day. You talk about a ship perfect for “soft-power,” “presence,” and so on …. she is it – and she is a true multi-mission ship on top of it all.


A Grave Lapse

Defense Industry Daily details the USN’s neglect of mine warfare:

All of these systems are used by the US Navy’s MH-53E Sea Dragon mine hunting helicopters. With tensions rising around critical global shipping chokepoints, the USN’s new Osprey Class minehunters retired early and sold to other countries, its Littoral Combat Ship program late, and its associated MH-60S AMCM systems still a years away from full deployment, the MH-53Es and their gear are extremely important to the US Navy.

The major foe of the US Navy in the Gulf in recent years hasn’t been missiles so much as mines. Very interesting this ongoing lapse in our abilities.


You Want Regular or High Test?

I suppose that would be important, which LCS saves the most fuel. Congress asks the navy according to Blog

Fuel efficiency is usually considered a selling point for car buyers, not the military.  But at a Thursday hearing, Sen. Jeff Sessions pressed Navy Secretary Ray Mabus over whether the service is looking closely enough at fuel costs as it seeks a long-term builder for the littoral combat ship.

In choosing between two competing models of the shallow-water warship, “you have to fully and fairly evaluate the lifetime energy costs, do you not?” Sessions, R-Mobile, asked Mabus, who later replied that all “ownership costs” are being considered.

Underlying the Senate Armed Services Committee sparring was Austal USA’s argument that — because of design and horsepower differences — its version of the LCS burns roughly one-third less fuel than the rival model built by a team headed by Maryland-based Lockheed Martin Corp.

I would say, fill up both tanks and run them until their run out of fuel. The last one to stop, is the winner!


Fractured LCS Acronyms

From the Fearless Band of Readers comes another selection of terribly accurate  acronyms:

  • Like, you Can’t be Serious!
  • Leaky Creaky Squeeky
  • Launch Can’t Succeed
  • Lunch Completely Swallowed
  • Left Competence onShore
  • Lacking Complete Seaworthiness

Thanks to Heretic, Graham, D.E. and yours truly. Until next week, please add to the list!


LCS Alternative-Brazilian corvette Barroso

The Barroso is an improved version of the older Inhaúma class, which were considered top heavy. This fairly large corvette also maintains the heavy gun armament of the previous class. She possess CODOG propulsion and a hull mounted sonar. You might say she is a patrol boat, but armed like a destroyer!


  • Displacement-1785 tons
  • Length-103 meters
  • Draft-5.3 meters
  • Speed-27 knots
  • Range-4000 miles @ 15 knots
  • Crew-154
  • Armament-1 × 4.5 in (113 mm) Vickers Mk.8 gun
    1 × 40 mm Bofors Trinity Mk.3 gun
    4 × MBDA Exocet MM40 Block 1/2
    ASW torpedoes
    2 × ARES SLT Mod 400 triple-tube (324 mm) launchers for Mk.46 Mod 5
  • Helicopter-Hangar for AH-11A Super Lynx


13 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike Burleson permalink*
    March 7, 2010 5:44 am

    Think I’m starting to get the idea!

  2. D. E. Reddick permalink
    March 7, 2010 1:00 am

    My options as to alternative, American meanings for “binned”:


    And I’m sure that others can provide further, enlightening terms so as to educate all of us… ;-)

  3. March 6, 2010 9:20 pm


    I think the American for “bin” would be “trash can”.
    Synonyms for “binned” would be “axed”,”chopped”,”cut”,”terminated”,”ended”.
    I am sure other readers can come up with more interesting ones.


  4. Mike Burleson permalink*
    March 6, 2010 4:42 pm

    Alex, forgive my Yankee ignorance, but what does “binned” mean? Second time I heard that from a British writer!

  5. Alex Mk.2 permalink
    March 6, 2010 8:25 am

    LCS is definitely a prime example of over-engineering, however the suggestions for replacements are not enough, LCS is an entirely different ball game to a corvette, a corvette will operate more in low threat areas where presence is more important than firepower, the littorals are a high threat area, any warship will need a mutli-layer local area air-defence system, (57/76mm, RAM, Autocannons) ESSM isn’t necessary but I’ve still come to the conclusion than building a ship primarily for littoral warfare is a waste of resources whether there is a fully balanced fleet in support or not, supposing that LCS as we know it was binned 10 years go and replaced by a dual projects, a littoral warfighter and a Future light escort (frigate, 4000t~), the former wouldn’t need 2 full-size rotaries, wouldn’t need to be able to support EMF for sustained periods, wouldn’t need to be any larger than 800-1000T (in the littorals everything is a target, why make it bigger than it needs to be?) but would still be in the $200m(again rough guess) bracket ignoring the RAS vessels required to support them while the latter would have ESSM, AShMs, Full-sized helicopter(s), 5″/62, an EMF etc. and would cost less than twice that of the pint-sized vessel.

    – Alex

  6. Mike Burleson permalink*
    March 5, 2010 4:43 pm

    graham wrote ““American Naval Procurement Song””

    I think you have a hit there! Well done.

  7. Graham Strouse permalink
    March 4, 2010 10:48 pm

    A working draft…

    “American Naval Procurement Song”

    (Sung to the tune of Ke$ha’s Tik Tok)

    Wake up every morning and my ships are all leaky
    But I couldn’t care less, got cost-plus cash in my kitty
    Now I’m building a new ship, it’s called LCS
    Not sure what that means, but its all for the best?

    Before we launch, drink a bottle of Jack
    And I smile real wide–this boat ain’t comin back!

    I’m talking Senators who owe me, me
    Sailors lookin a little green, green
    My ships sunk by the Chinese
    Cause they’re a little bit leaky, la-la-la leaky

    Won’t stop, our ships are slop
    Crooked dollars always talk
    The bid is in, its all win
    Cause we bought the competition
    Won’t stop, our ships are slop
    Crooked dollars always talk
    Fire! Fire! Our ships are all on fire

    Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh!
    Oh well, Oh well…

    It will sink in heavy seas
    But no way it costs me
    We got cost, plus benefit
    We will sell L-C-S yet…

    (Work still in progress. Editorial suggestions and vocalist criticisms welcome…)


  8. leesea permalink
    March 4, 2010 6:17 pm

    DER, I am assuming the LCS program is not going to terminated though might be truncated.

    Bill my parameters for a small combatant (more than a PC replacement) are:
    1200- 1500 tons FLD
    > 200 ft LOA
    20-25 kts sustained
    medium caliber gun plus CIWs with several smaller weapons
    AAW missiles
    sensor suite for above
    launching system for two 11 meter RHBs or similar
    one UAV pad
    tankage and storage for above
    endurance TBD

    Yes there are plenty of possible designs existing

  9. D. E. Reddick permalink
    March 4, 2010 1:53 pm

    I would prefer to see a comparative building & testing of three types of corvette that would replace the LCS in the littoral war-fighting role.

    1) An enlarged Norwegian Skojld, capable of deploying two Fire Scout UAVs from a hanger & flight deck. The degree of enlargement needed to include a UAV det would probably push the design into the 500 ton range. Add a RAM or SeaRAM for defense against missiles and other airborne threats.

    2) An enlarged Swedish Visby, with the same UAV det capability added to it. Adding a RAM or SeaRAM along with a hanger and flight deck would likely push it up to around 800 tons.

    3) A stretched U.A.E. Baynunah class corvette, capable of operating a single medium helo along with two UAV det. This would be a ship in the 1,200 to 1,500 ton range. Double or triple its load of ESSMs from eight to sixteen or 24.

    To give these types of corvettes a truly persistent presence along foreign shores, deploy them in four ship squadrons led by an Absalon class Command & Support (C&S) frigate (sloop) acting as a mothership to the corvette squadron. And to guard the blue water approaches to the squadron pair a Iver Huitfeldt class AAW frigate with each Absalon C&S sloop. The two larger warships would receive regular UNREPs from fleet oilers and replenishment ships. The corvettes would receive fuel and stores from the Absalon class mothership.

    Now, there you have squadron made up of four corvettes, one C&S sloop mothership, and one AAW frigate guardship. Try out the three different types of corvette and determine which best fits the function of a littoral combatant. With each corvette carrying one or two RHIBs and two UAVs, then they can function autonomously or in concert to control littoral waters. Add in four medium helos from the mothership and guardship to make up a task group air squadron capable of supporting the deployed corvettes.

    So, this is not a bunch of overpriced and underarmed LCS platforms. Oh, and don’t call this corvette-centered force an Influence Squadron. Rather, call it a Littoral Combatant Squadron – you know, LCS. That’s my idea for an LCS alternative.

  10. Bill permalink
    March 4, 2010 9:51 am


    How small is ‘smaller’ in your view?

  11. leesea permalink
    March 3, 2010 7:42 pm

    whether we like it or not the USN is about to award a contract which will get it about 19 LCS. So what we should be talking about is a warship which supplements the LCS. My preference is for a hull which is smaller and better equipped for littoral missions than LCS. Smaller cheaper and more in numbers. I think Mike would buy that concept?

    Not so much for attack or sea control but patrol and support of land missions

  12. B.Smitty permalink
    March 3, 2010 3:45 pm

    Slightly off-topic but there’s an interesting LCS 1 & 2 comparison article in this month’s National Defense Magazine.


  1. Military And Intelligence News Briefs — March 4, 2010 « Read NEWS

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