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LCS Alternative Weekly

June 9, 2010

The High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) is moored in Balboa-Rodman, Panama.

The Spin Stops in the Comments

Only within the comments was there any thing “Fair and Balanced” concerning a Fox News article titled “The Navy’s New Corvette“. Locke Wilde wrote:

With all due respect to Fox News, this article is a bit too much rah-rah and not enough investigative reporting. This ship, like the trimaran Independence, has become a huge problem for the Navy. It is way over budget and in search of a mission. $600M is a high price to pay for a ship incapable of defending itself against any but the most basic threats. It has no organic surface to air missile system, making it an easy victim of aircraft and missiles. Although one of its missions is supposed to be anti-sub warfare, the ships don’t even have an organic sonar, relying instead on an underwater ROV. I suspect that any sub could easily outrun a tethered ROV. This just might prove to be a limitation in that warfare area. The gun is the smallest of any ship of it’s class in the world. Some of the warfare modules are not ready and may never be ready. The ships were supposed to us the Army’s NLOS surface to surface rocket system for shore bombardment and support of troops ashore. The Army recently canceled the NLOS system. The ships’ sole mission may be to chase dopers, a mission for which they seem well suited. We don’t need 60…or even 20 for that mission however. Oh…who am I to blather on like this? A retired 28 year Navy surface warfare officer…who doesn’t watch any news but Fox.


It Beats Extinction

The West seems satisfied with a declining number of ever more complicated and astronomically expensive large warships, which ironically have little place in modern warfare other than gross overkill. Here is James Hasik who has a better notion:

The Navy’s shipbuilding plan has been basically unbelievable for years, and even my old friends who are still with the department tell me that regularly. Without that additional money that the service won’t be getting, the Navy will have two simple choices: buy fewer ships, or as Gates seems to suggest, buy smaller ships. Given the progress of technology and the evolution of threats, one can make a pretty good case for the latter. With fewer resources, smaller warships, like smaller armies, may make a great deal of financial and strategic sense. It’s just that the consequences for the structure of today’s arms industry will be quite significant.

It only makes sense–For many small threats build many small warships, which also require smaller crews, less fuel, and lower operating costs.


Canada Needs Corvettes

Some are calling the recent Canadian Government plan to spend $35 billion on shipbuilding in the next 30 years “sound and fury, smoke and mirrors”. A former Royal Navy officer has some ideas on how to fix the fleet. From the Vancouver Sun:

David Mugridge, former British Royal Navy commander, now research fellow at Dalhousie University’s Centre for Foreign Policy Studies, says the navy would be wrong to maintain its aging Cold War-era fleet with large new ships of similar purpose.
He says it could save billions of dollars by discarding its destroyers and cutting back on its expensive, high-end frigates, in favour of a new and larger fleet of smaller, corvette-size ships that are less costly to build and operate, and are better designed for missions the navy is called on to handle: policing the African coastline for pirates; patrolling the Persian Gulf and boarding ships suspected of supplying terrorist networks; and delivering emergency aid to Haiti.

“The sorts of law enforcement operations that are conducted by navies in an age of terror do not require highly sophisticated platforms.
“They require relatively low-tech platforms and fewer people to man them,” says Mugridge.

Obviously a reader of this blog, or perhaps just plain common sense?


Wasting fuel faster than a BP Oil Well!

ScottB points to some interesting figures on the LCS fuel usage (source Defense Daily subscr. only):

The LM design is generally reported to have a fuel capacity comprised somewhere between 110,000 gallons and 120,000 gallons. Let’s assume 120,000 gallons.

@ 16 knots, fuel consumption is 18.4 barrel per hour, i.e. 772.8 gallon per hour, meaning that speed can be sustained for about 155 hours. This produces a range of about 2,500 NM @ 16 knots.

@ 40 knots, fuel consumption is 138 barrel per hour, i.e. 5,796 gallon per hour, meaning that speed can be sustained for about 21 hours. This produces a range of about 840 NM @ 40 knots.

Requirements set for LCS were supposed to be :

Range @ Economical Speed :
* threshold : 3,500 NM (@ 18 knots)
* objective : 4,300 NM (@ 20 knots)

Range @ Sprint Speed :
* threshold : 1,000 NM (@ 40 knots)
* objective : 1,500 NM (@ 50 knots)

The armament of a patrol boat, as well as the range! But still costing like a high end frigate or destroyer.


Stiletto Dazzles at Hells Gate

I was completely fascinated as photographer Mitch Waxman tried to figure out what the strange UFO type vessel that was cruising under the Hellgate Bridge in Astoria Park. What he gave was an unbiased view of the transformation of war at sea:

I’ve become pretty familiar with NY Harbor in the last year, and can identify some of the common types of ships that cross its waters. Every now and then, however, a mysterious craft- an unidentified floating object or UFO if you will- crosses in front of me. Proceeding south, this catamaran (actually a trimaran) was nearly devoid of markings- which is remarkable in itself- and moving at a tremendous clip. Its “colorway” and hull shape instantly said “military” to me, but I could not recognize its specie…

Evocative, as on one hand it resembled a radar dodging stealth aircraft for the odd angles and aerodynamic shape, on the other it suggested a modern combat tank with its armor designed to deflect rather than defeat ballistic weapons…

The “colorway” and camouflage of the craft suggested that the futurists of Britain still have modern adherents, long after the last of the “dazzle ships” were launched.
For those of you not in the know, the Dazzle Ships were an experiment in “breaking up the shape” of large combat vessels against the horizon, an attempt to reduce the visual profile of capital ships and reduce the ability of submariners to target vital areas of said ships. Dazzle works best at distance, which is what modern naval combat is all about…

Often you get a bit distracted listening to the critics, who equate small size with not able to take battle damage, or poorly armed, or poor seakeepers. But since future navies are now faced with a different type threat, small lethal craft able to fire light and lethal precision guided missiles, you will have to have a small and lethal craft, in large numbers to survive. Warships of the future won’t necessarily need to be able to accept battle damage, but must avoid it at all cost. The point is to keep it small and cheap, so you can have very many targets for the enemy to worry about, instead of very few giant ones which we pour enormous treasure and time into building, which may not survive an hour when the next blowup at sea comes, this time involving many missiles.


LCS No-Show at Birthday Party

The USS Freedom won’t be attending the Canadian Navy’s Centennial Celebrations, we are told by Chris Cavas of Defense News:

The Littoral Combat Ship USS Freedom will miss the Canadian Navy’s 100th birthday party next week and instead spend more time preparing for a major fleet exercise, the U.S. Navy announced Monday…

The Freedom has been at San Diego since finishing up her maiden deployment April 23. A number of minor problems cropped up during her cruise, including, according to Naval Surface Forces, minor leaks “in both the port and starboard splitter gear lube oil coolers.”
Additionally, “cracks and minor structural damage was discovered in one of the centerline fuel tanks,” the Navy said.

The Navy is still trying to figure what causes the LCS problems. The answers is simple, building gold-plate ships meant to fight a third-rate foe.


Sweat-Soaked Pirate Busters

I know I give the LCS a hard time for being a “Luxury Combat Ship”, but I think the Swedish Navy has us beat in this respect. Read this story by Katharine Houreld at the Associated Press:

Building an international alliance to fight the pirates means navies have to try to harmonize their cultures alongside their weapons and communications systems. Some of the adjustments are serious, like agreeing to common rules of engagement and having lawyers advise warships on how to gather evidence and treat captives…During off-duty hours, the sauna is at the heart of socializing on the ship. Spanish, German and Norwegian officers meet their Swedish colleagues there after long days in the Indian Ocean searching for pirates, responding to attacks and planning escorts for ships.
Of course, in the waters off the sweltering Somali coast, sailors can work up a good sweat even while doing nothing. Temperatures often hover around 100 degrees.

And if the suffering wasn’t bad enough for these mighty warriors of Christendom, there is a further chore to contend with:

Women make up 20% of the sailors aboard the Carlskrona, handling all sorts of assignments, varying from intelligence work to machine gun drills and working in the helicopter squadron. Among the female crew is Susanne Bursvik, one of two nurses aboard who help sailors relax between watches or exercises by offering massages.
“If I can help people feel better, I feel I’ve done my job,” she said.

Making people feel better. It’s what war is all about…


13 Comments leave one →
  1. Al L. permalink
    June 10, 2010 12:49 pm

    Re: LCS-2 critical speed problem

    Table 2 and the preceeding paragraph in the document linked below lead me to believe LCS-2 can pass through the critical speed region to higher speeds physically. As a practical matter though 40+ knots might be dangerous in less then 50′. All the more reason to evaluate the 2 designs ability to function at imtermediate speeds.

  2. Juramentado permalink
    June 10, 2010 12:06 pm

    Mike – LCS would need to assume high speeds in very shallow waters if the mission requires getting to a specific point quickly, or to catch up with another vessel to cut off it’s escape (think pirate VBSS). Some ISR operations would also require speed, or if you had picked up SOF and needed to clear datum immediately…

  3. Mike Burleson permalink*
    June 10, 2010 11:21 am

    Seems to me, the only time a large warship should be running at full speed in shallow waters is when it is leaving it! Run into a mine at 30-40 knots would not be a pretty sight.

  4. Juramentado permalink
    June 10, 2010 9:42 am

    @Scott B – why would Block 2 RAM add challenges? RAM B2 IOC is supposedly set for 2013, and the LCS program will have bigger headaches to contend with before then – like the potential legal battle following the down-select.

  5. Juramentado permalink
    June 10, 2010 9:07 am

    @Scott B – you’re referring to the phenomenon where high-speed vessels entering shallow water at low speed may result in greater resistance for the vessel when it attempts to accelerate? I have not been able to locate the oft-referenced (but not directly quoted from) “Resistance Characteristics of High-Speed Trimarans in Shallow Water.”

    In short, the current story making the rounds is that this phenomenon will be exacerbated for vessels with longer hull waterlines and particularly for trimarans. However if the vessel enters shallow water already at high speed and sustains that speed, the phenomenon is not encountered. That boundary layer will vary depending on actual depth under keel. This obviously has implications for sprint-drift type operations, as well as evolutions requiring multiple speed changeswithin the littorals. I don’t see any primary sources being quoted other than the aforementioned paper that I could not locate even as a reference. For those that have some free time, you may wish to use Lexis-Nexis or your local library’s reference desk to see if a copy can be obtained through inter-lib loan.

    It would be interesting to know if Freedom encountered this during her tour with 4th Fleet on CIT interdiction. Parts of the Caribbean are as shallow as the Persian Gulf.

    As for SeaRAM, I don’t think NAVSEA have really taken into account the lessons learned by the Israelis. Point-defence is exactly that, a last-ditch effort to kill the leakers that made it’s way through your primary counter-weapon. A saturated attack against LCS will succeed without the assistance of a dedicated AAW platform. Granted, the CONOPS says LCS wouldn’t operate without said support. But then again, the CONOPS also say that it’s supposed to conduct ISR? Excuse me? How do that if you’re trailing a huge Burke behind you even if you’re separated by 30 miles? Or very obvious overhead cover? If you have overhead cover (implying air superiority has bee established), wouldn’t it make more sense to use UAVs for scouting instead of a slower platform like a ship? Ack. Don’t get me started.

    It wouldn’t hurt to stick a Phalanx or Goalkeeper somewhere to cover the remainder of the arc that SeaRAM isn’t seeing. We can only hope the current RFI for MRSSM bay is going to give a multi-threat capable system like ESSM so there’s some semblance of air-defence capability.

  6. B.Smitty permalink
    June 10, 2010 8:43 am

    Scott B said, “Here is a clue though : the answer may have something to do with the so-called critical speed region.

    Even though my only brush with Naval Engineering was studying for the EIT in college (what does a CpE/EE need to know about AOE anyway?), I’ll take a shot.

    My guess is it has something to do with wake interaction with the ocean floor.

    I imagine other problems might include the fear of ingesting stirred up debris into the waterjets (Bill’s Persian rug), and running too fast for lookouts to see potential hazards.

  7. Scott B. permalink
    June 9, 2010 5:46 pm

    Locke Wilde wrote : “[LCS] has no organic surface to air missile system.”

    LCS-1 has RAM and LCS-2 has SeaRAM.

    Whether or not LCS-1 can make the most of RAM because of the not-so-good TRS-3D/16 radar (and not so wise radar placement) is another matter…

    And, of course, the recent rebaselining of the system design and development of the Block 2 upgrade to the Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) may add yet another *challenge* on the LCS homefront…

  8. Scott B. permalink
    June 9, 2010 5:16 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “I’m, not sure, Scott. Got any info on this?”


    The question I asked was : “is any of the current LCS designs (LockMart & Austal) capable of accelerating to a speed of 40 knots (or more) in shallow water (let’s assume 50 feet) ?”

    IOW, the context, i.e. shallow water (again let’s assume 50 feet) is exactly what makes the question worth asking…

    And, yes, I’ve got some info on this, but first, I’d like to see what sort of answer people are going to come up with.

    Here is a clue though : the answer may have something to do with the so-called critical speed region.

  9. Mike Burleson permalink*
    June 9, 2010 5:01 pm

    “is any of the current LCS designs (LockMart & Austal) capable of accelerating to a speed of 40 knots”

    I’m, not sure, Scott. Got any info on this?

  10. Scott B. permalink
    June 9, 2010 4:46 pm

    LCS Pop Quizz !!!!!!!!

    Question 1 : is any of the current LCS designs (LockMart & Austal) capable of accelerating to a speed of 40 knots (or more) in shallow water (let’s assume 50 feet) ?

    Question 2 : in case none of the current LCS designs is capable of doing the above (you never know…), what does that mean for a program that aimed at delivering High-Speed Vessels geared towards littoral warfare ?

  11. D. E. Reddick permalink
    June 9, 2010 12:12 pm

    Austal is going to be kept busy no matter what happens with the LCS program. Besides the 1st three of the JHSV transports already being built, Austal has been funded by the US Navy for the acquisition of materials for the next two JHSVs to be built.

    US Navy Orders Material for JHSV 4 and 5
    7 June 2010

    The US Navy has exercised contract options funding Austal’s acquisition of long lead-time equipment associated with the construction of two additional 103 metre Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV).

    As the prime contractor, Austal currently has contracts to build the first three JHSVs as part of a 10-vessel program valued at up to AUD $2 billion. Today’s award funds the acquisition of long lead time material for JHSV 4 and 5.

  12. ShockwaveLover permalink
    June 9, 2010 8:51 am

    Perhaps we should hold another round of Back-ronyming: this time for the JHSV?

    Just-in-time Highly suitable Vessel

    Is my contribution.


  1. Military And Intelligence News Briefs — June 9, 2010 | TechsZone

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