Saturday, April 20, 2013

Don’t Join For The Food

Here's an interesting tidbit.  From the most recent CRS report (1), we note that the LCS was designed to be able to deploy for at least 21 days, however, the ship only has food storage for 14 days.  Assuming a few days sailing to and from the area of operation, the functional deployment of the LCS is limited to around 8-10 days.  Of course, a mothership or replenishment ship could always tag along with the LCS and replenish it every few days but that seems highly inefficient.

One of the aspects of operating small vessels that seems not to have been understood by the Navy or by  proponents of small vessels when they look at foreign navies and their small vessels is that most (all) foreign navies operate their small vessels in home waters where ports are just hours away.  Trying to operate small vessels half way around the world, as the U.S. Navy does, presents significant logistical challenges.  As I just said, the LCS is either limited to very short deployments or must have a replenishment ship tagging along at all times.

Of course, ComNavOps notes that the 14 day food storage capacity was for the original crew size.  The Navy has since increased the core crew size by 20 berths (50% increase) which drops the food storage to around 10 days or less!

(1)Congressional Research Service, “Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program:
Background and Issues for Congress”, Ronald O'Rourke, April 5, 2013, p. 21

6 comments:

  1. There are quite a few small navies that operate ships far from their home waters for extended periods of time. Look, for instance, at the frigates of the Danish, Belgium and Dutch navies, which operate off of Somalia as part of anti-piracy patrols. The French and British navies have global commitments. It is more than possible to have corvettes or frigates in the 3,000 ton range which have significant endurance without sacrificing too much in the way of capabilities.

    Heck, the old Asheville gunboats (250 tons) had 14+ days endurance. They certainly weren't comfortable for the crews, but they could and did deploy for two weeks at sea.

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  2. The solution is MREs ....... lots and lots of MREs stuffed into every nook and cranny of the boat, augmented of course by fishing poles.

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    1. Anon, I can't believe it. After all this time and development by the Navy, you've come up with the first truly useful mission module for the LCS. See the next post.

      A tip of ComNavOps' hat to you!

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  3. Maybe LCS 3 has been redesigned, but back when LCS 1 was first visiting Norfolk Va, the tour guide showed us how reprovisioning of food occurred onboard USS Freedom: the food was hand carried from the helo deck or helo hanger down a very narrow ladder into the messdecks and then thru the serving area into the galley itself. Then carried by one person all the way thru the galley, winding back into the backmost part of the galley, and into the food storeroom for LCS 1. This was 100 percent manual operation. Not once ounce of thought went into any aspect of labor saving design to replenish food onboard the originial LCS 1. Once a person carried whatever small amount of food on this twisty journey, he would discover that the amount of room to store frozen food, refrigerated food or dry food was ridiculously small. For even a ship half the size of an LCS. Furthermore, this little food storage - reefer space located in the back part of the galley, could never be locked, since it contained the emergency escape exit up from the main engine space directly below it. So much for any labor saving devices for a small LCS crew. Who designed this and who approved this design ? Nothing about this aspect was well thought out. Even the main very small mess decks area was poorly cobbled together by a non-Navy amateur "architect". There was no way to ever clean the mess decks by "securing" them for an hour or two for cleaning before or after each meal. Why ? because those who ran the engines down in the main space had to walk all the way thru the mess decks to get to the ladder leading down to their engineering compartment. Thus bringing dirt whenever they exitted the Main Space and tracking it thru the mess decks. Did someone in Navsea actually PAY some contractor for this so-called "design" ? Terrible. Our small church has far more refrigerator and food storage capacity and we only have approx 15 members (plus some little children). What does the LCS carry ? 90 grownups ? Really terrible non-labor-saving-design.

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    1. Anon, thank you very much for that description. You've managed to tie together several of my posts. The Navy's worst decision since WWII was to disband the General Board and BuShips. The Navy farmed out their naval architecture and design expertise to industry which may or may not have adequate knowledge to produce a worthy naval design. LCS-2, for example, was designed by a commercial shipbuilding company. The odds that they would produce a good design are poor. Further, by giving up the in-house design expertise, the Navy can't even intelligently evaluate industry designs. No bridge wings? Tracking dirt through the galley? The Navy's institutional design memory has been lost.

      Navy leadership has abdicated their shipbuilding expertise and responsibility, thus insuring sub-optimal ship designs that sailors will live (uncomfortably) and die on. I can think of no greater violation of trust than what Navy leadership has commited.

      It sounds like you had an extensive tour. Maybe you'd like to write a post further describing your impressions, good and bad, of the LCS?

      Thanks for stopping by.

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  4. The LCS's aren't exactly "small" vessels. They are significantly larger than the WWII-era Fletcher class.

    They just spend a lot of that volume on modular areas and propulsion.

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