There has been a spate of good news regarding the LCS program recently or so the Navy would have us believe. Consider this tidbit, reported by USNI website, in which PEO LCS describes the ASW module performance as "phenomenal" (1),
“ ‘… the results are classified, but what I can tell you is that the performance of the system was phenomenal,’ Antonio [PEO Rear Adm. Brian Antonio] said.”
USNI describes the ASW module components thusly,
“The anti-submarine warfare mission package consists of the same Multi-Function Towed Array submarine-detection sonar already used in the fleet, a variable-depth sonar and a towed lightweight torpedo decoy. If an enemy submarine were detected and needed to be attacked, the mission package also includes the MH-60S helicopter with Mk-54 airdropped lightweight torpedoes.”
Note that the towed array and decoy systems are fleet standard so the only new component is the variable depth sonar and that’s only new to the US Navy. It’s been in routine use in other navies for some time. So, it would seem that the combination of two standard systems and a well established foreign system constitute the definition of “phenomenal”. Hmmmm ……
RAdm. Antonio also noted that the ASW module was too heavy for production and deployment but I guess that doesn’t stop it from being “phenomenal”.
Moving on …
In another USNI website article, the same RAdm. Antonio had this to say about the USS Fort Worth’s deployment (2),
“as challenging as Freedom was,
has just been phenomenal” Fort Worth
There’s that word again, “phenomenal”. Did someone get a word-of-the-day calendar for a gift?
has experienced an improvement in maintenance issues over those experienced by Freedom during her Singapore PR cruise. Fort Worth
“… in the order of hundreds of hours of corrective maintenance compared to thousands of hours of corrective maintenance…”
The numbers are a bit vague and I don’t know whether hundreds of hours of corrective maintenance constitute an actual success or just a relative success compared to the phenomenally (hey, if PEO LCS can toss the word around, so can I) disastrous Freedom cruise.
I find it phenomenal that the LCS is suddenly so phenomenal after so many problems. Still, it’s phenomenally good news – if you believe the Navy. And therein lies the point of this post. Do you believe what the Navy has to say about the LCS? Remember, they’ve lied about every aspect of this program from day one until now so do you really believe the phenomenal news? I don’t and that’s really sad. It doesn’t matter whether PEO LCS’ news is accurate or not. The real issue is that the Navy’s credibility is so badly damaged that it leads me to automatically and utterly discount anything they say. Credibility was the real casualty of the botched LCS program.
Well, you say, there may have been some spin applied to the LCS in the past but they’re making real progress now and we should accept the phenomenal news at face value rather than automatically doubt it. I might be inclined to do that if it weren’t for the DOT&E annual reports that paint a completely different picture of the state of the LCS program in general and the ASW module in particular. DOT&E reports not only don’t use the word phenomenal, they describe in great detail the myriad failings of the program. So, I combine the utter lack of credibility with the DOT&E reports and conclude that the Navy is, yet again,
lying aggressively applying wishful thinking.
It’s phenomenal how difficult it is to regain one’s credibility after it’s been lost. A good start, though, would be to speak truthfully.
(1) USNI, "PEO LCS Looking at 2016 Deployment of Anti-Sub Package Ahead of Reaching IOC", Megan Eckstein,
(2) USNI, "USS Fort Worth Successfully Tested Overseas Maintenance Outside of
Hub", Megan Eckstein, Singapore 13-Apr-2015,