We’ve documented instance after instance where the Navy has flat out lied. The lies cover a wide range of topics but the common theme is that they lie when the truth won’t get them what they want. To be fair, I guess that’s kind of the reason for lying, in general.
They lie about weapons performance, they lied about the USS Fort Worth’s
deployment performance, they’ve lied repeatedly
about their determination to early retire the Singapore Ticonderoga class cruisers, and so on.
The latest lie is about the LCS shock testing that was recently performed on the USS Jackson and USS Milwaukee. What did we read from the Navy? The tests went very well – even better than expected. Now we find out that the tests weren’t exactly what was described to us. The shock tests were only partial shock tests conducted at a greatly reduced shock load. The Navy neglected to mention that, didn’t they?
I’m not going to debate anyone about what a lie is. A lie of omission is still a lie. Deceit is a lie. The Navy omitted telling us that the shock tests were vastly scaled down. The Navy deceived us into believing that the LCS was fully tested.
What really happened? As ever, we have to depend on Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E) to tell us the truth. Here’s the DOT&E comments as reported by USNI News website (1).
Note: all emphasis added
“Full ship shock trials on both variants of the Littoral Combat Ship proved the ships are survivable and will only need “relatively minor modifications,” according to Navy written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, but the Pentagon’s top operational tester warned in his written testimony that the shocks were performed at reduced severity due to concerns about excessive damage to the ships.”
The tests were performed at reduced levels because the Navy knew the ships would be severely damaged by full testing.
Here’s the Navy’s lie.
“Stackley, [Sean Stackley, head of Navy acquisition] along with commander, Naval Surface Forces Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, wrote that “the LCS Program Office accomplished all FSST test objectives within budget, for both ship variants, demonstrating that the ships and ships’ systems are able to survive the degrading effects of an underwater shock event.”
DOT&E’s assessment is a bit different.
“Gilmore’s [Director, DOT&E] written testimony tells a different story. He wrote that ahead of the trials he “approved the reduced severity trial geometries for LCS-6 because of serious concerns about the potential for damage to non-shock hardened mission critical equipment and ship structure.” He added that the Independence-variant aluminum hull could suffer more damage than a traditional steel hull, and that the combat system and main propulsion system on those ships were not hardened. “To further mitigate potential equipment damage and personnel injury, some mission systems were removed, other equipment was modified to improve shock resistance, and construction deficiencies were corrected,” he wrote.”
This statement reveals all kinds of things – things that I’ve stated over the years and now have unambiguous proof for.
We find out that the much of the LCS equipment is not shock-hardened. Aside from having told you that for many years, this also puts the lie to the Navy’s attempt to claim that the LCS was built to some kind of Level 1+ survivability standard. As demonstrated in a previous post, Level 1 explicitly calls for shock-hardening and now we have proof that the LCS is not shock-hardened and, therefore, does not even meet Level 1 survivability let alone some made-up Level 1+. Here’s the relevant quote from OpNavInst 9070.1 which defines survivability levels.
“Level I represents the least severe environment anticipated and
excludes the need for enhanced survivability for designated ship
classes to sustain operations in the immediate area of an
engaged Battle Group or in the general war-at-sea region. In this category, the minimum design capability required shall, in
addition to the inherent sea keeping mission, provide for EMP
and shock hardening, …”
Lies! Beyond shock hardening, the LCS is also not EMP shielded – again, a failure to meet even Level 1 standards.
We also see from the statement that some equipment was removed prior to testing. I’ve been told that the 57 mm gun was removed, among other equipment. In addition, some equipment was modified for the test in order to allow it to survive. The Navy didn’t mention any of that, did they?
Moving on, what happened when stronger shocks were attempted on the
“Gilmore directed the Navy to use stronger shocks for the Milwaukee test, with the third one reaching two-thirds the shock severity the ship is built to sustain.
“The Navy conducted the first two shots from August 29 through
23, 2016, starting the trial at the same shock severity as
other modern surface combatants. However, the Navy stopped the LCS 5 trial after the second shot, thereby not
executing the planned third shot due to concerns with the shock environment,
personnel, and equipment,” Gilmore wrote. “The Navy viewed the third LCS 5 trial as not worthwhile because the Navy
was concerned shocking the ship at the increased level of that trial would
significantly damage substantial amounts of non-hardened equipment, as well as
damage, potentially significantly, the limited amount of hardened equipment,
thereby necessitating costly and lengthy repairs.”
Gilmore’s summary assessment?
““Neither shock trial resulted in catastrophic damage, yet both shock trials exposed critical shock deficiencies, which I will detail in an upcoming classified report,” he concluded. “These deficiencies, which were only identified in the shock trial, can now be specifically addressed and corrected by Navy engineers to make the ships more survivable.”
The Navy flat out lied and deceived us into believing that the LCS was fully tested like any other warship. Far from a success, the shock trials were an abysmal failure, apparently.
Now, here’s the really sad aspect of all this. There was no need for the Navy to lie. A reasonable case can be made that a small combatant does not need to be built to the same standards as a full-fledged warship. It’s actually quite reasonable to expect a small vessel to be unable to withstand the same stresses as a full-fledged warship. No one would object to such a conceptual design philosophy. Of course, that leads to the question of whether a half billion dollar vessel the size of a WWII Fletcher should be considered “small” but that’s another issue.
This entire issue is due to the Navy’s attempt to portray the LCS as a warship. They painted themselves into a corner. They can’t, on the one hand, claim that the LCS is a warship and, on the other hand, not hold it to the standards of a warship. By trying to deceive us into believing that the LCS is a warship they created the controversies over survivability and shock testing.
“Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” – We all learned that as children but the Navy appears not to understand it.
(1)USNI News website, “Navy Says LCS Shock Trials Had Positive Results; Pentagon Still Has Concerns”, Megan Eckstein,