Friday, January 10, 2014

LCS Anniversary

We’re coming up on the 8 year anniversary of the start of construction of USS Independence, LCS-2, which was laid down on 19-Jan-2006 and the 4 year anniversary of the ship’s commissioning on 16-Jan-2010.

Here’s a list of the ship’s deployments:

Hmmm …….

On a related note, PCU Coronado, LCS-4, was laid down on 17-Dec-2009 and is scheduled to be commissioned in April of 2014.  Four and a half years to get a corvette size ship built and into the Navy?

Also on a related note, we’re coming up on 8 years since construction of the LCSs started and 6 years since the first LCS, USS Freedom, was commissioned.  There are currently 24 LCSs built, building, or under contract.  So far, there are no functional mission modules and no LCS has conducted a deployment related to their intended missions.  The LCS class generates an amazing amount of attention for a class that has accomplished nothing and currently has no capability – of course, that’s probably the reason for the attention!


  1. Knox, Kidd, Perry, Spruance, Burke, et al lead to ... the LCS? The apple has fallen very far from the tree.

  2. Yes, Independences did prove to have a major design flaw, that has set that program back four years. But that why we build prototypes after all, for test problems. Now the Coronado has replaced the Independence as the prototype if the Austral design LCS, while Independence now is a platform for testing various mission module components. This means that Coronado is having to repeat all the builder tests originally intended for Independence. Yes this is unfortunate, but a lot cheaper than rushing into construction of the whole class, and then discovering that near fatal design flaw.

    As thing are, the Coronado has benefited not only from the Independence's experiences, but also those of Freedom, and to some extent Fort Worth. Learning curves do have a few advantages as well as drawbacks, if you are willing to slow down and take advantage of what you learn.

    1. GLof, so it's your contention that we didn't rush into production?

      We have 12 Independences built, building, or under contract despite having no useful modules and an unproven and untested design. Doesn't that kind of seem like rushing into production?

    2. CNO, you are now talking about the Jackson, not the Coronado.

      I happen to agree with you that the Jackson was started a year or more too so soon, as we have had no real time to test the Coronado. But don't try blaming the LCS supporters for this, it was the LCS critics putting political pressure on the Pentagon that resulted in that foolish plan to Down Select early, and the resulting split production decision. If I had my way, Jackson would still be in the shed, we would be farther along with the main weapon systems testing, and maybe even have a NLOS surface attack missile in development to fill that hole in the LCS program. Yes there have been mistake in the LCS program, but the cause of these error don't total fall the LCS supporters.

    3. No down select occurred, hence the continued split production of both variants across both shipyards. And you are blaming "LCS critics" for the Navy's own internal decisions to change the acquisition strategy 3 times in the program? Do you have any clue what you are talking about?

    4. GLof, I don't blame LCS supporters or critics for anything - they're just outside commentators. The actions taken in the LCS program are 100% the Navy's responsibility!

      A quick review of the timeline might be illuminating. The Navy issued the contract for the dual buy of 10+10 in Dec 2010, a full year before the Coronado was even launched! Even if I agreed with you that Coronado was the new "baseline" LCS, the Navy had issued contracts for the next 10 Independences before the new "baseline" was even built. Again, doesn't that seem like rushing? The new prototype, Coronado, wasn't even built and we committed to 10 more?! This isn't just the Jackson that we're talking about. We committed to 10 more ships of this class without a proven design.

    5. Anon, keep it polite and respectful.

    6. It must be remembered that the Navy does not exist in a vacuum, and to survive it must satisfy Congress, OSD, the President, and the BaCC (Bureaucrat and Consultant Cabal).

      With this in mind, Congress has been the driving force behind the Navy's action. The LCS critics both in and out of Congress and BaCC have complained about "high price" of the LCS prototypes, and have gone as far canceling the second set of prototypes. They then told the Navy if the cost of the LCS did not drop, they cancel the whole program.

      The Navy leadership took note of this, and try a force the LCS builder into fix priced contracts, which the builder wisely refused to do on such an immature design. The Navy also guarantee Congress that the production LCS would cost under half a billion, as safe bet, but one they could not prove. as the builder refusal.

      That when the Navy first restructured the LCS . They hope having the builder compete early for the contract, they would force them into low cost, fix price contracts.

      The Navy also hope they would prevent the law suit the "early down selection" would cause, as it change the original RFP, by having the loser build five of the winners design.

      The result was as expected, the builders bid for their own designs both came in under Congress's limits. But the cost of creating the second yard did not go as well, The cost of adapting the loser yard to build the winners design was high, so that the unit price of those ships greatly exceed Congress limits. Since this push the average unit cost over the limit, the Navy had to revise the LCS program once again to meet the LCS critics and congress's imposed limit's.

      That why the Navy came up with the current solution to the restrictions, By order from both builders, according to the fix price from the "down selection' process they avoided a lawsuit. The prices summited by the builder meet Congress's requirement. And even though it started production to soon, it save the LCS program form cancelation.

      Now remember that all this was because the critics of the LCS program were using the high cost of the prototypes to bash the program, hoping to kill it before to gain momentum of production.

  3. Yes, the apple bounced off Admiral Clark's head in about 2004, landing some distance from the tree. At which point he asked, "What was that?"

  4. "So far, there are no functional mission modules and no LCS has conducted a deployment related to their intended missions."


    USS FREEDOM deployed to 3rd Fleet in spring 2010 with a Baseline SUW mission module -- and appears to have been successful in its assigned mission of counter-narcotics.

    Whether or not you think the Baseline SUW MP module is useful is debatable. They did manage to catch and board a drug-runner - which is also what frigates deployed to SOUTHCOM do. That's the mission.

    Please note that I am not arguing that they do not need a better SUW module - particulary if they're going to deploy these ships to PACOM.

    Nor do I believe that a SOUTHCOM deployment is a true test of what we want, need, or have been promised from this ship.

    However - to state there are no functional modules and no deployments probably overstates the case.

    1. LCS apologists have an annoying habit of redefining requirements and then loudly proclaiming the success of the LCS in meeting the redefined criteria.

      The original baseline ASuW module was to consist of the various guns and the capability to conduct networked strikes against shore based targets as well as small vessels over a range of 20 miles or so (the cancelled NLOS). The current incarnation of the ASuW module consists of a ship's gun that is ineffective at speed and a pair of guns that have been deemed unreliable by DOT&E. We may as well call a 9mm handgun a baseline ASuW module. These pieces of equipment don't come remotely close to meeting the baseline criteria.

      Read the original module requirements. There are no functional modules.

      Regarding deployments, read the post again. I stated in the post that no LCS has conducted a deployment related to their intended missions. The intended missions were the three that modules are being developed for: ASW, MCM, and ASuW. Anti-drug patrols are not an intended mission. That was made up after it became clear that the LCS could not execute any of its intended missions.

      I'll repeat myself. There are no functional modules and no LCS has conducted a deployment related to their intended missions.

    2. So LCS stopped some drug runners,ok, that's nice. Was that the baseline mission?!? Can LCS do anything else? Because USN has spent a lot of money already and planning to spend a heck of a lot more, I hope that the next LCS will be a little bit more potent....

    3. CNO. I don't consider myself an "LCS apologist" in the least. I just think you have a habit of selectively viewing the facts which support your case.

      As far as modules - do you think that LCS is the first acquisition program which fell short of aspirations at IOC? Perhaps you should read up on the F-14 Tomcat, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and the Spruance destroyer.

      My take is that the original mission modules were aspirational and a much too dependent on high risk R&D. But when I look at what is coming down the pipe shortly, the mission modules appear more conventional and less risky.

      For instance - the ASW module is leveraging very mature technologies (MFTA, VDS, torpedo defense and MH-60R). The sonar system utilizes the same Thales 2087 as British. It should prove fairly effective - if not as sexy as original concept.

      NICO. Pursuing and stopping drug-runners is in the baseline mission. We've used frigates and other small combatants to do that mission for decades - and we're replacing these with LCS.

      I completely agree with you that SOUTHCOM is not a high-end mission. But it is fairly important.

    4. You've just demonstrated that you are the definition of an LCS apologist!

      Anti-drug patrol was never in the original missions. It may be now after the missions have been redefined but that's my point!

    5. I think you're perhaps confusing 'module' with 'mission'. There will always be more mission types then there are configurations of a given ship or aircraft. That's the nature of naval operations.

      If we want to be precise, the Navy categorizes counter-drug operations as a subset of non-combatant operation (NCO).

      I don't have access to the ROC/POE for an LCS. However, I would be extremely surprised if counter-drug operations was not a required operational capability for the LCS from day one.

      And there are indications as far back as the early 2000's that Navy was going to deploy the LCS to SOUTHCOM. By definition, that means counter-drug operations.

      A bit of a sidebar. Frigates were never designed for the counter-drug mission, yet we've been using them as such for quite some time - mainly because they were relatively cheap and available.

      If we didn’t have a relatively inexpensive asset like LCS, we’d either gap the mission or use a more expensive asset like a DDG.

    6. My meaning was crystal clear. No LCS has yet been deployed to do what they were built to do.

    7. Oh, I never doubted your meaning. I just think your understanding of the LCS mission tends to be a bit skewed. I'm trying to be polite.

      LCS are and were meant to do counter-drug operations -- among other missions. The modules are almost irrelevant to that.

      As I said I'm no apologist. I'm just as dissatisfied that the LCS modules are as far behind as you are. However, I'm guardedly optimistic that the ASW and MIW will deliver good capability in short order. And those are the modules the Navy needs the most.

      The SUW module is the one I'm actually least concerned about. Not because of its performance, but because it's the least necessary. The surface community has yet to figure out that there are a heck of a lot better ways to kill small boats than with a ship.

  5. LCS 2 has not even completed its ACCEPTANCE TRIALS. How comical is that?

  6. This is why the US Navy should kill the LCS and go with the Absolon class ship.

    1. The Absolon/IH class ships aren't even in the same category as the LCS. They are for all intents and purposes full bore destroyer class ships displacing over 2x the tonnage as the LCS ships with 2-3x the crew size. They are not in any shape or form reasonable replacements for either the OHP class or LCS class ships.

      If you are advocating replacement of the LCS program, I would suggest that you do it with example ships in the same size range which means you would be talking about small frigates or corvettes. An example would be something like the Formidable-class.

    2. I would simply apply all the concepts of the Absolon/IH class ships and put it into either a Formidable class Frigate or the US Coast Guard's National Security cutter.

    3. Nick has a fixation on conventional hull ships, It is the high speed characteristic that he seem to dislike the most.

      Absolon also has many design short comings that Nick seem to ignore. Her hull was built to civilian standard, based on the design od North Sea Ferries. They "low cost" was mostly due to the use of recycled equipment. It flex deck boat launching system has proven to be very limited. And for a ship that is suppose to act as a troop transport, it is very limited ability to land troops at anything other than a developed port.

      Now the LCS does share many of the same shortcomings, but they are no worst than those of the Absolon.

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    5. That's because the Absalon is basically the same size as a Burke. If we wanted and could afford more burkes, we would buy more burkes. The USN needs a fleet of ships in the 3-4000 ton range, not more ships in the 7-8000 ton range.

  7. Instead of the LCS, the Navy should be building a proper frigate... Example:-

    Class & type: Fletcher Class Frigate (FFG-500)
    Displacement: 5,000 tons
    Length: 140 m
    Beam: 16 m
    Draft: 5.5 m
    Propulsion: 1 x 35MWe General Electric LM2500+G4 gas turbine generator
    1 x 10MWe General Electric LMs-10 steam turbine generator
    1 x 36.5MWe Alsthom Induction Motor
    1 x Rolls-Royce Kamewa SL waterjet (48,947 shp)
    Speed: 30 knots
    Range: 6,000 nm @ 20 knots
    Complement: 14 Officers + 61 Sailors
    Sensors: AN/SPY-3 Multi-Function Radar (X-band fixed AESA arrays)
    AN/SQS-61 High Frequency Sonar
    AN/SQR-20 Multi-function Towed Array Sonar
    Armament: 1 x 57mm Mk110 mod(1) Low Observables Gun
    10 x MK 57 VLS modules; 6 forward / 4 aft of superstructure
    (4 vertical launch cells in each module; 40-cells in total)
    Each Cell can accommodate:-
    1 Tomahawk TLAM
    1 VL-ASROC
    1 Standard SM-6
    1 LRASM
    4 ESSM
    2 x Dual Mk32 324mm torpedo launchers
    (8 Mk46/Mk50/Mk54 Torpedoes carried)
    1 x Auxiliary Weapons Bay at the extreme aft end of the flight deck on the port side
     1 x retractable 21-cell Mk49 RAM launcher (optional)
     1 x Mk36 30mm cannon (optional)
     None (initial USN configuration)
    Aircraft(s): 1 MH-60R helicopter
    Countermeasures 2 x 4-cell ExLS NULKA Decoy launchers
    (at the extreme aft end of the flight deck on the starboard side)
    AN/SLQ-25D Towed Torpedo Decoy

    1. Overview

      The FFG-500 is designed to bridge the gap between the very lightly armed LCS and US navy’s large combatants like the Arleigh Burke, Zumwalt and possible future CG(X) classes. The focus is on delivering a multi-role surface combatant that replaces the Perry Class frigates at a price no more than half that of the Arleigh Burke class and can be operated with a crew of just 75 (1/4 that of the Burkes). The vessels are to be capable of operating alone in medium threat environment or as part of a carrier strike group in a high threat environment. They are to be simultaneously capable of anti-air, anti-surface and anti-submarine missions, and able to keep up with CVSGs.


      In many ways the FFG-500 looks like a scaled down Zumwalt with a wave piercing tumblehome hull. The propulsion, sensor and weapon systems are kept as simple as possible. A cost cap of $900 million per ship was imposed.


      The FFG-500 uses a single GE LM2500+G4 gas turbine which is derived from the Trent commercial turbofan core. It is capable of generating 35 MW of electric power. Given the single turbine propulsion system, and the inefficiencies of a large gas turbine operating at part load during cruise, the exhaust heat is passed over a heat exchanger and used to generate steam for a single GE steam turbine generator. The steam turbine can generate up to an additional 10MWe. This arrangement has the added benefit of greatly reducing exhaust temperature and consequently the infrared signature of the ship. Electricity from the generators is used to power shipboard systems as well as a single electric motor driving a Rolls-Royce Kamewa SL waterjet. The ship can reach 30 knots and have an operation range in excess of 6000 nm @ 20 knots (36% greater than the Arleigh Burke).


      To keep costs down the FFG-500 is equipped with a single multi-function radar system with no backup. The AN/APY-3 X-band radar is taken from the Zumwalt class destroyers. The FFG-500 does not carry the AN/SPY-4 volume search radar. The sonar is a pared down version of the system fielded on the Zumwalt. It carries the same hull mounted SQS-61 high frequency sonar for mine detection and littoral ASW duties. It also carries the SQR-20 towed multi-mode array for blue water ASW operations, but does without the hull mounted SQS-60 medium frequency unit. Supplementing these are passive ESM receivers and secured datalinks which allows it to benefit and contribute shared tracks with other combatants in the action group and it's rotary wing embarkation.


      The Fletcher class carries three discrete counter measure systems. The NULKA off-board counter measure, a towed torpedo decoy and an integral set of active jammers.


      The FFG 500 carries 40 VLS cells in 10 four-cell Mk57 modules. Each is capable of accommodating a large missile like the SM-6, Tomahawk, LRASM or VL-ASROC, or alternatively they can accept a quad pack of ESSM. The gun armament comprises of a single M110 57mm gun in a low observable housing. This basically rounds out the USN weapons load, but the ships also have a retracting auxiliary weapons platform on the extreme aft of the helicopter flight deck which can be used to accommodate a 30mm electro optically targeted gun or a Rolling Air Frame missile launcher. To reduce weather related maintenance and maximize stealth, the auxiliary platform can be lowered below decks under a sliding hatch to be stowed in a weather tight space. The platform can be raised in about 4 seconds to bring the defensive system to bear.

    2. I like your list of specs, but where are they coming from? Is this just your own personal design, or has it been officially proposed somewhere? Either way, I think it would be a great replacement for the LCS.

      One question though - where did the $900 million price tag come from? I have a hard time believing that you could get all this for only $250 million more than an LCS. Do you have any sort of math and accounting to back up that price point?

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