Nice to meet you, wouldn’t want to be you! That’s how Navy officers must be looking at prospective LCS commands these days. LCS command is beginning to look like a one way ticket to career suicide. Two
’s have been fired this year. Given how few vessels are in service and how
very, very few cumulative days at sea have been racked up by the LCS’s, that’s
a staggering firing rate! LCS
“Cmdr. Michael Wohnhaas, who commanded LCS Crew 106, was relieved “due to loss of confidence in his ability to effectively lead and carry out his assigned duties” on Oct. 13 by Commander of Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet (SURFPAC) Vice Adm. Tom Rowden.” (1)
“Cmdr. Michael L. Atwell, formerly the commanding officer of LCS Crew 101, was relieved of his position on Monday as a direct result of the investigation following the Jan. 12 propulsion casualty that has left the ship sidelined in
.” (2) Singapore
It would be one thing if these CO’s were fired for committing a crime or for gross personal misconduct but these officers were fired for no reason other than having the bad luck to be in command when engineering breakdowns occurred – the same breakdowns that have systematically afflicted the LCS class and led to every LCS that has put to sea being sidelined for one problem or another. Six of the seven commissioned LCS’s have experienced engineering breakdowns. In its infinite wisdom, the Navy has concluded that the engineering breakdowns were, somehow, the fault of the command officers. I understand the concept of ultimate responsibility resting with the CO but to blame the Captain for what is clearly a class-wide, systemic problem is insane. All that’s going to do is scare prospective CO’s away from the LCS program!
If the Navy really wanted to affix blame where it belongs and demonstrate a loss of confidence they would fire the person who came up with the minimally manned crew concept that put overworked, overstressed personnel in situations they weren’t prepared to handle. They would fire the person who developed the obviously inadequate training process for LCS engineering personnel. They would fire the person who purchased such complex machinery that the best trained engineers in the Navy (according to the Navy) can’t seem to operate the equipment without screwing it up. They would fire the person who developed a needlessly complex LCS engineering plant. They would fire the person who specified a speed requirement that has no tactical utility but resulted in an overly complex engineering plant. And so on. Unfortunately, the Navy is more interested in PR and scapegoats than actual accountability.
Prospective LCS commanding officers ……. run away !!!
(1)USNI News website, “USS Freedom Crew CO Relieved Of Duty After Investigation Into Engine Damage”, Megan Eckstein,
(2)USNI News website, “USS Fort Worth CO Relieved Over January Propulsion Casualty”, Sam LaGrone,