Arguably, the second most important characteristic of the LCS, after the modular swap capability (now abandoned), is its speed, according to the Navy. This is the Navy’s claim despite the fact that no one seems able to come up with any practical use for the ship’s high speed. The LCS sacrificed much at the altar of speed, as you’ll recall, paying a steep price in weight, margins, internal volume, machinery noise, and fuel consumption. In any event, as the LCS has developed, the vessel has grown heavier and its speed and range have been steadily downgraded. Now we see this from testing reported in the DOT&E 2016 Annual Report:
“LCS 4 failed its sprint speed requirement of 40 knots, demonstrating a maximum sustained speed of only 37.9 knots in calm waters.”
So, the much vaunted speed, which cost the ship so much, can’t even be achieved. You’ll recall original Navy claims that suggested the top speed would be near 50 kts. Now we’re down to 37.9 kts. That’s a horrific price the ship paid for 37.9 kts.
To sum up, the most important characteristic of the LCS, modularity, has been abandoned and the second most important characteristic, speed, can’t be achieved ……. and the Navy wants more of these vessels!
Well, at least the ship can go fast if it ever needs to. Kind of. But not without problems.
“LCS 4 has long-standing problems with her ride control system hardware, including interceptors, fins, and T-Max rudders, that affect the ship’s maneuverability at high speeds. The ship also had reported recurring problems with frequent clogging of the gas turbine engine fuel oil conditioning module pre‑filters and coalescers, and found it difficult to maintain high speed for prolonged periods. The crew found it necessary to station extra operators in the machinery room (normally an unmanned space) to change fuel filters and manually control the fuel oil heaters to keep the gas turbine engines in operation during these high-speed runs.”
I repeat ……. and the Navy wants more of these vessels!