Sunday, September 2, 2018

No LCS Deployments

There are 12 LCS in commission.

Zero will deploy in 2018. (1)

Not much more to be said.


(1)USNI News website, “Navy May Not Deploy Any Littoral Combat Ships This Year
”, Megan Eckstein, 11-Apr-2018,


  1. "Additionally, on the West Coast, where all the Independence-variant ships are homeported, the trimaran hulls require a drydock for virtually any kind of maintenance availability.."

    I'm not Navy so I'm just asking, is this normal that you need a dry-dock for maintenance? Seems a bit excessive, no?

    1. Nope. You should be able to do some work while they are in the water. However the LCS was DESIGNED to be expensive to operate. Cheap on personnel, heavy on money shore side.

  2. Do these vessels have any value to the USCG, assuming they could be made mechanically sound?

    1. Sadly, no. They lack fundamental endurance and range, cost too much to operate, require extensive shore side maintenance that the CG is not set up to provide, require expensive contractor support that the CG can't afford, are too large for most missions and are ill equipped for the remainder, and ... well, I could go on but you get the idea.

    2. The CG also has, IMHO, a better ship with the national security cutter.

      Heck, I'd argue the offshore patrol cutter would offer more simple value than the LCS just because it has similar weapons and better range.

      The LCS is a short legged, under armed, under protected nightmare that can barely perform 1 of 3 designed roles, as, at least as far as I've read, the ASW and MW modules *still* don't work.

    3. Even the Sentinel class seems like you could swap in the Mini Typhoon system for some or all of the manned 50 cal mounts (Missile/Missile-gun or cannon), loose the life saving aspects and have a decent Cyclone replacement. The Cyclone is sort of bolt on able now anyway, with the Griffin and I think just provision training to use a stinger. I cant find any info that its an automated add on but even so it still added recently.

      Although I sure there is some navy rule never to use a CG hull even if could produce a decent small boat and surly cost savings. That being said does the Navy actually have any plan for the replacing the Cyclones seeing as they are kinda useful.

      The Literally not a Combat Ship is sad. I think perhaps even worse than the F-35. Now that the navy has an aggressive plan for a new FF, why still build them at all. I think reality it is a stark comment other countries will take old Hamilton class cutters and Perry class frigates which are both apparently unfit for the US to use (or upgrade), but I really doubt anyone will take an LCS. Even the ever dependable house of Saud is not thinking about buying a straight out of the shipyard extra couple LCS but a heavily modified design.

    4. "why still build them at all."

      They are being built to keep the production lines open for the frigate which will be an LCS-frigate.

    5. Don't say that. If you say it three time it will be true. Or you summon the dark lord of death trap pointless ship design. OK so maybe they won't pick a foreign design but there is still chance they might opt for the NSC based design.

    6. But the navy is building CVs, DDs, Landing ships, a Zumwalt or 2, The CG has a bunch of frigate sized ships building, and the new frigate on a fast track.

      Are you really saying you think the FF competition is a sham? Because I really cannot think any thinking person would could make a logical argument that US naval ship building capacity would atrophy but for not building a ship that cannot even do any job adequate or put out to sea.

      But than again seeing is the US plans on giving only the LCS a decent modern anti-surface missile(*) but not their cruisers I suppose you are likely

      * I'm not sure how I feel about the NSM but its in production and I see no reason why every ship than can bolt on harpoon box is not going to get them right away. Sure I guess there are great hyper sonic missiles in the works. I also get the SM missiles and ESSM can be used as anti ship missiles but then yuo are wasting them on secondary ability.

    7. "Are you really saying you think the FF competition is a sham? Because I really cannot think any thinking person would could make a logical argument that US naval ship building capacity would atrophy but for not building a ship that cannot even do any job adequate or put out to sea."

      It's not even remotely about maintaining the shipbuilding capacity. It's about Congress and jobs. Congress can't afford to be seen allowing any individual shipbuilder to lose jobs. It's that simple.

      The Navy has already decided, due to jobs, that the "winner" of the frigate competition will be the LCS version. Hence, the extra LCS to keep the production line (and jobs) open.

      Do you understand now?

    8. I can accept your argument and even believe it. Its rather depressing as far as I can tell the LCS frigates will simply not credible frigates nor even really have the capacity to grow into one.

      Congress can be misguided or simply as individuals respond to local district parochialism. It should be the USNs job to frankly admit the scope of LCS mistake and kill it and hold out the prospect of jobs building a new frigate (and maybe a new mine warfare ships and other small dedicated vessels). Seeing as all the non LCS ships are in production ships it not like congress has to wait 30 years for new ships and jobs.

    9. "It should be the USNs job to frankly admit the scope of LCS mistake and kill it and hold out the prospect of jobs building a new frigate"

      You've got it right.

  3. Think of all the money we will save on fuel!

    1. No deployments just means they arent going offhsore for longer periods in the usual overseas locations. Doesnt mean they arent going to sea.... but even thats not a given.

  4. I've written about this before, but the LCS fleet could be used for disaster relief in the US and Caribbean region. They have many features making them good for this:

    - high speed- get to the disaster area quickly.
    - large storage facilities. More so for the Independence which has a massive flight deck, which you can set up a host of other facilities or simply more cargo containers.
    - can provide military spec power production and communication gear.
    - many flooded areas are quite shallow, making them pseudo littoral....what does the "L": in LCS stand for?
    - there are many of them. They can surround a hot spot and deliver food, water search for survivors, from many directions.


  5. What are he odds the Navy doubles down on an LCS + as FF(X)

    1. /Snark

      Wrong thing to do? Check.
      Even shorter range? Check.
      Lots of lobbying support? Check.
      Easy way to get new shiny hulls? Check.

      Perfect Navy ship!

      /Snark off.

  6. It is worth noting that the number of LCS ships that are deployable is limited. There are 30 ships in service, under construction, or under contract.

    The first two of each variant will form a training division used to support mission module testing. The remaining ships are supposed to be organized into 4-ship divisions with 1 ship in each division reserved for training. But, with 13 ships of each variant left, let's assume 2 divisions of 4 ships and 1 division of 5 ships. That leaves 20 ships available for deployment. This is absolutely NUTS!

  7. The more I think about it, the more it seems like using them as ASW platforms is the least bad option. The key would be developing the use of 11m RHIBs in ASW so as to make use of the lower mission bays (although RHIBs in ASW detection should be pursued regardless of the LCS). The same dipping sonar helos use could be modified to work with RHIBs and greatly increase loitering time compared to helos. The ship's speed also gives it a fighting chance to outrun torpedoes as well.

    1. "use of 11m RHIBs in ASW"

      How do you see these being used? Relative to ASW, which is performed dozens of miles from the high value target, a RHIB has no range, no edurance, no seakeeping, and no payload capacity. What did you have in mind?

    2. There's the Common Unmanned Surface Vessel coming out. I recall USNI talk of CUSV being equipped with towed arrays and I believe testng with MFTA has already begun, the idea being that you would deploy a number of these dne boats to do ASW and MCM sweeps.

      Given range is 1000+ nautical miles, or 24 hours endurance.

    3. "talk of CUSV being equipped with towed arrays"

      This is idiotic in the extreme (the Navy concept, not you). Have you thought this through? For example, if an unmanned boat is going to pull a towed array (set aside the stress and strain that has been demonstrated on major ships from pulling towed arrays) how will the data get to anyone who can analyze/use it? If we're going to send the data back to a ship for analysis then we're taking about a continuous, high bandwidth transmission - not a good idea in combat. If we think some kind of CUSV on-board little computer is going to replicate the analytical capabilities of an entire ASW suite on a ship then we're just off in fantasy land.

      And so on.

      Consider the breathtaking scope of claims for Zumwalt, LCS, F-35, Ford, and so on - all of which have failed badly. Now, do you think the breathtaking claims for a small boat pulling a (probably mini) array are going to pan out?

    4. I am not sold on the unmanned aspect of this, but I do believe the same dipping sonar used by helos can be used by RHIBs/small boats. Somehow the navy has to figure out how to multiply their submarine detection capability without a) putting large ships in harms way, or b) using aircraft that cost $25k+ an hour.

    5. I myself am not entirely sold on the idea of unmanned ASW systems, because someone still needs to interpret the data at the end of the day, unless you're going to be lazy and say "fuckit going loud."

      As for high bandwidth comms, I know the Office of Naval Research is exploring lasercomm systems, but AFAIK that's still in preliminary stages and it's going to take a while before tactical lasercomm systems are going to be a working, mature thing. (and of course there's the obvious challeng in aligning your transmitter laser and receiver dish between two ships in motion with wave action.)

    6. "I do believe the same dipping sonar used by helos can be used by RHIBs/small boats."

      How would the data from the dipping sonar be analyzed? In a helo, the data is analyzed by dedicated operators at computer stations. Do you envision an operator sitting at a computer station in an open, pitching boat with the computer being drenched with salt water?

      Have you seen the mechanical hoists and whatnot associated with a dipping sonar? I don't know what it weighs or the exact dimensions but it's bigger than you probably think.

      Go look at some photos of the entire dipping sonar system, consider the data analysis needs, and then see if you still think the idea is feasible.

    7. @Wild Goose: I've had some experience with laser network links and they are very unreliable. They are strict line of sight systems. Fog, smoke or any intervening object blocks the signal. And as you point out, they have to be perfectly aligned. Plus, the transmitter and the receiver have to be within visual range of each other. A brief Google search ( indicates that laser links are limited to ~2km. Maybe a milspec device could do better, but it's not going to be orders of magnitude better.

    8. I still think it's feasible. It could be a scaled down version to the point where the data could be transmitted (just like in sonobuoys). It also doesn't have to be a RHIB. It isn't as if you would just throw the needed equipment in the passenger seat and strap it down. You could make something on a 11m RHIB platform but with a cabin. It could be bigger as well, as long as it could be hoisted into an LCS.

    9. "I still think it's feasible."

      Perhaps it is. This blog is all about data. If you think the concept is feasible, go get some data. Get the weight and volume of the helo dipping sonar winch system. Get the helo sonar data analysis computer system size, weight, and number of operators. Get the power supply requirements for the system (power is one of those mundane requirments that people so often overlook - a RHIB has very little power for systems!), get the RHIP cargo weight capacity and crew size, and so on. Get all that and see if it "fits" into a RHIB. If it does then it's feasible. If not, it isn't. Either way, you'll know. Share the results with us.

      My suspicion is that the overall weight, volume, power, and manning requirements preclude a dipping sonar from a small boat.

    10. Fair Enough. See below.

      Also, I don't think the RHIB is the restriction so much as the ability of the LCS to hoist a smaller boat in the cargo bay. If a larger boat can be accommodated by teh LCS, it should be. There are also some interesting tech advances (i.e. gyroscopic stabilization) related to small boats that might make it easier to do the analysis on the boat itself.

      The whole system weighs 600 lbs, unless I am missing something.
      Transmitter - 100 lbs
      Reel and Cable - 144 lbs
      Reeling machine - 159 lbs
      Transducer - 176 lbs
      Reel Control Unit - 5 lbs
      Reel Interface Unit - 13 lbs

      That makes sense to me because the internal payload capacity of a Seahawk is approximately 4,100 lbs, and it carries the system, at least one operator, sonobouys, and a torpedo.

      Payload capacity of 11m RHIB looks to be 3200 lbs or 11 men.

      The dipping sonar has an average cost of $3-$3.5 million per unit

      As I said, you could amend the system as needed. The point is to get submarine detection from platforms that don't cost $25k+ per hour to operate.

    11. Joey Franks, excellent start on your concept! So, it appears that a RHIB (or small boat) could accommodate a dipping system as far as weight is concerned. I'm guessing the volume could also fit.

      What about power requirements versus what's available from a RHIB? That might be a sticking point.

      Now, in addition to physical feasibility, there's the question of operational concept. For example, could a RHIB effectively reposition from one location to another in a sufficiently timely manner? For comparison, helos reposition at 100 mph or so.

      Where do these boats operate from? How many would be on a host ship? How far out from the host ship do they operate and how long do they take to get there (response time)? And so on.

      In other words, think through a viable Concept of Operations and let me know what you think.

      Great start!

    12. If only the Navy had a Twin Engine, slow, long legged aerial platform that could orbit and area and control the RHIB Drones and then prosecute the targets they find and fix. We could call it The Viking!

    13. Thanks for the vote of confidence!

      I think the way they can be used is going to depend largely on a sub’s ability to detect them and at what range. I know their engines are quieter than those of ships, but I would think the higher sound pitch of the smaller engines might have a signature that is easily recognizable and detectable by submarines. Maybe outboard engines reduce the sound transferred below the surface? I don’t really know to be honest. My suspicion is, submarines will always know small boats are there before the small boats are ever able to detect the submarine. That doesn’t mean they have no value, it just means they would have to be used in different ways than helicopters, which have the element of surprise.

      With regards to platform, I think something like the Coast Guard Long Range Interceptor is just about perfect in terms of size and range. It cruises as 35 kts (with a top speed of 45 kts), has a range of 400 miles, and has an enclosed cabin.

      At 35kts/40mph, it would have 40% of the roaming speed of a helicopter with at least four times the loitering capacity. Oh, and it cost pennies on the dollar to operate compared to the helo on a per hour basis.

      You could operate four from an LCS ship which also would have two helos. For a carrier group, you could have three LCS ships.

      That would give you a formidable and adaptable ASW detection capability and let the LCS ships fill an important (and lacking) role. The LCS isn’t perfect for the role, but the speed is actually really helpful when trying to put space between it and a pursuing torpedo. If they can get the VDS or towed array working for the LCS, it also would add more traditional ASW detection to the total ASW package. The LCS point air defense is a good fit as well since the ships will probably sometimes work well ahead of the carrier group and therefore outside the umbrella air cover it provides.

      So, if the small ASW boats can’t be easily tracked by subs, I would use them largely in the ways helos are used. Random sampling of large areas to sanitize areas from submarines. If they can be detected, I think you have to use them in greater concert with more of a herding approach.

    14. The CGLRI looks fine and I kind of like the LCS as a host vessel except for the fact that the LCS hasn't got the range or endurance for this. It might be better to go with a commercial variant of a general purpose cargo vessel just big enough to hold/launch/recover however many boats you envision using. A commercial vessel could have great range and endurance though not speed.

      "I would use them largely in the ways helos are used. Random sampling of large areas"

      You might want to read up on ASW tactics a bit. Helos aren't generally used to generate initial contacts. They're used to respond to contacts generated by other platforms. The reason is that their sensors are very short range. A dipping sonar has a very short range and small coverage area. As you suggest, random sampling using a very short range sensor just won't provide the coverage needed, barring dumb luck.

      Typically, contacts are initiated by the screening frigates/destroyers with their towed arrays in passive mode. Helos are then directed to the suspect contact to verify and pin it down. Your boats could be used the same way but that then goes back to the response time question.

      Even a picket line (herding) might not work unless you had a LOT of boats. You might want to do the arithmetic on this. If each dipping sonar has a 2 mile useful range (to make up a number), you'd need 25 boats to cover a 50 mile front. Recall that a carrier group is spread over 50 miles or so, so that's the kind of frontage you'd be dealing with. You might want to try to find some actual dipping sonar detection ranges - very difficult to come by! - and use them for the arithmetic.

      This also raises the issue of rate of advance. If a group is advancing at, say, 25 kts, the searching boats would have to maintain an average (sprint/drift) rate of advance of 25 kts, also. Given the time required to lower, listen, and raise the sonar, could this kind of rate of advance be achieved?

      I'm not trying to knock down your concept, just trying to help you evaluate whether it's sound (no pun intended). I very much enjoy this kind of thought exercise and I hope you do, too, regardless of whether you ultimately conclude it's viable or not. Keep thinking the concept through and let me know what you come up with!

    15. "You might want to do the arithmetic on this."

      You may want to do the arithmetic again :). You are double counting boats. If the range is two miles, than you would need two boats to cover an unbroken line of eight miles (since range in this case equals radius, and you don't need any detection area to overlap. So, you would place two boats four miles apart and their detection area would span eight miles from end to end with no gaps.

      Your point is still taken though. You would need 12-13 boats to cover a 50 mile front without gaps if the range of the dipping sonar is two miles.

      I was working under the assumption that the latest and greatest dipping sonar has a range of 8 miles and the hull sonar on a Burke has a range of 70 miles (via "Command: Modern Air and Naval Operations" video game/simulator).

      Yeah, I enjoy the thought exercise as well and appreciate your feedback. I have done all the calculations and can share with you. Lets settle on a reasonable detection range for the dipping sonar and then I will layout all the numbers.

    16. "You are double counting boats."

      Oops! That's why I suggested that you do the math!

      I have no idea what a realistic dipping sonar detection range is and, likely, there are no realistic values in the public domain - they'd be classified. I know the range is "short" and my 2 mile estimate was gleaned from various hints I've come across over the years. I couldn't argue strongly for or against any particular value.

      I do note, however, that most claims for range (of anything - weapons, sensors, you name it) are maximum values under ideal conditions. For example, you might well be able to detect a sub at 8 miles with good acoustic conditions and if the sub was moving at speed and so on. The detection range is likely to be much less for "average" realistic conditions.

      Whatever detection range number you think is valid, I'd halve that for realistic use.

      The exact number is almost irrelevant for this kind of conceptual discussion. We recognize that we would need a "lot" of boats so we can move right on to examining whether we can provide a constant stream of, say, 8-12 boats. Remember, to maintain continuous coverage of 8-12 boats, we'd need triple that number available to allow for maintenance, refueling, rearming, recovery time, etc. So, how can we transport/assemble 24-36 boats? Two boats per LCS, for example, leaves us well short of our needs for a major surface group unless we're going to use 12-18 LCS in the escort. That's doable but the logistics of keeping that many LCS fueled is daunting! This might bring us back to the commercial boat "carrier" that could, potentially, carry all the required boats if that was its designed purpose.

      Just a reminder - take a look at the rate of advance issue, too. The time to position, lower, listen, raise, and reposition may not support the desired rate of advance. Remember, passive listening requires time for a signal to develop. Something on the order of 30 min to lower, listen, and raise might be in the realm of appropriate. Does that leave enough time to reposition to maintain a given rate of advance?

      I'm sure you know that a hull sonar detection range of 70 miles is passive, convergence zone detection and is a maximum under ideal conditions - my earlier note about range. It is quite likely that detection range would be much less if acoustic conditions are anything but ideal. A quiet sub taking advantage of thermoclines and running slowly might not be detected until very short range, if at all. ASW exercises with Burkes have consistently shown that detecting a sub at all is very difficult and detection ranges are very short compared to the theoretical maximum (hence, my 2 mile dipping sonar estimate).

      The overall point is, pick any range you like but I urge a degree of reasonable conservatism! The bigger issues are transporting/servicing the number of boats and the rate of advance.

    17. I think those are good points. Let’s call it three miles and use that for our estimates.

      Below I will lay out a few different ways I think these boats could be used successfully. But first, here are the assumptions I am making in addition to a three-mile detection range for dipping sonars.

      I am going to work under the assumption that we are still trying to find a use for the LCS and so our numbers and strategies will cater to that. I will also assume each LCS ship can operate four of our small boats, and for ASW duty the LCS ships will work in teams of three. So a carrier group would have three LCS ships, or a sub-hunting action group would also have the same. I am going to assume the LCS is simply a mothership, though in truth it seems reasonable that it could operate the small boats and operate a large towed array or VDS itself. We will also assume each LCS has two embarked helos, but these will not figure into our calculations either. Instead, they will only be used for prosecution of detected subs. This should sufficiently makeup for any overly optimistic estimates in the range of the dipping sonar. I envision the small boats would operate four at a time for 12 hour shifts. This allows four small boats to be on-station continuously (since we have 3 LCS ships).

      Within this framework, let’s me suggest a three possible ways they could be used.

      1. “Plowing”
      2. Bodyguard formation
      3. Random sampling

      Plowing is the most foundational in understanding the area coverage possibilities, so let’s start there. In this scenario, we are going to line up our four boats 6 miles apart to form an unbroken detection chain of 24 miles. This could be to operate out in front of a carrier group, or if you wanted to sanitize a specific area. I estimate from the moment you begin to deploy the dipping sonar to the moment you have it stored for travel is 5 minutes (active sonar only). Further, lets assume it takes 1 minute of transition time (i.e. standstill to cruise speed; cruise speed to standstill). If our dipping sonar has a range of 3 miles, we would need to travel 6 miles to get to a completely new area touching our first search area but with no overlap. At 40 mph, this means we can dip, travel, and be ready to dip again in a new area in 15 minutes. Let’s call this a dipping cycle. So, each small boat is capable of a dipping cycle every 15 minutes, or 4 every hour. Being stopped for 6 minutes and cruising at 40 mph for 9 minutes gives an average sustained speed of 24 miles per hour.

    18. However, this is a little bit faster than our line can actually sustain if we don’t want gaps in our search area. To ensure we are covering almost all the area within our search zone, the boats are going to have to operate in a slight zig-zag formation. If they simply went in strait lines, we could sustain a 24 mile wide line at 24 mph, but there would be unsearched areas of approximately 19% of the area you were searching. Going in a zig-zag pattern allows those large areas in between circles to be all but eliminated. Our width would remain at 24 miles, but our actual forward speed would be decreased by approximately .9375. So, our sustained forward speed of the 24 mile wide detection line would be ~22 mph. This is a reasonable cruise speed for the fleet but much slower than flank speed. So, this tactic could only be used when the carrier group is at cruise speed.

      This would not stretch over the 50 miles you suggested, but it would stretch quite far and give you strong confidence that a sub could not slip through that line (since they are using active sonar instead of merely passive sonar).

      Another way to utilize a plow technique is with more of an offensive mindset. The technique is the same, but overall search area becomes more important than sustained speed. With all the same math, our four boats could check an area 24 miles wide by 264 (12 hours x 22 mph) long. That is an area of approximately 6300 square miles in a 12 hour shift, or roughly the size of Connecticut. That is not bad at all for a few upgraded RHIBs. It also means over the course of a week you could search almost every square mile with active sonar in an area slightly larger than the area of Utah (88,700 sq miles)! Or, you could just search the entire Connecticut-sized area every 12 hours. I would envision this kind of diligence as helpful in high threat/high traffic areas instead of just the open ocean, but it could be used there as well.

      So, “plowing” is the first way I think these boats could be effective. To be fair though, I also think it is not the best use of them. Using 300-500 ton ships in a similar fashion would allow for much larger sonar equipment with much larger areas of detection, while still keeping the ships small enough to be confident a sub would not reveal its position to sink it. They could also utilize active sonar and be maintained by a tender ship.

      The second way I envision the small boats being used is by using the same formations and speed estimates, but in a box formation around high value ships/groups/carrier groups. This is where your commercial ship becomes more relevant, because unless you are willing to have your box be 6 x 6 miles, you need more boats to continuously operate it. 12 small boats would allow you to sustain a 6 x 6 mile box. 24 small boats would allow you to sustain a 9 x 9 mile box. And, 36 small boats would allow you to sustain a box of 24 x 24 miles. A box 6 x 6 miles still allows a sub to get within torpedo range of the capital ship, and therefore IMO wouldn’t be overly helpful. To use this technique well, you would probably need much larger motherships (like a Haskell-class ship). This is still very feasible and has some advantages, but I will leave this one to your imagination for now since it ditches the LCS ships.

    19. This brings us to the third technique, which I believe to be the most effective. Using the boats to randomly sample a large area. As an example, let’s say we want to use our three LCS ships to work within a 100 mile range of a carrier. That is an area of 31,400 square miles (100 miles[squared] x pi [3.14]), or approximately the size of South Carolina. One small boat has a detection area per dipping cycle of around 28 square miles. So, if there is a submarine operating in an area roughly the size of South Carolina, and we let one of our small boats randomly dip in that area, there is around a 1 in 1121 (or .09%) chance the small boat will get lucky and have stumbled upon the submarine. Those odds aren’t very good. But remember, we have four small boats and they get 4 dipping cycles per hour. One dip from one boat is a needle in a haystack, but four dips from four boats per hour for twelve hours is another story. That amount of dipping means, if a submarine operated in that 100 mile radius for just 12 hours, there would be approximately a 23% chance one of our small boats detects it. 23% might not seem great if the sub is hellbent on trying to sink the carrier, but that isn’t how subs operate. They aren’t assassins who sprint to the target. They are effective because they can linger for long periods without a reasonable threat of detection.

      In my view, taking away the loitering ability of subs would be devastating to their effectiveness. Having a metaphorical South Carolina with your carrier at the center is a huge area to restrict. In fact, it doesn’t even require subs to be in an aggressive posture. Even if a submarine is not moving, a carrier group (at cruise speed) with a 100 mile radius that just happens to roll over the area of the sub means the sub could spend anywhere between 1 and 10 hours in the detection zone. So if you are a submarine minding your own business and happen to be unlucky enough to spend even 4 hours within 100 miles of a carrier (that you probably would not even know is there), there is a 5% chance you will be detected.

      It would also practically mean that submarines could not shadow carrier groups. They simply couldn’t afford the risk. Whereas without the small boats a submarine might be able to stay within 20 miles of a carrier and have no real risk of detection, with small boats shadowing for even a 24 hour period would mean there is nearly a 50/50 chance you would be detected (and probably sunk by the quickly dispatched helos from our LCS ships).

      So there you have it. 3 LCS ships and 12 small boats can make it incredibly dangerous for submarines to operate within 100 miles of a carrier or other high value target. That is a tremendous value and one the navy should be utilizing.

    20. Your analysis and concept of operations is pretty decent!

      A couple of points to consider.

      1. Your concept is predicated on absolutes - ie, if the sub is within the sonar detection range it WILL be detected. Real life has shown, repeatedly, that that is not the case. Thermoclines hide subs. Anechoic tiles absorb active sonar waves. Background acoustic noise masks subs. Operators consistently simply miss seeing the sound returns (a strong reason for and why sonar operators tend to linger and listen for a bit rather than dip, initiate a single ping, and leave!). And so on. Based on no actual data other than reading about many exercise results, I'd wildly guess that 80% of possible sub contacts are not actually detected. So, all that said, how do you factor less than perfect detection into the concept of operations? The standard means of compensating is to take more time listening, slow the rate of advance, apply a greater than minimum number of search assets, etc.

      2. Your dip time cycle seems hugely optimistic. Again, I have no actual data but reading about exercises suggests a much longer cycle time. Do you have any manufacturer's winch deployment time data as a starting point?

      3. The line abreast method induces a systematic pattern that a sub could time and take advantage of to slip past. A sub at 3.0001 miles would be undetected and when the RHIB pulled up its sonar and advanced, the sub would only have to move to a matter of feet to be just outside the next dip sensor area. Again, this is compensated for by overlapping and randomizing search areas.

      4. A random search, as you describe it, is not actually random, if I understand you correctly. You're envisioning a "random" search that never repeats a search area (maybe I'm misunderstanding you?). If this is the case, then, again, a sub would simply have to listen for a somewhat nearby search and then move to that area, confident that it would never be searched again. It could, over time as more search areas are eliminated, move from one to the next and make its way to its target. If the search truly is random then some areas will be searched more than once and many overlaps will occur. This is fine but it takes more time.

    21. Here's some dip time data from a Jane's article.

      " FLASH has an optimised reeling and control system that gives the wet
      end maximum descent and ascent rates of 4.5 m/sec and 9 m/sec respectively. This translates into a dip
      cycle time at 700 m that is no greater than that of HELRAS down to 450 m."

      From what I understand, 100-700m are common dip depths. For a common depth of 500m, the descent time at 4.5m/s would be 111 sec. The ascent time at 9m/s would be 56 sec. Thus, the dip/retrieve time would be 167 sec (2.8 minutes). Add in the ping/listening time and you'll have the total. As I said, typical practice is to spend several minutes or more pinging/listening. So the total dip cycle (ignoring transit time) would be on the order of 10 minutes or more.

      Here's the link to the article: Dipping Sonar

      There is actually a fair amount of papers available on the Internet on sonar search theory and patterns. You might enjoy them and they can help you refine your concept.

    22. Regardless, your concept has more than enough potential to merit study and experimentation by the Navy. Hopefully, someone will read this and look into it.

    23. “Your analysis and concept of operations is pretty decent!”


      “Your concept is predicated on absolutes”

      True, I explained it in a matter of fact way when it will be anything but.

      “I'd wildly guess that 80% of possible sub contacts are not actually detected. So, all that said, how do you factor less than perfect detection into the concept of operations?”

      I think the third use (random sampling) I suggested lends itself to accommodating the inaccuracy. If you are trying to use these boats to prevent subs getting close to your capital ships, that is a tall order. I prefer to see them as one additional layer of detection/protection among many others.

      “Your dip time cycle seems hugely optimistic.”

      My time assumptions might be optimistic, but I don’t think wildly so. One of the links I previously posted said the extend/retract time for the actual module was less than 5 seconds. That plus your cable up and cable down time means you could have a couple of minutes to listen. Even adding another 5 minutes for listening doesn't slow you down that much in terms of dip cycles.

      “The line abreast method induces a systematic pattern that a sub could time and take advantage of to slip past. A sub at 3.0001 miles would be undetected and when the RHIB pulled up its sonar and advanced, the sub would only have to move to a matter of feet to be just outside the next dip sensor area.”

      Being systematic does create the possible problem of tracking, but I don’t think “gaming” the pattern is as easy as you make it sound. As the submarine, you don’t have the advantage of knowing all the information. For instance, you don’t know the actual range of the dipping sonars. You don’t know when you have been detected and when you haven’t. You don’t know the pattern the boats are working out of. You don’t know how many boats are even searching. And if you are wrong about any of this, it is probably going to be the end for your sub. I don’t think most sub commanders are willing to play such a high stakes game without significant upside. Even if they could answer some of the questions I posed confidently, it is still going to be a lot of work and incredibly stressful to play cat-and-mouse with a bunch of RHIBs. I think more likely, the sub would hear the increase in active sonar and realize the risk of being detected just increased drastically. At that point, they probably would call it a day and get the heck out of there.

    24. “A random search, as you describe it, is not actually random”

      The numbers were simply a way to use probability to model the odds of detecting a submarine. But for what its worth, I did account for re-searching the same areas in my calculation. As an illustration, it would be akin to having 1120 ping pong balls in a hopper, with one being a different color, and drawing with your eyes closed. If you don’t get the colored ball, you put the ball you just drew back into the hopper (meaning you could possibly draw that same one again), mix them up, and draw again. I said “random” because I am trying to neutralize the effects of the submarine strategizing in my model. So don’t get too focused on the details of the random search. There are bound to be strategies and tactics that make more sense than random searching. My point was simply to show that even searching that is not strategic can be powerful in sufficient numbers.

      No matter how they might be used, my basic premise is that we make detecting subs harder than it has to be because we make it much more expensive than it has to be. This is because we only give ourselves two options: Option 1 – Put a 3000+ ton ship at an immediate disadvantage and in harms way; or Option 2 – Spend $35k per hour in operating cost because we insist on using incredibly expensive platforms (helos and P-8s) to deploy sonar equipment. I have got to believe having essentially that same equipment available at approximately 1% of the per hour operating cost is really valuable. The X’s and O’s of how is probably above my pay grade anyway.

      Still, thanks for the article and data points. And, I appreciate you helping me think the concept through.

      “Regardless, your concept has more than enough potential to merit study and experimentation by the Navy. Hopefully, someone will read this and look into it.”

      Nice! If they use my idea, do you think they will send me some kind of finder’s fee?!?! :)

    25. "the extend/retract time for the actual module was less than 5 seconds."

      Does that sound plausible to you? An object on a tether can sink 500 m through a viscous liquid in 5 sec?! That's 100m/s (223 miles/hr through water!!!!!!)!!!!!!! Holy supercavitation, Batman!

      How deep was that 5 sec deploy? I didn't read the link. Could you have misunderstood it?

    26. "it is still going to be a lot of work and incredibly stressful to play cat-and-mouse with a bunch of RHIBs."

      That's exactly what submarine warfare is! You might want to read some of the US WWII submarine books that describe exactly that kind of long, deliberate stalking of a target and maneuvering to get around the escorts.

      If we're using active sonar then, yes, the sub will eventually know where every one is and what their pattern is.

    27. "my basic premise ... ship ... (helos and P-8s)"

      Your basic premise is quite correct in multiple ways. Once upon a time, we performed ASW just like we perform AAW - in layers. We had escort ships using passive, convergence zone sonar for very long detection. S-3 Vikings performed medium/long range search. Helos performed close/medium range search and reaction. Escorts also performed close/medium range search and helo control. P-3's also assisted where possible.

      Now, we have only Burkes, who are tied to AAW and generally ineffective at ASW, and helos.

      Though you didn't explicitly say it, your RHIB concept is an implicit attempt at an additional layer and, as such, is well worth examination regardless of the exact operating details. The more layers we can apply to ASW, the better.

    28. There's one other practical concern with this concept and that is crew endurance. You're postulating long boat sorties (12 hrs). In any kind of sea state at all, the crew of a small boat is going to quickly become fatigued and seasick. From experience, a small boat pitching continuously quickly becomes unpleasant! In particular, the impact on the concentration of the system operator/analyst will be significant. The sortie length might have to be decreased (which increases the number of boats/crews needed). Alternatively, this is an argument for unmanned but then you have the issue of data transmission/analysis which brings its own set of problems.

    29. “An object on a tether can sink 500 m through a viscous liquid in 5 sec?!“

      No, no, read it again. The 5 seconds is to expand and contract the module IN ADDITION to the time it takes to get to depth and bring it back.

      “That's exactly what submarine warfare is!”

      Yes, but that is a lot more boats to keep track of, And fewer boats you can actually sink. With my random sampling scenario, a sub is not going to have the benefit of creeping around waiting to strike at its leisure. They would have to change the way they operate, and it would be less effective and more dangerous no matter how they adapt.

      On crew endurance, I agree that is going to be a problem. Don’t have a great answer for that, except maybe some hazard pay? Haha.

      You could consider having 2 of the 4 boats be unmanned. They could have a dummy dipping sonar but one that makes the same active sonar ping. They couldn’t detect subs, but submarines won’t know that. The sub would have to take them seriously because the two manned boats are fully capable of detecting the sub. Then you have twice the crew for 2 of the 4 boats. Just an idea.

  8. Best use for lcs hmmm let's see target practice comes to mind but seriously used in the anti narco trafficking role would probably be their most valuable also was mentioned disaster relief also have heard of a hospital type Mash role and mine sweeping being mentioned tose should be its only roles

    1. Awfully expensive to operate even in just those roles. The shore side maintenance requirement is mind-boggling in complexity and cost.

    2. Well, the Japanese are pursuing their own MCM LCS concept, and if you look at other navies around the world, particularly Southeast Asia, you see a lot of people going for LCS-style ships: at the end of the day there is nothing inherently flawed in the idea of an ASW or ASuW corvette - China alone has 40 Type 056 corvettes built and in service, and has plans to eventually have 60 of the ships. On the other hand, it's also important to note that everyone else with corvettes is going for purpose built designs - for example the Type 056 ASuW corvette and Type 056A ASW corvette share the same hull and many systems, but the latter is permanently fitted out as an ASW ship from the get-go.

      The problem in LCS is in *implementation* and while modularity and swapping between ASuW, ASW and MCM as the needs of the war require seems like a good idea, in reality you only get good at something if you keep practicing it. There's another factor that like Zumwalt, LCS is a product of the time it was conceived in, where the percentage threat in the minds of USN planners was Iranian Boghammers and Iranian mining shutting down the Strait of Hormuz.

      If nothing else though, you need to get LCSes deployed to counterpiracy ops to relieve the workload on the DDGs. You don't need a Burke to do counterpiracy and VBSS - the LCS will do that just well enough, freeing up said Burke to be used for carrier escort, BMD, srsface blue water ASuW combat.

    3. As for shoreside maintennance, that boils down to doctrine and your posture and what you want to get out of your assets. The Singaporean Navy, for instance, has a good number of decently armed patrol vessels and are pursuing their own LCS design, and their stealth frigates and LPDs use a lot of automation to reduce crew size, because they're always struggling with manpower issues. They bite the bullet and pay more on dockside maintennance and do a lot more things dockside that the USN would do underway, because that's the sacrifice they make to be able to maintain fighting crews on their limited manpower pool.

    4. The problem with the LCS is the LCS

      You may be able to make a decent, useful, warship at 3000t.

      But the LCS isn't it.
      No amount of hopes and payers can solve the fact that it's primary ability is to sustain 40knots for a few hours, a useless ability

    5. "As for shoreside maintennance, that boils down to doctrine and your posture and what you want to get out of your assets. "

      No, it really doesn't unless your only application is peacetime use. Think through how the LCS' requirement for pierside maintenance every two weeks and more extensive pierside maintenance every six weeks or so will play out in a war and then tell me whether the LCS maintenance model is just an either/or arbitrary decision about which way to do it.

    6. I'm not sure how that contradicts my point in any way, which was that whether you can make things work for you, or whether you should make things work for you, is going to be a matter of doctrine and shaped by your constraints.

      Singapore works with dockside maintenance because it lets them make up fighting crews with their limited manpower, and if a ship cruises for 2 weeks and then spends another 2 weeks in dock, you can make that fit with reservist cycles. You have a point about the long war, but the fact for Singapore is that they literally can't afford a long war: a wartime mobilisation and calling up the reserves means that their economy dies in 2 weeks - and that's without taking into account repairing war damage.

      Of course, that's not the US context, but I just wanted to throw out that extra perspective there as some fodder for thought.

      For LCS, I would rather have gone with larger, permanent crews: if we can come up with Blue and Gold crews of 70+ people each, then surely we can come up with a single 100+ crew permanently assigned to said LCS. Larger crew size means doing more work on the ship underway instead of pierside, and permanent crews have that sense of ownership to the boat. I think the only time Blue/Gold crews have not had an issue has been SSBNs - because if you don't take care of an SSBN underwater, you will die, so that tends to focus one's mind, IMO.

    7. For what the Navy says it wants; presence missions, the ability to work with other navy's, distributed lethality, ASW, MIW..... the LCS fits none of them well. None.

      * It's got the huge engines for speed it doesn't need for those missions. Speed that will, I think, get steadily reduced due to weight increases.

      * It has mission modules that don't work, at least not yet.

      * It has short range, and a contractor support system, meaning the logistics chain is going to be large for what you get out of it.

      * It has water jets, and from what I've read no quieting. I have no idea how that is going to play out with ASW.

      * It has a flight deck that is ? strong

      I just don't see what it brings to the table. For what the Navy says it wants it would be better, and likely a lot cheaper, to bring just 3 different hulls.

      For a presence mission, if that's what you really want, just make it cheap and long ranged.

      For ASW, I always liked the idea of a flower class type; but maybe with more quieting. it has to be cheap enough to be an attrition unit that we will actually use, but effective. The only way to do that I think is to focus on the mission.

      Finally, MIW is MIW and shouldn't be an afterthought.

    8. What did the Perry Class ships cost? I’m not a Navy guy but weren’t they the gold standard in versatility for a couple decades?

    9. Wiki says they were $122 million. Plug that into an inflation calculator and it comes out to about $400 million today.

      This isn't perfect, some things today may legit cost more, and contractor mergers haven't helped, but its a decent rule of thumb.

    10. "I'm not sure how that contradicts my point in any way"

      You've failed to grasp the operational aspects of the LCS in war. The LCS requires biweekly pierside maintenance. Where is that going to come from? We have no secure bases that could provide that maintenance during a war. A base close enough to support an LCS in war would be so close to the "front" that it wouldn't survive a day. The LCS' short legs dictate a very close base.

      The LCS has zero use in a war other than patrolling some far, far away backwater.

      The examples you cite are not even remotely comparable. Singapore, for example, will operate its ships in its home waters, near its own ports (for as long as they both last!). The same holds true for every other country that has opted to build short legged, LCS-ish patrol ships.

      You need to grasp the naval operational art of war! Hint: it's all about logistics! You need to think logistically and operationally which, in the end, are the same thing.

    11. @Jim Whall: i've seen figures that put the cost of a Perry today at 780 million dollars - i'll link them later when i'm not on my phone,

      @ComNavOps: Freedom does 3500 nautical miles, Independence does 4000, Burke does 4400. *shrug* the issue with bases being in range to support surface fleet operations will apply to both. bases close enough to support DDG operations are going to have the same in being defensible, y'know.

      But I like how your "contradiction" actually supports my point, which is that it's doctrine and the operator's constraints is what determines the use of a ship and whether one can live with the tradeoffs. ;D

      Like, let's be real: LCS as it is definitely has issues, but c'mon, we've both agreed in the past that there is a role for MCM and ASW corvettes even in high intensity war. And if you stick an LCS in the role of expendable convoy escort, the role Perrys were supposed to do for REFORGER convoys, every LCS you stick on that mission frees up a DDG to go brawling, that ain't nothing.

    12. "Freedom does 3500 nautical miles"

      Not even close. That range figure has been repeatedly scaled back. Go back over the DOT&E reports. The latest actual range is around 1700 miles or so at 14 kts, if I recall correctly.

      Here's a post on one of the range downgrades: LCS Range

      More generally, you really do need to do more research for your comments. You're consistently making incorrect statements. I stated in the comment policy page that this blog requires some extra effort from readers/commenters. Please make use of the archives and various reports available on the Internet. The GAO and DOT&E reports are especially useful.

      You need to get your accuracy to match your enthusiasm.

    13. "if you stick an LCS in the role of expendable convoy escort, the role Perrys were supposed to do"

      You're ignoring the fact that the LCS simply doesn't have the range or endurance for the job and it doesn't have the limited area air defense that the Perrys had. And, of course, there's the pesky little problem that there is no functional ASW module!

    14. I feel i ought to point out that the Perrys didn't have much of any air defense: sure, SM-1 outranges RAM on paper, but good luck trying to hit a modern sea skimmer missile with it, and towards the end of their lives the Perrys AAW ability was downrated from area air defense to self defense...

      And the hull sonar was shit and the towed areay had plenty of problems and the Perrys were pretty much reliant on their Helo for ASW. Not too different from LCS in that regard, lol

    15. One of the things I demand on this blog is objective analysis. For example, the Perrys were built with the best air defense available for their size, at the time. Whether it stands up today is a separate and utterly irrelevant issue as the Perrys no longer exist in the USN.

      You're focused on winning arguments - and not even using good analysis to do so - rather than furthering a discussion. I refer you, again, to the comment policy. This is not the kind of comment I'm looking for. This kind of unproductive comment will be deleted in the future. Forget about arguing and try to advance a discussion.

    16. I'm kinda trying to follow what you've said before, y'know - don't compare the weapon as it was then, compare it as it is now, threats have changed, times have changed, etc. I'm comparing the Perrys as they were in the 2000s with LCS as they are.

      My point is that from an operational standpoint the Perrys don't really bring that much more to the table vs LCS.

      Now, in terms of update potential, I will readily agree that had there been the will to keep the Perrys in service, things could have been done on a relatively cheap budget. You're not really going to get much out of replacing the radar, but you can replace CIWS with SeaRAM and get a more legit self defense capabilty. ECM upgrades may be possible (if you can intergrate it with the FCS and power generation, anyhow). The foredeck has plenty of space: you could drop in a mix of VLS cells and Harpoon canisters, and be able to have a mix of ASuW and ASW weapons (and maybe spare a few cells for ESSM).

      On the other hand, by the time you do all that refurbishment, maybe it would have been cheaper to go and build a new ship.

      Like, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the LCS or the OHP are the best ships for convoy escort. I'm saying that these are the Low end of the High-Low fleetmix, and that every one of these ships you stick on a task like patrolling or convoy escort frees up a DDG for srsface brawling.

      For an ocean escort, I would rather an eurofrigate or an Akizuki (okay, I'm biased, I rather like the Akizuki's aesthetics :p). That gets you a more legit convoy escort than an OHP or LCS, with a credible ASuW, ASW and local AAW capability.

    17. What is the point of this? What does it have to do with LCS deployments - the topic of the post?

    18. Why so serious? :P Discussion drift happens all the time.

      CNO Richardson's testimony to Congress acknowledges the badness that is jo deployments this year, but he promises that LCS will deploy in 2019 and they've been getting their ducks in order and unfucking things so as to make that happen. We'll see.

    19. Further to my last: An argument can be made that we've survived 2018 so far without LCS deployments, so the actual impact, if any, has not realy affected the US.

      On the other hand, that argument cuts both ways: one can also argue that this means we don't really need LCS because we survived the year without any delpoyed LCS.

      It all depends on how one sees things. :P

  9. Have any of them actually completed deployments successfully? Without having to be towed home? How many?

    1. To my knowledge the answer is No but the Navy is going to add the NSM to them so they will have at least a credible ASM system what they also need at least is the ESSM them they may actually be a halfway decent ship possibly even be able to defend thk

    2. There have been three deployments that I can recall.

      1. Freedom deployed to Singapore in what turned out to be a disaster with the ship sidelined for most of the tour.

      2. Fort Worth deployed to Singapore and wound up sidelined for six months due to an engineering breakdown. She eventually managed sufficient repairs to return home for more repairs. The Navy described the deployment as highly successful.

      3. Coronado deployed to Singapore but had to return to Hawaii for a month for repairs on the transit to Singapore. The ship's crew was stranded in Singapore for nine months due to the major reorganization of the LCS program. The ship had sporadic maintenance issues.

      All of the deployments demonstrated that the shore-based maintenance model was hugely more expensive and inefficient than anticipated.

      As far as I recall, that's the entire deployment history.

  10. In defence of the availability
    The LCS was designed around a 3:2:1 system
    3 crews, 2 ships, 1 deployment

    I don't believe that is happening

    Crew 1 deploys ship 1 for 30 days
    Crew 2 deploy ship 2, crew 1 and 3 maintain ship 1 for 30 days
    Crew 3 deploy ship 1 and crew 1 and 2 maintain ship 2.

    The LCS does appear to be a mess, but at least some of that is a matter of incorrect use.

    The 3:2:1 system is actually a great way to warships in peak shape in peacetime, but it's an insane way to plan to operate in wartime

    1. We're going to have to bring you up to date!

      About a year or so ago the Navy dropped the 3:2:1 system and went to a blue/gold (2:1) manning system where the two crews would be permanently assigned to an individual ship.

      The Navy has proven, many times, with many programs and attempts, that manning systems that do not have permanently linked ships and crews result in degraded maintenance from a lack of ownership mentality by the temporary crews. So, 3:2:1 is actually horrible way to man ships in peacetime and simply unworkable in war.

  11. The entire DoD has fallen into the same trap with procurement; the false appeal of multi-role, multi-mission things. The end result is Army Howitzers that try to shoot guided rockets, JSF, LCS, Harvest Hawk etc. The more things you try to make a thing do, the less well it does any of them, and at a higher cost. Is the LCS ever going to be as good as a Minesweeper as a purpose built minesweeper? The Navy seems to be doing a poor job managing to prepare for both Peer Conflict and Asymetric Conflict.

    1. "Is the LCS ever going to be as good as a Minesweeper as a purpose built minesweeper?"

      You get it! It would be a fascinating project to design a purpose built, dedicated minsweeper/MCM vessel with no other function and see what it looks like. I'm betting it wouldn't look anything like an LCS!

      Great comment and astute question!

    2. Was there ever a reason not just build an improved Avenger class or Osprey type? I gather the Avenger did not perform as well as RN types in the gulf war and its stress testing was less rigorous. All I can find is a sort of average cost of all the variants of Italian design the Osprey is based on and that is 143 mil. The Italians upgraded their fleet of I think 14 for 87 mil. That's three new working mine hunters (on a solid design) in Bahrain for one non working LCS (and considering the cost of ASW kit it does not have.

    3. "Was there ever a reason not just build an improved Avenger class "

      No, there was not. Just stupidity on the part of the Navy.

    4. Couldn’t the same be said of the Spruance? Or the OHP? I may be off the mark but I think building “Low Observable” ships, intended to operate in the open ocean is dumb. The ships doing it well, like the Swedish Visby, are operating amid costal clutter not trying to project power in the Western Pacific. I would imagine a traditional ship with a robust EW suite, operating with other ELINT and EW Enablers would be far less observable than say a Zumwalt.

    5. The LCS is interesting like a train wreck. From what I can see the USN is committed to a profoundly blue water navy. No DE subs. It hated the Cyclones and loaned them to CG as fast as it could until wow they needed them (rather like it hated the Pegasus class). It let its Anti surface missile warfare abilty decay I suppose because it threatened big CV air power (but it has let that decay). In seems to have loathed the Perry. I can't understand how the Perry had to go when it serves as a nifty frigate for Turkey w/o sinking or something from hull rot. Has any senator or congressman ever asked why 8(?) ex Perry, G class Turkish frigates seem to be sailing around happily? And could likely sink all the LCS with impunity?

      So how LCS? It is a dock bound low range master at nothing. I can sort see how the technical wonder we have gun support again with the Zumwalt came to be. I just cannot fathom how the LCS was sold or accepted. It is so close to other ships that were considered black sheep (but at least could do their jobs at a reasonable expense)

    6. "I just cannot fathom how the LCS was sold or accepted."

      You need to go back through the archives and catch up. All of this is thoroughly explained. I'll give the short version. The Navy views its mission as protecting and, ideally, increasing its budget share. Things like national defense are afterthoughts and if they happen to coincide with budget share then, all the better - but budget is the main driving force.

      How does a navy get budget share? By putting hulls in water. Whether they're useful for anything is irrelevant. Thus, the LCS represented an easy way to get a major chunk of budget for 55 new ships at a time when the need for a navy was being questioned. The LCS represented budget security (or expansion!). That's why the Navy proposed it and continues to support it.

      This also explains why the Perrys were given away. Upgraded Perrys were a viable alternative to the LCS and, as such, were a threat to the LCS funding. Thus, the Perrys had to go in order to ensure the LCS funding. Because they couldn't wholesale sell the Perrys, they retired and sold what they could, when they could, and removed the weapons from the rest, thus rendering them incapable of operating in the littorals - according to the Navy.

      The same thing happened many years ago when the Spruance class was a threat to the new Aegis ships so the Navy retired and sank every one of them - the best ASW destroyer in the world.

      Now, go peruse the archives and catch yourself up!

    7. I feel i ought to point out that the Perrys weren't really that great as ships -ere have been pithily described as "can't see shit, can't hear shit, can't shoot shit" and they always had problems with their sonar fit. They were the LCS of their day.

      Removing the Mk 13 launchers freed up supply chain and parts to be cannibalised/sold to foreign Mk13 users, and to be fair, SM-1's lack of ability vs sea skimmers means that wasn't such a bad trade. Well, if they'd gotten RAM as replacement self defense missiles, anyhow.

      Otoh given the utter lack of srsface warfare in the 90s and 00s it's hard to argue it was the wrong decision.

    8. "Perrys weren't really that great as ships"

      Utterly irrelevant to the point that they were viewed as a threat to the LCS.

      If you think the Perrys had limitations then you must think the LCS is a garbage scow by comparison. This isn't even a debatable point.

    9. @Kath: the problem with the Avenger is it has a flank speed of 15 knots. Give it a cruise speed of 10 knots, it's going to take forever to move an Avenger to where ypu want it to go.

      The problem is that the USN just doesnt see MCM as important, and the modularity memes sound like a good idea at the time but in practice... practice, everyone doing common hull corvette designs is basically using a common hull, but outfitting the ships from the get-gp for either ASW or ASuW, none of this modularity memes. The Japanese, who take ASW and MCM seriously, are basically going to merge the patrol boat and MCM force and are going to be building their own MCM LCS to do MCM and patrolling.

    10. To be clear, I think the US could well do with a fleet of ASuW, ASW and MCM corvettes, the ship roles and concepts are not inherently bad, but the proof is in the oudding, as they say. The LCS program has not been the best run of programs because the US is a destroyer navy and has no idea how to use corvettes. :v

    11. @wild Goose

      "The problem is that the USN just doesnt see MCM as important, and the modularity memes sound like a good idea at the time but in practice..."

      That is obvious

      " practice, everyone doing common hull corvette designs is basically using a common hull, but outfitting the ships from the get-gp for either ASW or ASuW, none of this modularity memes. The Japanese, who take ASW and MCM seriously, are basically going to merge the patrol boat and MCM force and are going to be building their own MCM LCS to do MCM and patrolling."

      Seems reasonable, which I assume is why the USN did not do so.

      "the problem with the Avenger is it has a flank speed of 15 knots. Give it a cruise speed of 10 knots, it's going to take forever to move an Avenger to where ypu want it to go."

      I think that is a red herring. Operationally I doubt you want be blazing around a flank speed (or the flank speed of a CV group). WW2 mine sweepers were not fast. We are not talking a very expensive ship or one with a massive crew. Base them where they are likely to be needed. The Persian Gulf, the Med, Japan, and Korea. But them is dry dock in the US and maybe Guam (I doubt it has that capacity but what if). Fly the crews around as needed if you don't want to pay for people.


      On the Perry. I take you points. But at least they actually did work and sailed. They also have reasonable survivability. I remain rather not confident that an LCS could have survived to limp home after being hit with 2 missiles (Stark). Given the navy has not finished survivability testing on the LCS - I thinking the answer is no. I know the Stark was rendered a hulk effectively but the ship did allow most of her crew to survive. How would trained crew a not easily replaceable asset would have survived on the LCS? I would think a Perry only 25 years old with a VLS system and an NSM would still be a more able ship than than the LCS.

    12. "Maybe it was to make them more reliable."

      Did you read the comment? Here is the relevant portion:

      "build an improved Avenger class"

      If speed were considered an issue, an improved version could be given more speed. However, speed is about last on the list of requirements for an MCM vessel. Mine threats don't pop up out of nowhere. We know where the potential mine threats are. We can, at our leisure, pre-position MCM assets.

      These argumentative comments are getting tedious.

    13. "The LCS program has not been the best run of programs because the US is a destroyer navy and has no idea how to use corvettes."

      This comment is blindingly obvious and of no value. You're writing just to write. Give me something thoughtful that furthers the discussion or say nothing.

    14. Wild goose
      Modularity doesnt necessarily mean swapped or eveb swappable.

      A personal computer is modular, but most will go to the scrapyard exactly as they came out if the factory.

      There is nothing wrong with that.

      The problem with modularity is it's bad for specific needs.
      A AAW ship needs to be electrically and thermally quiet, with a tall mast
      An ASW ship needs to be accoustically quiet and capable of maintaining high speeds in rough weather with maximum stability.
      You could add a towed sonar array to a carrier, the engines would deafen most of it though.

      The LCS cant sustain speed and it can't carry weight high.
      It can sprint well, so it would be an absolute bastard to sink with torpedo.

    15. "The problem with modularity is it's bad for specific needs."

      If you haven't read it yet, you might be interested in this post: The Myth of Modularity"

    16. @Kath:

      My point about speed was that, with only a handful of Avenger-class minesweepers, being small slow boats, it would take forever to move them from one theater to another, and they're too slow to do anything else.

      The other problem with minesweeping is that nobody has actually done a serious minesweeping clearing of a mined waterway, and has no idea how many boats that's going to take. 10? 20? 60? And that's before we get into troll mining, where the enemy just declares "Oh I have mined EVERY SINGLE BIT OF WATER" and you have to take him at his word and do the laborious work of clearing every bit of water he declared as a minefield, because you can't take the chance he's bluffing. But on the other hand, you don't *need* 60 minesweepers sitting around thumbs up their asses not doing anything when there's no mines to sweep, so LCS gets modules to do other things.

      If you compare LCS to other countries ASuW corvettes, of course it comes up short. But if you change the LCS paradigm and think of it a an MCM corvette that has the range and speed to 2nd line bread and butter patrolling tasks, then it makes a lot more sense. If a DDG is an Abrams tanks, LCS is a Humvee. You don't use a Humvee in the sort of fight you send tanks to, but a Humvee is not useless. Even with just the 57mm gun and some MGs, the LCS is more than equipped enough to patrol places like the Gulf of Aden or Strait of Malacca - you do not need srsface AAW DDGs and CGs on counterpiracy patrols, that's just overkill.

      In that respect, the modularity seems like a good idea. Strait of Hormuz got shut down with mines? Okay, reroute some more counterpiracy LCS from Somalia and SEA to Bahrain, fly out the MCM modules and crews, load up and go to work. Have some boats mount the ASuW modules to protect the MCM boats from Iranian Boghammers. And maybe a few boats should run the ASW kits to screen against Iranian subs. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

      But people - in both the media and the Pentagon - either didn't get that idea about LCS, or somehow the Navy lost the plot along the way. And then you've got the pivot to the Far East, where the tactical situation isn't quite the same as the assumptions LCS was oriented towards - the South China Sea vs the Strait of Hormuz.


      As for survivability and the Perrys... I dunno. Honestly the best case is that LCS takes a hit and is mission killed and limps back; I've never really liked the idea of ships built with aluminium. What the Navy is banking on with LCS is that the sprint speed, reduced RCS (reportedly, smaller than a fishing boat on radar), combined with softkill measures (ESM, ECM) and hardkill (RAM) give it more of a chance, you've got better ECM than the Perrys had, and that 40 knot sprint speed and low RCS give you a chance of putting your boat outside the AShM's seeker cone when it arrives, and if spoofing and evading failed, you've got RAM as point defense missile for hardkill interception.

      But the real important thing is that the crew needs to be on the ball; Stark's crew wasn't, the night they got hit.

    17. "But the real important thing is that the crew needs to be on the ball; Stark's crew wasn't, the night they got hit."

      Agreed. However there does appear to a general problem of being afraid to use you own defenses. The captain and crew of the INS Hanit made the same mistakes. I wonder if more and varied passive systems might be in order. If you are not afraid of friendly fire or shooting down a jet airliner, crews might be more comfortable having passive only systems turned on to auto. I believe the scarcity of CIWS is a point made here, but from what I can tell there is also a fairly minimal deployment of passive defense as well.

      On the Avenger. The thing is there were not that expensive. I see no reason why small inexpensive propose built Minesweepers and ASW type boats could not be forward deployed.

      I remain dubious of the LCS has anything but an expendable missile boat if you bolt on more than 8 NSMs. Even assuming the navy gets the ASW and Mine warfare working, the concept is still flawed . Because the crews it seems to me cannot asked to be masters of three or four different roles. Sure everyone can cross train etc. But I would just feel more comfortable with a dedicated minesweeper from the keel up that had a crew that trained mostly for one primary job.

  12. Hi CNO, I've been through much of the archives to find this answer, with no luck. Now that we have the two LCS variants, and assuming they continue the run to the end, what use would you put them to? I think I know how strongly you feel about them, and I certainly agree with your conclusions. However, we're stuck with them, and will be for some time. So how would you employ them to get the most value from them?
    The only logical use for them that I can see is to serve the carrier groups as a sort of drone carrier, with numerous expendable units for scouting and targeting, but of course, that presupposes the development of a useful drone for these missions before their service lives end...and I can't wait to see those Sinkex vids!
    If I've missed it, please forgive me, or point me to the archived location, but your views on how to get the most value out of the LCS platforms would be very interesting to me.

    1. Well if you wanted really annoy China you could also bolt on way more than 8 NSMs and transfer them to Taiwan and or maybe the supposed anti sub version.

      Seeing as we are already descending into major trade war with CHina why not force China alter its invasion calculus.

      Taiwan would not really need up tempo operations or blue sea out of the LCS just a threat in being. So the LCS model might work for them. Kinda like China's Ballistic missile threat that nobody has ever seen even a scripted test.

      With the LCS off the books you plan for more building, and write all the maintenance costs. The FF competition and its using off the shelf designs makes the LCS look all the more of a white elephant. There are viable designs to had for all its supposed roles. Just build them as fast as the plan for the new FF.

      Not going to happen.


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