Tag Archives: LCS

Big Navy wants to bench the first LCS quartet to pass on the savings, or something like that

Going back to the old Zumwalt Redux “Streetfighter” concept, the littoral combat ship program was envisioned to crank out an armada of cheap (err, affordable) but deadly and fast ships ready to go into harm’s way in the dangerous shallows where you may not want to risk a billion-dollar Aegis cruiser or destroyer.

Streetfighter, in concept, 1999ish

After all, in the enemy’s coastal region, even dated weapons like Great War-era moored contact mines, speedboats with RPGs, and 105mm howitzers left over from World War II can be killers and don’t need a lot of C4I that can be easily disrupted.

When it comes to doctrine, the LCS were the outgrowth of the PT-boats of the 1940s, PGMs of the cold war, and Reagan(Lehman)-era PHMs of the 1980s.

USS Aries (PHM-5) back in her fighting trim

Somewhat less than a frigate/destroyer escort, and a bit more than a patrol boat. For lack of a better word, they were expendable, to turn a phrase

Now, heading out the door are the first four of the LCS fleet, the initial two of Marinette Marine’s Freedom-class monohull models– USS Freedom (LCS-1) and USS Fort Worth (LCS-3)— and the first two of Austal’s Independence-class trimaran design– USS Independence (LCS-2) and USS Coronado (LCS-4). Further, funding for more of either type is zeroed out after FY2020.

Now to be fair, all four ships were basically beta tests for the follow-on boats and have seen lots of unexpected teething problems on everything from hull design to propulsion, electronics to berthing areas, and everything in between.

The Navy is arguing in their latest budget justification that it would be a case of good money after bad to continue to upgrade these little tubs to make them worthy of keeping around.

“These ships have been test articles and training assets, and were key in developing the operational concepts leading to the current deployment of LCS ships today,” says the Navy in a statement. “But canceling their modernization allows us to prioritize lethality and survivability where we need it.”

However, these are low-mileage tin cans, with Coronado only in the fleet for five years and 10 months. Even the oldest of the four, Freedom, was commissioned in 2008.

Of note, the plan restores funding for USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75)‘s refueling and the carrier’s associated airwing– although let’s be honest, the Navy was never going to retire her with another two decades of life on the ship’s hull. It also includes around $350 million over the next two years for the planned Future Large Surface Combatant (LSC) and Small Surface Combatant FFG (X) while chipping in about $3B for the Columbia-class SSBNs.

Odds are, the Pentagon will be overruled by the Dems in the House or the Republicans in the Senate and the funding will be added to keep these four fairly young LCS around, which may be the gamble the Navy is banking on.

If not, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were swiftly passed on via FMS to Saudi Arabia in a warm transfer, as the Kingdom is eager for more hulls at a good price to both keep their oil lifeline going and continue their blockade of Yemen.

Speaking of which, USS Normandy (CG-60) just reeled in another undocumented (*cough, Iran, cough*) dhow off Yemen, a mission that could arguably be performed by an LCS with an on-board helo and a LEDET/VBSS team of some sort.

Included on the boat’s manifest were 358 missile components including 150 Delavieh anti-tank missiles, Iranian versions of the modern and uber dangerous Russian 9M133 Kornet, basically a budget Javelin.

200209-N-PC620-0005 ARABIAN SEA (Feb. 09, 2020) The crew of the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60), in accordance with international law, seized an illicit shipment of advanced weapons and weapon components, which held 358 surface-to-air missile components and “Dehlavieh” anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM), intended for the Houthis in Yemen, aboard a stateless dhow during a maritime interdiction operation in the U.S. Fifth Fleet area of operations, Feb. 9, 2020. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael H. Lehman)

And the beat goes on…

And the LCS just keep coming

Lockheed-Martin’s Freedom-class LCS 11, the future USS Sioux City, will be the first combat ship ever commissioned at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. She was delivered to the Navy last month. (Photo: Lockheed-Martin)

From DOD:

Lockheed Martin Corp., Baltimore, Maryland, is awarded a fixed-price-incentive firm target modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-18-C-2300) for construction of one littoral combat ship (LCS). The Navy may release a competitive solicitation(s) for additional LCS class ships in fiscal 2019, and therefore the specific contract award amount for this ship is considered source selection sensitive information (see 41 U.S. Code 2101, et seq., Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) 2.101 and FAR 3.104) and will not be made public at this time. Work will be performed in Marinette, Wisconsin (40 percent); Washington, District of Columbia (7 percent); Baltimore, Maryland (6 percent); Beloit, Wisconsin (2 percent); Iron Mountain, Michigan (2 percent); Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1 percent); Waunakee, Wisconsin (1 percent); Crozet, Virginia (1 percent); Coleman, Wisconsin (1 percent); Monrovia, California (1 percent); and various other locations of less than one percent each (totaling 38 percent), and is expected to be completed by September 2024. Fiscal 2018 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy) funding will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract modification was awarded via a limited competition between Austal USA and Lockheed Martin pursuant to 10 U.S. Code 2304(c)(3) and FAR 6.302-3. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, District of Columbia, is the contracting activity.

Austal USA, Mobile, Alabama, is awarded a fixed-price-incentive firm target modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-17 C-2301) for the construction of two littoral combat ships (LCS). The Navy may release a competitive solicitation(s) for additional LCS class ships in fiscal year 2019, and therefore the specific contract award amount for these ships is considered source selection sensitive information (see 41 U.S. Code 2101, et seq., Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) 2.101 and FAR 3.104) and will not be made public at this time. Work will be performed in Mobile, Alabama (61 percent); Pittsfield, Massachusetts (20 percent); Cincinnati, Ohio (4 percent); Kingsford, Michigan (1 percent); Bristol, Connecticut (1 percent); and various other locations of less than one percent each (totaling 13 percent), and is expected to be completed by September 2024. Fiscal 2018 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy) funding will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract modification was awarded via a limited competition between Austal USA and Lockheed Martin pursuant to 10 U.S. Code 2304(c)(3) and FAR 6.302-3. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, District of Columbia, is the contracting activity.

It should be noted that, while the Navy wanted to term the program at 32 vessels, Congress has directed that they take it to 35, but has zeroed out funds for the ship’s critical mission modules, basically the thing that is designed to make them actual ships and not just a low-budget loveboat.

Meet Nomad. It lives in a tube and could be a very interesting

The Naval Research Laboratory has been testing a light rotary drone called the Nomad from USS Coronado (LCS-4). The cool thing about it is that it is CO2 launched from a tube, and they can carry (and operate) multiple Nomads at once.

Civilian contractors from the Office of Naval Research conduct a test on a Nomad drone system aboard the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4)

A Nomad drone launches from the flight deck of the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4). The four -pack as shown looks like it is on a rolling cart and has a small footprint

Nomad drone lands on the flight deck of the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4). Note the second incoming at the top of the image

According to NRL:

The Nomad is a highly affordable expendable design, allowing for execution of its mission without concerns for returning to the ship. This new upgrade retains the original affordable expendable design, but now has a recovery feature that allows operators to retrieve and reuse the Nomad vehicles multiple times in support of development, testing, training, and potentially future operational missions.

A kinda interesting concept, especially if you allow the tech to grow to where a single LCS could serve as a “drone carrier” flying dozens or even possibly hundreds of small tube-launched Nomads or weaponized successors operating in swarms. Now that actually sounds like a useful littoral combat ship.

More here

Royal Navy pushing for 5 so-called ‘budget battleships’

With the RN shrinking from what MoD called an “absolute minimum” of 30 surface combatants, they now just have 19, and are looking to replace some long in the tooth frigates, but are coming up short.

Plans for the procurement of the Royal Navy’s new Type 31e frigates were announced by the Minister for Defence Procurement, Harriett Baldwin. These new ships will replace five Type 23 Duke-class frigates and will cost £250m ($327 million) each, which is bargain basement figures for a tin can. Keep in mind that the LCS project ships, which are the lightest of light frigates, cost $636.1 million a pop in the FY17 Pentagon budget.

As part of the new National Shipbuilding Strategy, these could be built in the same way as the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers – in UK shipyards across the country through subassemblies.

One contender for the Type 31e design is the BMT Venator series, a 383-foot, 4,000-ton light frigate with a SAAB integrated combat system, including 9LV CMS, Sea Giraffe AMB, 127mm gun system and both an active and passive variable depth sonar.

Some versions of the Venator show four 3-cell Lockheed Martin VLS quad packed with 48 MBDA Sea Ceptor missiles to provide AAW support while a a single 8-cell Mk41 Strike Length VLS would allow for Tomahawks.

IF they can get that for $327 million (holds breath) where does the USN need to sign up?

However, as the one-sheeter released by the RN states, the Type 31e will have a medium caliber main gun (76mm), large helicopter deck/hangar, and a 80-100 man crew– no mention of ASW, ASuW, strike or AAW capabilities– which in the end could leave the Brits with their own version of the LCS, which is great for asymettric warfare and constabulary duties, not so much for action against a real foe with legit weapons systems.

The first ships are set to be in service by 2023 when he seniormost Duke, HMS Argyll, will be 32-years young.

With the Type 31e to replace five Type 23 frigates, the other eight Type 23s are set to be replaced by the upcoming Type 26 class, a much more muscular design optimized for air defense.

Navy lets LCS sling a Harpoon, now with Fire Scout!

When envisioned back in the day, the Littoral Combat Ship idea, in its earliest “Streetfighter” concept, was a low-cost swarm of vessels capable of operating in shallow nearshore environments with a small crew and a small footprint. One of the big deals about these was the ability to “own” the area around them with anti-ship missiles. Park an LCS offshore, just over the horizon and away from the local warlord’s optically sighted anti-tank missiles, mortar and tube artillery on the beach, and it could run roughshod on the sea lanes. The thing is, LCS hasn’t had any anti-ship missiles so it couldn’t control anything beyond the under 9-mile reliable engagement distance of its 57mm popgun.

Well, with USS Coronado (LCS-4) at least the Navy has been working to fix that. She deployed last year with a single Harpoon and fired it (semi-successful) during RIMPAC 2016.

Now, it looks as if Coronado made good, hitting a surface target on 22 August with a little help from her embarked MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aerial system and MH-60S Seahawk helicopter. Also, in the below cleared image, she is carrying a four-pack of Harpoons, whereas last summer she only had one missile.

170822-N-GR361-082 PHILIPPINE SEA (Aug. 22, 2017) A harpoon missile launches from the missile deck of the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) off the coast of Guam. Coronado is on a rotational deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations, patrolling the region’s littorals and working hull-to-hull with partner navies to provide the U.S. 7th Fleet with the flexible capabilities it needs now and in the future. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kaleb R. Staples/Released)

From the Navy’s presser:

“LCS will play an important role in protecting shipping and vital U.S. interests in the maritime crossroads,” said Rear Adm. Don Gabrielson, commander, Task Force 73. “Its ability to pair unmanned vehicles like Fire Scout with Harpoon missiles to strike from the littoral shadows matters – there are over 50,000 islands in the arc from the Philippines to India; those shallow crossroads are vital world interests. Harpoon and Fire Scout showcase one of the growing tool combinations in our modular LCS capability set and this complex shot demonstrates why LCS has Combat as its middle name.”

 

Motown LCS drops the Hellfires, um we mean SSMM

In an effort to give the Littoral Combat Ships some teeth against small boat threats and swarm attacks by the same, USS Detroit (LCS 7) last week pulled off structural test firing of 3 missiles from the Surface to Surface Missile Module (SSMM).

SSMM, part of the LCS’s Surface Warfare Mission Package, utilizes a 24-pack of the Army’s AGM 114L-8A Longbow Hellfire, which is traditionally air launched from drones and Apache gunships, and instead vertical launches it from the naval vessel.

The test marked the first vertical missile launched from an LCS and the first launch of a missile from the SSMM while mounted to an LCS.

“This was another positive step forward in fielding of the next increment for the SUW MP,” stated Capt. Ted Zobel, Mission Modules program manager. “The SSMM is a critical piece of the SUW MP and this event will allow us to move safely into developmental testing and soon to fielding this capability aboard LCS.”

The full Surface Warfare Mission Package, which includes two Mk46 30mm guns in the Gun Mission Module and the Maritime Security Module (11m Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat for Visit Boarding Search and Seizure), will begin developmental testing aboard USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) later this year with IOC in 2018.

Warship Wednesday October 26, 2016: The mighty midget with the most miles on her

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday October 26, 2016: The mighty midget with the most miles on her

Photo by Russel Javier, USS LCS-102 page

Photo by Russel Javier, USS LCS-102 page

Here we see LCS(L)(3)-1-class Landing Craft Support (Large)(Mark3)#102 as she appears today at Mare Island.

Talk about a mouthful.

With the urgent need for shallow draft craft for amphibious operations on the beaches of North Africa, Italy, France, and of course the Pacific in World War II, the U.S. Navy urgently ordered a myriad of Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) vessels to discharge troops and gear right on the surfline.

Over 900 of these hardy little 158-foot boats were built, each capable of plugging away on their Detroit diesels at 16 knots while carrying a full company of infantry.

To give these LCIs some close in support, the unimaginatively named Landing Craft, Support (Large) was designed.

Using the same hull as the LCIs, these craft were loaded with a single 3″/50 dual purpose gun mount on the bow,  two twin 40mm Bofors fore and aft, four single 20mm AA gun mounts, four .50 cals and– most importantly–10 MK7 rocket launchers.

Each launcher contained a dozen or more 30-pound 4.5-inch Beach Barrage Rockets (BBR) which had an 1,100-yard range, meaning the 158-foot flat bottom boat could smother an enemy-held coast with 120+ rockets faster than you can say “sauerkraut sammich.”

4-5in_usn_br_rocket

Beach Barrage Rockets being loaded USS LCI(G)-456 during the invasion of Peleliu, September 1944. US National Archives photo #'s 257558

Beach Barrage Rockets being loaded USS LCI(G)-456 during the invasion of Peleliu, September 1944. US National Archives photo #’s 257558

rockets

This punch in a small package gave them the moniker “mighty midgets.”

They certainly were distinctive, as noted by these detailed shots of class member USS LCS-50

USS LCS(L)(3) 50. Description: Courtesy of James C. Fahey collection, U.S. Naval Institute Catalog #: NH 81533

USS LCS(L)(3) 50. Description: Courtesy of James C. Fahey collection, U.S. Naval Institute Catalog #: NH 81533

USS LCS(L)(3) 50 Caption: At Albina Engine and Machine Works Portland, Oregon, September 1944. Courtesy of James C. Fahey collection, U.S. Naval Institute Catalog #: NH 81532

USS LCS(L)(3) 50 Caption: At Albina Engine and Machine Works Portland, Oregon, September 1944. Courtesy of James C. Fahey collection, U.S. Naval Institute Catalog #: NH 81532

USS LCS(L)(3) 50 Caption: At Albina Engine and Machine Works Portland, Oregon, 19 September 1944. Courtesy of James C. Fahey collection, U.S. Naval Institute Catalog #: NH 81530

USS LCS(L)(3) 50 Caption: At Albina Engine and Machine Works Portland, Oregon, 19 September 1944. Courtesy of James C. Fahey collection, U.S. Naval Institute Catalog #: NH 81530

USS LCS(L)(3) 50 At Albina Engine and Machine Works Portland, Oregon, 19 September 1944. Courtesy of James C. Fahey collection, U.S. Naval Institute. Catalog #: NH 81527

USS LCS(L)(3) 50 At Albina Engine and Machine Works Portland, Oregon, 19 September 1944. Courtesy of James C. Fahey collection, U.S. Naval Institute. Catalog #: NH 81527

Most were given a very effective Camouflage Measure 33 scheme in the Pacific

Most were given a very effective Camouflage Measure 33 scheme in the Pacific

A total of 130 LCS’s were built late in the war–in a period as short as 10 days per hull in some cases– by three yards: George Lawley & Son, Commercial Iron Works and Albina Engine Works, with the former in Massachusetts and the latter two in Oregon.

The subject of our tale, USS LCS(L)(3)-102, was a CIW-built model that was laid down 13 Jan 1945, commissioned a scant month later on 17 February, and by July was supporting landings off Okinawa.

lcs-102

LCS(L)(3)-102 underway off the Island of Kyushu, Japan, September 1945. National Association of USS LCS(L) 1-130

LCS(L)(3)-102 underway off the Island of Kyushu, Japan, September 1945. National Association of USS LCS(L) 1-130

Her war ended just a few weeks later but she did have a chance to earn one battlestar for her WWII service before transitioning to help serve in the occupation forces in Japan along with service off China through 8 April 1946. Not all were as lucky– six LCS(L)(3)s were sunk and 21 were damaged during WWII.

Decommissioned 30 April, LCS-102 was laid up in the Pacific Reserve Fleet, Columbia River Group, Astoria, Oregon where she was reclassified while on red lead row as USS LSSL-102, 28 February 1949.

Most of the LCS’s had been rode hard and put up wet, as evidenced by this little ship:

USS LCS(L)(3)-13 In San Francisco Bay, California, soon after the end of World War II. The Golden Gate Bridge is in the left background. Courtesy of William H. Davis, 1977. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 85170

USS LCS(L)(3)-13 In San Francisco Bay, California, soon after the end of World War II. The Golden Gate Bridge is in the left background. Courtesy of William H. Davis, 1977. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 85170

Surplus to the Navy’s needs, LCS-102/LSSL-102 was transferred to the burgeoning Japanese Self Defense Forces 30 April 1953 who renamed her JDS Himawari. This was not uncommon as most LCS remaining in U.S. service were given away to overseas allies– some even going right back into combat for instance with the French in Indochina.

As for LCS-102, she served Japan quietly as a coastal patrol vessel, with the JSDF retiring her in 1966.

With the little 158-footer back in their possession and even less need for her than in 1953, the U.S. Navy re-gifted the vessel to the Royal Thai Navy who commissioned her as HTMS Nakha (LSSL-751).

Still largely unmodified from her WWII appearance with the exception of her Mk7s being removed, the ship continued in Thai service for another four decades– though with a new engineering suite.

Photo courtesy The Mighty Midgets website.

Photo courtesy The Mighty Midgets website.

Retired sometime around 2007, a veterans group of former LCS sailors found out about her and, being the last of her class anywhere, sought out to bring her home.

HTMS Nakha (LSSL-751). The last of the World War II LCSs is docked at Laem Tien Pier at Sattahip Naval Base ahead of her transfer ceremonies prior to setting off on her final voyage back home to the United States. Pattaya, Thailand, Friday June 1 2007

HTMS Nakha (LSSL-751). The last of the World War II LCSs is docked at Laem Tien Pier at Sattahip Naval Base ahead of her transfer ceremonies prior to setting off on her final voyage back home to the United States. Pattaya, Thailand, Friday June 1 2007. Via Navsource.

From an SF Gate article at the time:

The vets, who had formed a nonprofit organization called the National Association of USS LCS(L) 1-130, talked the U.S. State Department and the Thais into giving the ship to them.

“I talked to the Thai navy officer who was the first captain of this ship in the Thai navy,” said Bill Mason, 82, “He’s retired himself now but he thought the same way about this ship that we do. They were sorry to see it go.”

Loaded as deck cargo on the freighter Da Fu, she was shipped 7,900 miles to San Francisco Bay where she was installed at the Mare Island National Historic Park in November 2007 and has been since restored and put on display as a museum ship.

1005010208

From the USS LCS-2 social media page:

281868_212440335474809_7200956_n

Below is a good tour of the ship if you cannot make it (the music ends and the actual tour begins at about the 1:40 mark).

Please check out the official website of the National Association of USS LCS(L) 1-130 “The Mighty Midgets” for more information on these amphibious gunboats of World War II.

Specs:

Camouflage Measure 33, Design 14L. Drawing prepared by the Bureau of Ships for a camouflage scheme intended for landing craft, support (large) of the LCS(L)-3 class. This plan, approved by Captain Torvald A. Solberg, USN, is dated 26 July 1944. It shows the ship's starboard side, horizontal surfaces, stern and superstructure ends. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives. Catalog #: 19-N-73633

Camouflage Measure 33, Design 14L. Drawing prepared by the Bureau of Ships for a camouflage scheme intended for landing craft, support (large) of the LCS(L)-3 class. This plan, approved by Captain Torvald A. Solberg, USN, is dated 26 July 1944. It shows the ship’s starboard side, horizontal surfaces, stern and superstructure ends. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives.
Catalog #: 19-N-73633

Displacement 250 t (lt), 387 t (fl)
Length 158′ o.a.
Beam 23′ 8″
Draft:
5′ 8″ limiting and max draft
loaded, 4′ 9″ fwd, 6′ 6″ aft
Speed:
14.4 trial
16.5k max at 650 shaft rpm
14.5kts at 585 shaft rpm
Armor 10-lb STS splinter shield to gun mounts, pilot house and conning tower
Complement:
8 Officers
70 Enlisted
Endurance 5,500 miles at 12kts at 45″ pitch (350 tons dspl.)
Fuel/Stores
635 Bbls Diesel (76 tons)
10 tons fresh water
6 tons lubrication oil
8 tons provisions and stores at full load
Fresh Water Capacity distill up to 1,000 gals. per day
Propulsion:
As built:
2 quad packs of 4 General Motors 6051 series 71 Diesel engines per shaft, BHP 1,600
single General Motors Main Reduction Gears
2 Diesel-drive 60Kw 450V. A. C. Ships Service Generators
twin variable pitch propellers
*Thai service saw the GMs swapped out for Maybach Mercedes MTU V8s
Armament (as built)
bow gun, one single 3″/50 dual purpose gun mount
two twin 40mm AA gun mounts
four single 20mm AA gun mounts
four .50 cal machine guns
ten MK7 rocket launchers (retired 1953)

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Scratch another LCS

uss-montgomery-lcs

In what is fast becoming a regular news item, a  Littoral Combat Ship–in this case the freshly commissioned Independence-class USS Montgomery (LCS-8) suffered engineering casualties during a transit in the Gulf of Mexico and is heading to Florida for repairs.

As reported by USNI News:

[Montgomery] was bound for the Panama Canal when Montgomery suffered two engineering failures. Now the ship is headed to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo, Cuba under its own power but under propulsion restrictions before returning to Naval Station Mayport, Fla. for repairs, Naval Surface Forces confirmed to USNI News.

“The first casualty happened when the crew detected a seawater leak in the hydraulic cooling system. Later that day, Montgomery experienced a casualty to one of its gas turbine engines,” read a late Friday statement.

“The built-in redundancy of the ship’s propulsion plant allows these ships to operate with multiple engine configurations. However, with the two casualties resulting in the loss of both port shafts, it was determined that the best course of action would be to send the ship to Mayport to conduct both repairs.”

It’s the fifth engineering casualty suffered by an LCS within the last year. Montgomery was commissioned 10 September at Mobile at her builder’s yard and was on her maiden voyage to her home port, which will be put off for a time.

Hello Blue/Gold LCS, goodbye multi-use

The littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS 2) demonstrates its maneuvering capabilities in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel M. Young/Released)

The littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS 2) demonstrates its maneuvering capabilities in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel M. Young/Released)

The Navy is ditching a couple Littoral Combat Ship concepts, specifically the 3:2:1 crewing model and the concept that all ships can be all things at all times (but actually accomplish none of them).

In the end, they are going to wind up with ships crewed like SSBNs (rotating Blue/Gold crews) and equipped to operate in dedicated mission sets (Surface Warfare, Minehunting, or ASW). The 40-52 ships of the program will be grouped in four-ship divisions (with 3 ships deployable) by mission, but no word on how many divisions will be dedicated to each mission.

From the Navy’s presser (which notably 404’d off the Navy’s site, then popped back up):

The Navy announced today it will implement several key changes to the projected 28-ship littoral combat ship (LCS) Flight 0/0+ class over the next five years that will simplify crewing, stabilize testing, and increase overseas deployment presence availability.

The projected 12 Frigates will be the next increment of LCS and will use the same manning, training, maintenance and operating concepts as those that have been approved as part of the LCS review. The decision to make these changes resulted from a comprehensive review of LCS crewing, training, maintenance, and operations commissioned in March. While a total of 40 ships have been approved for the program, the Navy Force Structure Assessment still projects the need for 52 small surface combatants that LCS and Frigate address.

Beginning this fall, the Navy will start to phase out the 3:2:1 crewing construct and transition to a Blue/Gold model similar to the one used in crewing Ballistic Missile submarines, patrol craft and minesweepers. The LCS crews will also merge, train, and rotate with mission module detachment crews, organizing as four-ship divisions of a single warfare area – either surface warfare (SUW), mine warfare (MCM), or anti-submarine warfare (ASW). Though organized this way, the LCS class will retain the technological benefits of modularity and the ability to swap mission packages quickly if needed. Aviation detachments will also deploy with the same LCS crew, but will remain assigned to their respective squadrons when in home port.

To facilitate these changes across the class, the Navy will eventually homeport Independence-variant ships in San Diego and Freedom-variant ships in Mayport, Fla. 24 of the 28 LCS ships will form into six divisions with three divisions on each coast. Each division will have a single warfare focus and the crews and mission module detachments will be fused. Each division will consist of three Blue/Gold-crewed ships that deploy overseas and one single-crewed training ship. Under this construct, each division’s training ship will remain available locally to certify crews preparing to deploy. Few homeport shifts will be needed since only six LCS are currently commissioned while the rest are under contract, in construction, or in a pre-commissioned unit status.

The first four LCS ships (LCS 1-4) will become testing ships. Like the training ships, testing ships will be single-crewed and could be deployed as fleet assets if needed on a limited basis; however, their primary purpose will be to satisfy near and long term testing requirements for the entire LCS class without affecting ongoing deployment rotations. This approach accommodates spiral development and rapid deployment of emerging weapons and delivery systems to the fleet without disrupting operational schedules.

Implementing these changes now and as more LCS ships are commissioned over the coming years will ultimately allow the Navy to deploy more ships, increasing overall forward presence. With the Blue/Gold model in place, three out of four ships will be available for deployment compared with one out of two under 3:2:1. The Blue/Gold model will also simplify ownership of maintenance responsibilities and enhance continuity as the same two crews rotate on a single ship. Single-crewed training ships will complement shore-based training facilities and ensure crews have enough time at sea before deployment. The findings and recommendations of the LCS review will allow the LCS program to become more survivable, lethal, and adaptable as the LCS become regular workhorses in the fleet.

Say it’s not so, Coronado

160629-N-IY142-050  PEARL HARBOR (June 29, 2016) USS Coronado (LCS 4) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for Rim of the Pacific 2016. Twenty-six nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 30 to Aug. 4, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world's largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world's oceans. RIMPAC 2016 is the 25th exercise in the series that began in 1971. (U.S. Navy Photo By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class John Herman/RELEASED)

160629-N-IY142-050 PEARL HARBOR (June 29, 2016) USS Coronado (LCS 4) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for Rim of the Pacific 2016. Twenty-six nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 30 to Aug. 4, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. (U.S. Navy Photo By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class John Herman/RELEASED)

It looks like a fourth LCS has suffered an engineering casualty, USS Coronado (LCS 4).

The crew took precautionary measures, and the ship is currently returning to Pearl Harbor to determine the extent of the problem and conduct repairs. Coronado is operating under her own power and is being escorted by USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO 187).

This adds Coronado to the list that includes USS Freedom (LCS 1) last week, USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) in last December, and USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) in January. That makes four littoral combat ships– three Freedom class and now one Independence class– that have taken a hit on their propulsion suites in a nine month period. As these ships are lightly armed and speed is their best weapon, this sucks.

And the brass seem kinda hosed off.

Statement from Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson:

“Last night’s problem is the fourth issue in the last year. Some of these were caused by personnel, and some were due to design and engineering. These issues are all receiving our full and immediate attention, both individually and in the aggregate. To address the personnel and training issues, I established a program-wide review earlier this summer to incorporate deployment lessons learned and identify systemic problems with how the program was structured. Vice Adm. Rowden has completed the review, which recommends changes to the crewing, deployment, mission module, training and testing concepts. These changes will provide more ownership and stability, while also allowing for more forward presence. In light of recent problems, we also recognize more immediate action needs to be taken as well. The review is being briefed to leadership before implementation. I also support Vice Adm. Rowden’s decision to improve oversight class-wide, which will result in the retraining and certifying of all LCS Sailors who work in engineering.

“With respect to the engineering issues, we are reviewing each one and making the appropriate corrections. For instance, the software problem on USS Milwaukee has been corrected for all ships. NAVSEA and SURFOR will review this most recent problem to determine the cause, and we will respond as needed to correct it.

“The entire leadership team is focused on ensuring our ships are properly designed and built, and that our Sailors have the tools and training they need to safely and effectively operate these ships. These ships bring needed capability to our combatant and theater commanders–we must get these problems fixed now.”

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