Tag Archives: littoral combat ship

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…

Queen City, Fifth Edition

The fifth U.S. Navy warship built for the first city constructed after the War of Independence was commissioned into the Fleet this weekend.

All photos: Chris Eger, feel free to share. Note that big bow thruster marking and the fact that she is drawing under 5m. 

USS Cincinnati (LCS-20), an Independence-class littoral combat ship, follows on the heels of a Los Angeles-class SSN, two cruisers (more on that later) and a City-class ironclad gunboat that was sunk and raised twice during the Civil War. This, of course, all befits the mold of storied Roman statesman and military leader Quintius Cincinnatus.

I attended the ceremony– which had Adm. Jamie Foggo (COMNAVEUR-NAVAF) in attendance, who spoke eloquently about Cincinnatus and, in the end, broke his flag aboard the Navy’s LCS– met her crew and toured the vessel.

For a 420-foot/3,100-ton frigate-sized (although not frigate-armed) warship, the wardroom is small.

Her skipper and XO are both CDRs, while OPS is an LCDR. Ten O2/O3s flesh out the rest of the departments (NAV, CSO, 1stLT, EMO, Weaps, Ordnance, Chief Engr, Main Prop Aux, Aux, Electrical). There are 25 Chiefs including an HMC who serves as the ship’s independent duty corpsman. The rest of the crew is made up of just 33 ratings and strikers. This totals 71 souls, although it should be noted that some of those were from other LCS crews. Notably, Crew 214 recently commissioned a previous Independence-class LCS only months ago.

Of interest, her first watch was just four-strong (including two minemen) with just two watchstanders on the bridge.

A few other things that struck me was the size of the payload bay on the trimaran– the ship has a 104-foot beam, more than twice that of the FFG7s!– which was downright cavernous for a ship that could float in 15 feet of brownish water. This translates into a helicopter deck “roof” that is the largest of any U.S. surface warship barring the Gator Navy and, of course, carriers.

One thing is for sure, you can pack a lot of expeditionary gear and modules in here.

She also has a lot of speed on tap, packing 83,410 hp through a pair of (Cincinnati-made) GE LM2500 turbines and two MTU Friedrichshafen 8000 diesels pushing four Wartsila waterjets. She is rated capable of “over 40 knots” although Foggo noted with a wink she could likely best that.

She has a 3200kW electrical plant including four generators and an MTU 396 TE 54 V8 prime mover.

Sadly, she doesn’t have a lot of firepower, limited to topside .50 cals, her Mk-110 57mm Bofors and C-RAM launcher.

She is expected to be optimized for mine countermeasures with the MH-60-based ALMDS and AMNS systems along with an Unmanned Influence Sweeping System (UISS) and AN/AQS-20A mine detection system. She has a missile deck for the new Mk87 NSM system, although the weapon itself is not currently installed.

Still, should she be headed into harm’s way, I’d prefer to see more air defense/anti-missile capabilities installed, but what do I know.

USS Cincinnati will join her nine sister ships already homeported in San Diego: USS Independence (LCS 2), USS Coronado (LCS 4), USS Jackson (LCS 6), USS Montgomery (LCS 8), USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10), USS Omaha (LCS 12), USS Manchester (LCS 14), USS Tulsa (LCS 16) and USS Charleston (LCS 18).

Built just at Austal’s Alabama shipyard, an hour away from where she was commissioned, five sisters are currently under construction in Mobile. Kansas City (LCS 22) is preparing for sea trials. Assembly is underway on Oakland (LCS 24) and Mobile (LCS 26) while modules are under production for Savannah (LCS 28) and Canberra (LCS 30), with four more under contract through to LCS 38.

LCS finally gets some teeth

From U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs:

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) — The Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) successfully demonstrated the capabilities of the Naval Strike Missile (NSM) Oct. 1 (local date) during Pacific Griffin.

Pacific Griffin is a biennial exercise conducted in the waters near Guam aimed at enhancing combined proficiency at sea while strengthening relationships between the U.S. and Republic of Singapore navies.

“Today was a terrific accomplishment for USS Gabrielle Giffords crew and the Navy’s LCS class,” said Cmdr. Matthew Lehmann, commanding officer. “I am very proud of all the teamwork that led to the successful launch of the NSM.”

The NSM is a long-range, precision strike weapon that can find and destroy enemy ships at distances up to 100 nautical miles away. The stealthy missile flies at sea-skimming altitude, has terrain-following capability and uses an advanced seeker for precise targeting in challenging conditions.

Rear Adm. Joey Tynch, commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific, who oversees security cooperation for the U.S. Navy in Southeast Asia, said Gabrielle Giffords’ deployment sent a crystal clear message of continued U.S. commitment to maritime security in the region.

“LCS packs a punch and gives potential adversaries another reason to stay awake at night,” Tynch said. “We are stronger when we sail together with our friends and partners, and LCS is an important addition to the lineup.”

The NSM aboard Gabrielle Giffords is fully operational and remains lethal. The weapon was first demonstrated on littoral combat ship USS Coronado in 2014. It meets and exceeds the U.S. Navy’s over-the-horizon requirements for survivability against high-end threats, demonstrated lethality, easy upgrades, and long-range strike capability.

Gabrielle Giffords’ deployment represents a milestone for the U.S. Navy and LCS lethality and marks the first time that an NSM has sailed into the Indo-Pacific region. The successful missile shoot demonstrates value for long-range anti-ship missiles.

Gabrielle Giffords, on its maiden deployment, arrived in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility Sept. 16, for a rotational deployment to the Indo-Pacific region. This marks the first time two LCS have deployed to the Indo-Pacific region simultaneously. Gabrielle Giffords is the fifth LCS to deploy to U.S. 7th Fleet, following USS Freedom (LCS 1), USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), USS Coronado (LCS 4) and the currently-deployed USS Montgomery (LCS 8).

Gabrielle Giffords will conduct operations, exercises and port visits throughout the region as well as work alongside allied and partner navies to provide maritime security and stability, key pillars of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific. Its unique capabilities allow it to work with a broad range of regional navies and visit ports larger ships cannot access.

Littoral combat ships are fast, agile and networked surface combatants, optimized for operating in the near-shore environments. With mission packages allowing for tailored capabilities to meet specific mission needs and unique physical characteristics, LCS provides operational flexibility and access to a wider range of ports.

With that being said, I have an invite to check out the newest Independence-type LCS this weekend and will report more on that, later.

Navy gives LCS’s minesniffer a thumb’s up (finally)

The Navy last week announced the completion of developmental testing for Raytheon’s AN/AQS-20C mine-hunting sonar system at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City Division.

This thing:

For these things:

PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 27, 2019) The Independence variant littoral combat ships USS Independence (LCS 2), left, USS Manchester (LCS 14), and USS Tulsa (LCS 16) are underway in formation in the eastern Pacific. Littoral combat ships are high-speed, agile, shallow draft, mission-focused surface combatants designed for operations in the littoral environment, yet fully capable of open ocean operations. As part of the surface fleet, LCS has the ability to counter and outpace evolving threats independently or within a network of surface combatants. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Shannon Renfroe/Released)

PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 27, 2019) The Independence variant littoral combat ships USS Independence (LCS 2), left, USS Manchester (LCS 14), and USS Tulsa (LCS 16) are underway in formation in the eastern Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Shannon Renfroe/Released)

The presser:

The AQS-20C is the next generation of the AN/AQS-20 system designed to be incorporated into the Littoral Combat Ship Mine Countermeasures Mission Package. The system consists of four sonar arrays: two side-looking arrays; a gap-filler sonar array; and a forward-looking sonar array providing simultaneous detection, localization, and classification of bottom mines, close-tethered moored mines, and volume-moored mines.

The system delivers high-definition images of bottom mines, providing the operator with both range and contrast data that combine to form a three-dimensional image during post-mission analysis to aid in mine identification.

Developmental testing verifies that a system’s design meets all technical specifications and that all contract requirements have been met. During testing the Raytheon-developed towed sonar sensor conducted 12 underway missions in various operational modes and at different depths at four separate NSWC PCD test ranges. The missions were conducted aboard the test vessel M/V Patriot.

The AQS-20C will now be integrated with and deployed from the Mine Countermeasures Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MCM USV), a long-endurance, semi-autonomous, diesel-powered, all-aluminum surface craft that supports the employment of various mine countermeasure payloads. The MCM USV can be launched and recovered by the LCS, from other vessels of opportunity or from shore sites to provide minesweeping, mine-hunting, and mine neutralization capabilities. The MCM USV is currently undergoing developmental testing as a component of the Unmanned Influence Sweep System at the South Florida Test Facility in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Test results will now undergo scoring and performance assessment leading up to a final developmental testing report that is expected to be completed in the spring. Findings from this report will be used for future performance improvements of the system.

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.

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.”

 

At least it is better than death by PowerPoint

More on the innovative Integrated Virtual Shipboard Environment (IVSE), a 3-dimensional, interactive, LCS simulator, complete with voice controls and ultra-realistic sound effects that is used in conjunction with an up-to-date EOSS to put engineering plant technicians in their machinery long before they report.

They have 626 immersive environments…sure, it’s virtual, but it they have a point that it helps new strikers coming in who have only known video games before MEPPS.

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.”

Freedom on the ropes with bad diesel

150428-N-TC437-320 PACIFIC OCEAN (April 28, 2015) The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) transits alongside the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) in preparation for a replenishment-at-sea training exercise. U.S. Navy ships are underway conducting an independent deployer certification exercise off the coast of Southern California. The exercise provides a multi-ship environment to train and certify independent deployers in surface warfare, air defense, maritime-interception operations, command and control/information warfare, command, control, computers and combat systems intelligence and mine warfare. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ignacio D. Perez/Released)

150428-N-TC437-320 PACIFIC OCEAN (April 28, 2015) The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) transits alongside the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) in preparation for a replenishment-at-sea training exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ignacio D. Perez/Released)

And the hits keep coming on the Navy’s LCS program!

In the past several months there have been a number of high-profile incidents that left brand new Freedom-class littoral combat ships limping into port for extensive repair. Last December, USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) was sidelined for weeks to repair an engine casualty that occurred during an Atlantic Ocean transit that left her in need of a tow to Little Creek. Prior to that USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) was left tied to her pier in Singapore for seven months until new bearings could be installed in her combining gear.

Now, it’s Freedom‘s turn.

From the Navy’s presser:

USS Freedom (LCS 1) experienced a casualty to one of the ship’s main propulsion diesel engines (MPDE) on July 11 caused by a leak from the attached seawater pump mechanical seal that resulted in seawater entering the engine lube oil system.

The crew took action to address the leak, and Freedom returned to homeport July 13 on her own power to conduct repairs on a separate, unrelated issue. While in port, the crew performed seawater contamination procedures. From July 19-28, the ship returned to sea to complete its portion of the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise using gas turbine engines rather than its MPDEs.

Upon returning to port, Southwest Regional Maintenance Center’s Diesel Engine Inspector (SWRMC DEI) conducted a diesel engine inspection of USS Freedom’s #2 MPDE on August 3 and found significant damage to the engine caused by rust and seawater. Based on initial assessments from the inspection, Freedom’s #2 MPDE will need to be removed and rebuilt or replaced. The cost and timeline for the repair of the engine are unknown at this time. An investigation by Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CNSP) is underway to determine the definitive cause of the casualty and examine all relevant elements of training and supervision.

“Given the engineering casualties on USS Freedom and USS Fort Worth, I believe improvements in engineering oversight and training are necessary,” said Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, commander, Naval Surface Forces. “The recently completed LCS Review of manning, design, and training looked at a number of sailor performance and ownership factors, to include crew rotation, size and proficiency. From this work, I believe we will be able to make immediate changes to help reduce chance for future operator error. I am fully committed to ensuring that our ships and the Sailors who man them have the proper tools and training they need to safely and effectively operate these ships.”

« Older Entries