Tag Archives: USS Coronado (LCS-4)

It’s official, first four LCSs headed to “Red Lead Row.” Why not Blow Row?

As we have talked about previously, the first flight littoral combat ships (Freedom, Independence, Fort Worth, and Coronado) have been deemed too beta to be upgraded enough for regular fleet use. In a  burst from the CNO last month, the word is now official: all four will be shifted to OCIR status (Out of Commission, In Reserve) on 31 March 2021, with the youngest, Coronado, being just six years old.

Oof.

In a case of bad timing, the Navy’s PAO just released this very well done “A Day in the Life of an LCS” video, filmed on the new Freedom-class USS Indianapolis (LCS 17).

Notably, the three Cyclone-class 170-foot patrol craft not up to their neck in the Persian Gulf (USS Zephyr PC-8, USS Shamal PC-13, and USS Tornado PC-14) are also to be disposed of on the same date.

MAYPORT, Fla. (Aug. 02, 2016) – The Cyclone-class Patrol Coastal USS Shamal (PC 13) returns to homeport U.S. Naval Station Mayport after a 62-day deployment to the 4th Fleet area of responsibility where they conducted counter illicit trafficking operations in support of Operation Martillo. Operation Martillo is a joint international law enforcement and military operation involving U.S., European and Western Hemisphere partner nations, targeting illicit trafficking routes in the waters off Central America. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Hendricks/Released)

The other 10 craft has been at Bahrain for most of the past decade while Zephyr, Shamal, and Tornado– two of which were formerly Coast Guard-manned out of Pascagoula’s old NAVSTA– have been based in Mayport under 4th Fleet’s control– just about the only Navy vessels that are regularly outside of ships transiting through or on training evolutions.

This of course begs the question of, why not give the “old” LCSs to U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (USNAVSO/FOURTHFLT)? Call em PCs? Get some tax dollars out of them.

Is this where I point out that the lastest 4th Fleet deployments have surged DDGs? Wait, wasn’t the LCS program designed to prevent billion-dollar Aegis ships from being used in constabulary work?

Whomp Whomp.

Cry Havoc, and let slip…the LCS?

The 1911 Treasure Island pirates by Wyeth.

This month’s USNI’s Proceedings has an interesting piece by COL Mark Cancian, USMC, Ret, entitled, “Unleash the Privateers! The United States should issue letters of marque to fight Chinese aggression at sea.”

As the title would suggest, Cancian pitches the concept that modern-day LLCs could outfit ocean-going raiders, legalized by old-school letters of marque and reprisal to cover what would otherwise be acts of international piracy. The targets, in said scenario, would be the 6,000-strong Chinese/Hong Kong merchant/fishing fleet in the event of a hot war with Beijing.

Notes Canican:

Capitalizing on Chinese vulnerabilities requires large numbers of ships, and the private sector could provide them. The ocean is large, and there are thousands of ports to hide in or dash between. While the Navy could not afford to have a multibillion-dollar destroyer sitting outside Rio de Janeiro for weeks waiting for Chinese vessels to leave, a privateer could patiently wait nearby…

My thoughts on the good Colonel’s interesting concept is that it is one possibility, even if it is simply used as a threat. Project the prospect of the boogeyman and the boogeyman becomes very real, even if he isn’t under your bed.

What about the LCS?

Alternatively, I think we may have finally found a use for those first flight littoral combat ships (Freedom, Independence, Fort Worth, and Coronadothat have been deemed too beta to be upgraded enough for regular fleet use.

The LCS in its current form is fundamentally a “peace cruiser,” akin to the light cruisers built in the 1920s which were used primarily to show the flag in areas where it would be overkill to send a battleship– which probably wouldn’t fit inside the local harbor anyway.

You know what peace cruisers were also theoretically good for in the event of a war? Commerce raiders operating under Cruiser Rules away from the warzone.

Just saying.

140423-N-VD564-013 PACIFIC OCEAN (April 23, 2014) The littoral combat ships USS Independence (LCS 2), left, and USS Coronado (LCS 4) underway in the Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Keith DeVinney/Released)

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…

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.”

 

It’s really happening…

When the LCS was first proposed under the Streetfighter concept back in the day, everyone looked at the idea and thought it had at least some merit, especially for sea control with a growing number of surface challenges from in the Persian Gulf and South China Sea. But sea control involves having something bigger than a 57mm popgun and some 25’s to punch a hole in something over-the-horizon.

Well it looked like in the latest RIMPAC exercise, an LCS has finally gotten a Harpoon in the air. Of course it looks like a limited installation (topside weight issues?) such as seen on the Hamilton-class Coast Guard cutters of the 1990s, but it is still a Harpoon.

160719-N-ZZ999-007 USS CORONADO (July 19, 2016) USS Coronado (LCS 4), an Independence-variant littoral combat ship, launches the first over-the-horizon missile engagement using a Harpoon Block 1C missile. Twenty-six nations, 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 2nd Class Michaela Garrison/Released)

160719-N-ZZ999-007 USS CORONADO (July 19, 2016) USS Coronado (LCS 4), an Independence-variant littoral combat ship, launches the first over-the-horizon missile engagement using a Harpoon Block 1C missile. Twenty-six nations, 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 2nd Class Michaela Garrison/Released)

USS Coronado (LCS 4) launches harpoon missile during RIMPAC 2

However, all may not be Harpoon forever.

On Monday Lockheed Martin completed the third of three test shots to prove that their air-launched 500-nm range Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) can be fired from a surface ship on the move, launching from a Mk41 installed on the ex-USS Paul Foster off Point Magu.

In other news, it seems like the target for the SINKEX was the recently retired OHP frigate USS Thach which took a hell of a lot of abuse as did USS Crommelin (FFG 37), who was Coronado‘s (missed) target. Rather a poetic statement come to think of it.

Meanwhile, the latest Independence-class LCS, USS Jackson, was the subject of explosive shock testing so serious that the USGS thought it was a 3.7m earthquake.

Spotted, LCS and JHSV Building Together

Was passing through Mobile and saw this outside of Austal’s docks. The 418-foot long Independence-class (PCU) USS Coronado (LCS-4) and the 337-foot long Spearhead class Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) USNS Choctaw County (JHSV-2) which was originally ordered as the US Army Ship Vigilant.

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Both are under construction.

Coronado is set to commission this year and will be the second LCS to feature a high-speed trimaran hull and will be designed to (hopefully) defeat littoral threats and provide access in coastal waters for missions such as mine hunting, naval special warfare support, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare.

DSCN4491
Specs when finished of Coronado :
Displacement:     2,176 tons light, 2,784 tons full, 608 tons deadweight
Length:     127.4 m (418 ft)
Beam:     31.6 m (104 ft)
Draft:     13 ft (3.96 m)
Propulsion:     2× gas turbines, 2× diesel, 4× waterjets, retractable Azimuth thruster, 4× diesel generators
Speed:     40+ knots, 47 knots (54 mph; 87 km/h) sprint
Range:     4,300 nm at 20+ knots
Capacity:     210 tonnes
Complement:     40 core crew (8 officers, 32 enlisted) plus up to 35 mission crew
Sensors and
processing systems:
Sea Giraffe 3D Surface/Air RADAR
Bridgemaster-E Navigational RADAR
AN/KAX-2 EO/IR sensor for GFC
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
EDO ES-3601 ESM
4× SRBOC rapid bloom chaff launchers
Armament:
BAE Systems Mk 110 57 mm gun
4× .50-cal guns (2 aft, 2 forward)
Evolved SeaRAM 11 cell missile launcher
modular Mission modules
Aircraft carried:
2× MH-60R/S Seahawks
MQ-8 Fire Scout

DSCN4492
The JHSV was originally ordered by the US Army (yes, they have ships too)  to transport U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps company-sized units with their vehicles to forward areas ‘intratheather’. This is soft power” missions — responding to natural disasters, providing humanitarian assistance, conducting port visits and training partner military forces, among others. Its based on the Hawaiian Superferry. Since its built to commercial standards (its aluminum), manned by civilians(operated by the Military Sealift Command -MSC), has neither a well deck nor a landing ship bow ramp, and is unarmed (well there are four mounts for M2/Mk19/M240 style crewserved weapons if needed), its not capable of making ampibious assaults on hostile beaches. However it IS capable of everything but and the idea is that it will free up legit Ampibs for that purpose while it handles the light duty ‘operations other than war’ stuff in what is termed today as ‘permissive environments’. Of course it a situation like off the Somali coast, it could be used with CRRC type rubber boats with marines aboard, or SWCC guys in fast boats with frogmen.

But then again, look at what happened to the civilian crewed and unarmed RFA Sir Tristain and RFA Sir Galahad (both the same general size as the JHSV) in the Falklands . Hopefully the big blue will keep these JHSVs out of harms way as a lesson from 1982.

Specs when finished of USNS Choctaw County (JHSV-2)
Tonnage:     1,515 tonnes
Length:     103.0 m (337 ft 11 in)
Beam:     28.5 m (93 ft 6 in)
Draft:     3.83 m (12 ft 7 in) — that’s pretty shallow
Can turn in an 86 foot diameter
Propulsion:     Four MTU 20V8000 M71L diesel engines with Four ZF 60000NR2H reduction gears (waterjets, not props)
Speed:     43 knots balls out. (35 when fully loaded)
Range = 1200 nm
Troop Capacity = 312 seated airline style seats and 144 berths that can be rotated for long trips
Weight/cargo Capacity = 635 tons in a 20,053 square feet cargo area which could carry 280 cars, Abrams tanks, or 6 shipping containers with a loading ramp that can support the M1.
Crew = 22 MSC civilian mariners plus 17 USN commo/support
Cost = $250M each, $2.5B program
Aircraft carried: landing pad for upto CH-53 heavy-lift helicopter, ondeck storage space for HH-60 sized helicopter.