One LCS Class for the Gulf, one LCS Class for the Pacific

As expected, Navy officials are on the PR offensive with the Littoral Combat Ship program, saying the little ships will see combat from day one of any fight (you know, to counter the steady stream of reports that say the LCS can’t survive in combat).

In fact, the two classes of LCS, the Lockheed-Martin-built Freedom class with its conventional hull design and the Austal USA-built INdependence class with its trimaran hull, may each be concentrated in a specific region where they can exploit their strengths, Navy Undersecretary Bob Work said today.

Per AOL Defense:

While the Littoral Combat Ship is not suited for the front lines of a war with China, it would provide vital protection to US supply lines in such conflict, said Under Secretary of the Navy Robert Work, and against Iran, LCS would be in the battle from “day one,” with eight LCSs ultimately operating out of Bahrain. Indeed, the two potential theaters of war are so different that the Navy may consider focusing the “much more maneuverable” Lockheed Martin version of the LCS on fighting fast attack boats in the narrow waters of the Persian Gulf, while the very different General Dynamics design, with its larger flight deck and fuel tanks, operates primarily in the vast reaches of the Pacific.

“We like having two options,” said Work

  • Nick

    Ah, it’s a virtue that they couldn’t settle on one design! Their mistakes are now successes, these guys should do PR for the F-22 if they don’t already.

  • Benjamin

    You make the best use of what you have. I am glad someone is using common sense.

  • John Moore

    “We like having two options,”

    Problem is we can only afford one!

    • Fil

      Not really, competition keeps them honest and the prices lower. You’d be stuck maintaining two models anyways since you’d have the ships contracted before the downselect kicking around. Unless you want to just scrap a billion dollars worth of brand new ships.

      The real question is if you can afford any at all.

  • Nicky

    I have to wonder how many sailors and officers is the US Navy willing to sacrifice for some admirals ego and retirement. I’ll bet ya a case of beer, when the first LCS fatality hits the Media, Congress and the public will have a field day with US Navy.

    • Jeff

      My guess zero. My bet is that they’re simply going to use it against targets, like pirates, who can’t pose that substantial a danger, until such a time that they have the offensive modules worked out.

      Just remember half the ships the LCS is meant to replace were wooden hulled ships with only a .50cal machinegun defending them… to those its a significant step up. When it comes to replacing the Oliver Hazard Perry class, I think the LCS just reflects the Navy’s attitude of using air power as the primary extension of a vessels presence.

      • Big-Rick

        ok Jeff, the LCS is going to replace an entire mine sweeping class of ship and a entire Frigate class of ship and do this and do that and save the world from pirates and fight China and fight swarms of fast attack boats in the gulf and……..all with just a couple of mythical modules?

        a module completely replaces a mine sweeper with all of it’s very specialized gear
        a module replaces a frigate with all of it high end gear and weapons, it endurance, it’s toughness and large crew?

        next thing you’re going to say is that a module will replace a carrier and it’s air wing

        • Technoweapon

          Never underestimate Americans when it comes to inventing new things to kill other things with. More often then not it’s Science Fiction that proves to be our greatest inventions.

          Who knows? Maybe one module can detect a fish farting from 100miles out. Maybe the ship will have satellites up its sleeve that can launch weapons.
          Maybe we’ve got a laser system, like THEL, but actually effective and extraordinarily dangerous.

          Imagine being able to zap aircraft the second they show up on radar. Imagine that same weapon/module powerful enough to melt holes into ships.

          Imagine a weapons system capable of orbital strike capability.

          Mythical Science Fiction. So was everything else until it was invented. Here’s hoping for a truly game changing wild card.

          • You need an enormous power plant to effectively utilize directed energy weapons. They might come in handy on CVNs but that’s about it.

    • Pat

      That’s ridiculous. They’re just another ship so any casualty on them, destroyer, cruiser, or carrier will be in the headlines. Our FFGs have been toothless for years since their missile launchers were removed. All they have are their 76mm gun and CWIS which are purely defensive. Their original ASW capabilities are now minimal.

  • Ryan

    Can’t decide which you like better, just buy both! (every sales persons dream come true)

    • Jitter

      Not really, each company would much rather have only their ship bought…. Use your noggin.

  • Big-Rick

    Here’s is Bob 1984 Work’s world, we call it “BobSpeak”

    Failure IS Success
    Expensive IS Cheap
    No capability IS High capability
    No weapons systems IS Brimming with weapons
    Small crew IS Large crew
    Not survivable against a BB gun IS battle ready against anything
    high maintenance IS low maintenance
    massive shore staff IS low costs

    and lastly
    High stupidity IS Genius

    • Guest

      SECNAV Motto appears to be like the FAA’s:

      We’re not happy, till you’re not happy.

      it fits.

    • William

      Doubleplustrue RealFact! BB Approves.

  • Belesari

    “it would provide vital protection to US supply lines in such conflict”

    Really how would it do that? With the tiny gun up front which has a few kilometers range? Or its moduals……….oh wait those wont be ready till sometime next decade……

    But surely it could escort…….oh wait its speed is worthless as escort. Infact the thing would be forced to run or die if it ran up against some chinese FAC’s or god help it a destroyer.

    Oh i forgot it has helicopters!! The Chinese have jets, subs, helicopters and ships. They are closer to their supply lines. Have fun attacking those boats with those SeaHawks and what 4 hellfires maybe.

  • Belesari

    “and against Iran, LCS would be in the battle from “day one,” with eight LCSs ultimately operating out of Bahrain”

    Oh really. With more of those nonexistant weapons (even if they had the right moduals on board at the time) no doubt.

    Oh but wait theirs more. The Gulf is a great place for fast heavily armed FAC’s and Patrol vessels all of which outgun the LCS!

    Infact those ships will require heavy warships which could be out in their best area’s the blue sea’s to defend them from the vessels the LCS is supposed to defend THEM against….

    BUT hey 700,000,000 dollar warships backed up by $1,000,000,000 warships just incase actucal combat might start in one of the most chaotic regions on earth so those LCS can hunt pirates in fishing boats.

    OR we could buy rights to build absalons (which are already doing the job the LCS was supposed to but can’t) in US ship yards for far cheaper and with the same manning get 10times the firepower in a proven multirole frigate/command ship……………………

    But hey thats logical.

    • Klem

      But hey!

    • DanS

      Far cheaper, really? If you believe that, then I have a bridge to sell you.

      • Belesari

        Oh really Show me that bridge.

    • I’m a big fan of the Absalon class, too. They’re very well-designed & comparative inexpensive multi-role warships. I’d have to check the figures but I think they cost something like 1/2 or 1/3 of an LCS. They’re not fast (around 22 knots) but in a modern naval combat environment speed doesn’t provide nearly the advantage it once did. ASCMs, GPS & so forth render the advantage of a few knots speed rather moot.

  • Marcellus Hambrick

    The Navy is making mistakes in doing away with cruisers and relying on the LCS!

    • Nadnerbus

      Not doing away with cruisers, doing away with frigates and relying on the LCS. Still a mistake though. I would take one updated (to fire the Standard 3) Perry class over five LCS’s right now.

      • William

        Forget that! Get 4-5 commercially-built FACs, sink that fig, and scrap the LCS!

  • stephen russell

    Test out best design, then award that to the maker.
    Or test other LCS types off FL & CA & HI.

  • Noha307

    Two things on the LCS; the first a fear, the second an irritation.

    1. What worries me most about the LCS is the notion of mission modules. And this is ignoring the fact that they were and still are not ready when the ship entered service. My worry is based on the simple time tested truism: War is Chaotic. Question: What happens when you have a ship armed with a surface warfare module come up against submarines or planes and vice-versa? The answer: The ship is SOL. Pop in a new module you say? Okay, let’s send the ship back to port and have it rearmed and hope that in the mean time it’s not needed on station. History provides analogies. Consider the tank destroyer from WWII. The idea was that “regular” tanks would provide infantry support and tank destroyers would only attack enemy tanks. Unfortunately, you cannot anticipate when you are going to encounter enemy tanks as opposed to enemy soldiers. So the tank destroyer concept never really worked because the enemy would never cooperate and send their tanks to the TD’s and infantry to the “regular tanks”.

    2. This is more of a peeve, than an actual problem but… Will the military please get there nomenclature and designations systems in order? These ships are now named after 3 different things: ideals (e.g. Freedom), cities (e.g. Fort Worth) and people (e.g. Gabrielle Giffords). And what happened to the policy of not naming ships after live politicians? At least the Burkes and Ronald Reagan were named after people near the END of their lives. This continues a line of recently established blunders: SSN-21 and F-35. (A different, but acceptable idea would be for the names to be similar in some regard, but different between the 2 designs. e.g. West Coast cities for the LM design and East Coast cities for the GD design. That would have been cool! And best of all we could call to both designs together the “City-class”.)

    • Jeff

      I think 1. represents a misconception. The question that should be asked is when a LCS is equipped for mine counter-measure or anti-sub roles and not surface warfare… shouldn’t it be part of a battle group? As such it should be able to rely on other fleet ships for protection, just as the Avenger mine counter measure does because its wood and has only a .50cal machinegun.

      Those mine-countermeasure ships are a perfect example of why the Navy wants something like the LCS. In preparations for dealing with a potential bloackade by Iran, the Navy is shipping 4 of the Avenger class ships on a big tug. It’ll take several weeks to arrive. Not only could the LCS under its own power get their more quickly but even if it couldn’t the plan with LCS is that its modules are pre-positioned around the world, but even if they weren’t they can be flown in since they fit inside cargo containers. LCS allows for the compositional change of the fleet more rapidly and reduce the time it takes to organize the type of action the Navy is prepostered for near Iran. This ability to change mission modules is less an advantage to the indivdual ship and crew and more and advantage to the fleet.

      • Big-Rick

        sometime in the near future the USS Freedom is in the Persian gulf on a mine sweeping mission. The USS Freedom is an awesome mine sweeping platform with her fully equip suite of:
        AN/SSN-2 Precise Integrated Navigation System (PINS),
        AN/SQQ-32 Mine Hunting Sonar,
        AN/SPS-55 Surface Radar,
        AN/SLQ-48(V) Mine Neutralization System,
        AN/SQL-37(V)3 Magnetic/Acoustic Influence Minesweeping Gear,
        Oropesa type 0 size 1 Mechanical Sweep Equipment,
        MDG 1701 Marconi Magnetometer Degaussing System,

        she was already able to seep mines, but wait, USS Freedom just detected a missile launch on her sophisticated ESM gear: SLQ-32(V)2, Flight III with sidekick,

        next the ship’s long range radar the AN/SPS-49 picks up the vampires and passing this info to its CEC which then goes into full auto and selects and fires 4 ESSM, two at each inbound ASM

        The first ESSM misses the ASM as it changes course, the second ESSM gets a good hit, however the second ASM dodges both ESSM with a pop up move, so the CEC then engages with the Phalanx close in weapons system and rips it to shreds only 200 yards from the ship. The ASM explodes into a hundred sharp fragments and they bounce harmlessly off of the Freedoms’s tough steel superstructure.

        Now all is well, the USS Freedom goes back to sweeping mines without a minute lost nor a cup of coffee spilled

        But wait, the sonar crew just detected a enemy submarine 10 miles away with it’s AN/SQR-19 Tactical Towed Array Sonar….

        and here comes those pesky pirates again, time to warm up the frekin laser and engage warp speed….

  • Preston

    Get that Joint Air-Breathing missile ready Boeing or this thing is gonna be sunk. Quite literally.

  • Lance

    Time for less LCS more DD-1000 small escort ships will not deter Iran or North Korea ect. We need new BIGGER ships with alot of weapons to kick but with to make a deterrence. A small lightly armed LCS will not DO that.

    • Ara

      well she is not alone! dont forget about USS Enterprise, USS Ponce,those F-22s in UAE and so much more that I dont remember

    • William

      Wrong. We need more hulls; only a small portion need to be big ones. Lots of FACs, some PCs & MCMs, some LPDs, some LHA/LHDs redesignated as CVAs, and DDGs & CVNs will cover our surface needs. Scrap the useless frigates and cruisers, kill the DDG-1000 program, and put LCS on the back burner. Use a couple of decommed amphibs to test the LCS modules.

  • Guest

    LCS could adequately take over the role that other vessels are performing in the anti privacy patrols, enabling these vessels to be used in the conflict

    • Nadnerbus

      That is the only type of threat level they are good for though. True, they could be out on the gulf of Aden and elsewhere to free up higher end resources for higher end threats. But that is not what they have been sold as, hence the PR backtracking by under sec Work.

      If I were a sailor, I would not want to be assigned to one of these. Either they are fighting ships or they are second echelon ships. If they are fighting ships, they need more armor, more weapons, more redundancy, and more manning for damage control. If those things are not added (and they can’t without losing the speed the whole class was designed around), then they are just death traps waiting for the first ASM.

    • Belesari

      You dont build 700mil dollar ships to do anti piracy.

      • ziv

        Who said anything about anti piracy? Those guys have AK47’s and the odd RPG! The LCS is going to be utilized in the anti privacy role, mostly in the Med and the Caribbean. They are optimized for fast speeds so they can pursue and intercept cruise ships and then peek in the windows of the luxury ocean view suites, hence the anti privacy designation Guest referred to…

    • JTH

      Anti “Privacy” ??? sounds like TSA to me

  • hikerguy

    Our Navy will face many small boats and large rafts armed with machine guns, shoulder fired rocket launchers, and even those for suicide missions loaded with explosives if a conflict in the gulf arises. They could overwhelm an LCS given the right circumstances.
    It seems to me that a smaller and much cheaper group of craft, say similar to the PT boats of WWII or the riverboats we used in Nam ( I believe they are still in use today by SEALs) complete with motherships for rearming and support would be a good alternative.

    • WRG01

      A swarm to meet a swarm is not necessarily a bad idea. I would think that aerial assets would be better for both identifying targets and then executing or coordinating an attack. Our Persian Gulf experience to date should have taught us that we are susceptible to seaborne mines, attack aircraft and small watercraft laden with high explosives. We have lost/damaged ships to all three since the 1980s. Rememer the Stark.

      • STemplar

        This swarming boat silliness is just that. The one and only way the Iranians get to use that tactic is a surprise attack out of the blue. That lasts one day at best. If there is some period of increasing hostilities and a decision to move forces against Iran we are going to have ISR in place and if we plan on attacking our counter swarming boat force will dispatch the Iranians attack craft, they’re called F-18s armed with cluster bombs.

        • STemplar: It’s not at all silliness. FACs & modern diesel-electric subs represent a tremendous threat to thin-skinned, high-end warships. So do civilian craft that have been rigged with modern weapons systems A-Team style–concealment can be more effective then stealth. The Germans made extensive use of this tactic with their converted commerce raiders in WWII and worked really well. Also remember that most non-NATO countries (including a lot of folks who don’t like us) rely far more of area denial then power projection.

  • Nadnerbus

    I increasingly feel like the Navy is making it up as they go along in regards to the LCS. First, an admiral states that they would not be survivable in an anti-access area, and would not be deployed as such. Now they are front line warfighters. first they were going to choose the best hull for the job, then they chose both.

    When you can’t even paint the superstructure of a ship because it will cost crucial speed, it seems as if you might want to go back to the drawing board and start again.

  • ltfunk

    LCS present on day one, a burning hulk on day two.

    • Mastro

      My thoughts- Hey the USS Arizona was “present on day one” as well.

      • But the US figured out how to use its battleships, and used them extensively, after Pearl Harbor. Not a single US BB was lost in WWII after the Oklahoma (a training ship) and the Arizona at Pearl.

  • Roland

    And a 100 missile Iranian boats in the Gulf and 100 catamaran Chinese missile boats in the Pacific. Now are we checking our (USA) logistic checklist notebook ?

  • WRG01

    Ah yes, I keep the fat one around because she’s a great cook and gives good head. The skinny one is here because she can wreck you between the sheets and likes to watch Spike TV. The best of both worlds. Every man should have two LCS’s…

  • WRG01

    Wait. All this talk about the USN brass and the LCS class of warships is about actual ships? I thought it was code for Navy leadership being Lying C*ck-Suckers (LCS).

  • Tim

    What is a LITTORAL combat ship doing patrolling the “vast reaches of the pacific” ? Isn’t that a tacit admission that it can’t do what it was designed to do??

  • PolicyWonk

    While the US navy has sent unarmored vessels into battle (for example: WW2 PT boats), the difference between them and the LCS is that the PT boats were far better armed, and had the capability to really reach out and touch someone much bigger and cause serious damage. Even the envisioned armaments for the LCS are laughable in comparison.

    Designing a ship to be versatile and easy to upgrade/change is one thing. But to design something that is constrained/lightly armed from the start is a waste.

    • Right, modern FACs are pretty much the PT boats of the 21st century.

  • All involved admirals in this morass and contracting negligence need to be court martialed. All career and political SES’s need to be demoted to GS12s, or fired outright.
    How dare these miscreants endanger our brave Navy personnel with fourth rate, crappy ships. The contractor should not be paid and should be prosecuted under the False Claims Act.

    • I was leaning towards beheading them, personally. But hey, to each their own…

  • Nicky

    The LCS is a joke and a disaster in the making. It’s a disaster from day one it was born and no matter what front it’s on, it’s still a disaster for the US Navy and the Taxpayers who got conned into sinking money into this money pit.

    Who ever came up with the LCS crap, should be wearing orange jumpsuit and bussed to the nearest federal prison.

    The LCS as it is, is going to wind up killing some future sailor and some future officer who may have the misfortune of being assigned to those ships. All for the sake of some Admirals Alter ego.

    The best thing, the US Navy can do to save itself is to cancel the LCS program. Stop all current LCS production and decomission all the ones that are out their right now. Sell the remaining LCS to countries that need them such as the Philliphines or Iraq.

    Then replace the leadership at the top and replace those who will bring back a Multi Role Frigate to the US Navy and at the same time insitute the same safety measures that the Submarine community has such as SubSafe program that Admrial Rickover instiuted for the Submarine community.

    One thing the US Navy needs to do now, is have a long, long talk with the US Coast Guard about seeing if they can take part in the National Security Cutter program and buy into a modified version of the National Security cutter and turn one into a Patrol Frigate for the US Navy. They would just take the design and modify the design for Naval Frigate Standards and install Standard frigate, weapons, sensors and systems.

    The other option would be for the US Navy to buy the rights to a Multi-Role frigate from Europe and build it in America. Have the US Navy look at buying the designs of FREMM Frigate, Álvaro de Bazán class frigate, Fridtjof Nansen class Frigate, Formidable class Frigate or the Valour class Frigate.

    • Big-Rick

      I second the motion

    • Pat

      That’s not going to happen so quit dreaming.

  • Jayson

    Looks like a Canadian logo is on the front of them. pretty comical to see that.

  • Tad

    So if it’s to be used on the open ocean, is it really, after all, just a frigate? And if so, how does it stack up against MEKO and Visby vessels?

  • chuck

    My question is to they have a mission yet. You spend all that money then you try to find a job that they can do and neither can do any job very well. You want to keep them in different oceans but what you run out of the ones for one area do you go with second best. Im a retired Marine and I have never understood why they got this class of ship. You either sail 3 of them together or you have to take the time to go back into port to change out the moduals.

  • Rob

    This sounds like that the Navy is trying to make due for what they have. I look at this way, their stuck with these LCS Classes. Its expensive embarrsement for making them way they did, changing the design while their building them! Now their getting bunch of them, so their trying make them useful till they can scratch out something functional useful. I was in Navy, I feel bad for those guys on these ships.

    They want them to against dedicated Fast Attack Ships?? These LCS don’t even have their mission modules built yet. Royal Danish Navy who first built the Standard Flex module system for their Flyvefisken class patrol vessels, least had their modules build AHEAD of time before the keels hit the water.

    LCS are vulnerable to FACs and regular combat ships, making them very expensive poor man’s Coastal Patrol Ship or even Convoy Escort. I think the Navy has handful of problems trying make these ships useful. Independence class maybe more useful, but its aluminum hull is going big time problem maintain…

  • I think LCS must be canceled and replacement with sea shadow or stilleto program.

    • Pat

      The demonstration ship is being sold for the purpose of being scrapped.

  • Cave Man of NH

    Would everyone take a deep breath. My father served WW2 on submarines and afterwards was the Exec on two DE’s. There was a small ship but made to do a specific mission, basically ASW but it could also do a lot more. Sure it didn’t have missiles and electronic wiz bangs but I wouldn’t like to fly in an attack profile with that quad midships 40mm and the other single 40’s on each side. The Israil Navy developed a pocket vertical launch system for Seasparrow years ago that just bolted to the side of the conning tower. Bingo, anti air defense. Tin can saliors will make it work. It is the tradition of those who sleep hard on those small combatants that are the difference.

  • blight_

    The Navy could’ve bought a few of the export models of the LCS, which are smaller, ditch the modules and appear to have a more generic weapons fit.

    Not all of the LCS will be available for special missions, and if we acknowledge that we still need skirmishers and convoy escorts, we should procure the purpose-built versions that are best for it.

    Though I guess this is how they intend to spin keeping both shipyards fed with procurement contracts. Then again, it beats allowing one company to fall insolvent and the other to get really fat, which is what destroyed the military industry post-WW2 and post-Cold War.

  • George Gauthier

    Good idea. By all means send these LCS ships into harm’s way from day one where they will be speedily blown out of the water by the enemy. Then the Navy can set about buying one or more classes of those capable European frigates which are really designed for combat.

  • DennisJP

    Destroyers can do the job. They always have.

  • Francis

    The US Navy should have at least armed the LCS with ASROC, Harpoon missiles and Torpedoes to be able to defend itself because it’s current weapons is too deficient in capability and it is close to “useless’, and one more thing, I think it’s a waste of money coz it’s too risky to deploy it in hostile waters. – Just saying the truth.

    • Tiger

      In other words, the LCS is a less well armed PHMr

      • blight_

        Funny how in Vietnam the navy experimented with armed hovercraft and hoverfoils…and is still convinced that “Littoral” means the ginormous LCS.

        If we just call it an Armed Transport and leave it at that; then procure something like the PHM’s…