Futuristic Ships Anchor US Navy Surface Plans


By Michael Fabey at Aviation Week’s DTI

As budget-cutters swipe at major Pentagon programs and sequestration threatens to tighten the leash on expected expenses, the U.S. Navy remains focused on building its future surface warfighting fleet, says Rear Adm. Thomas Rowden, Navy Surface Warfare Div. director.

And the service is pinning its hopes on futuristic ships like the DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class destroyer and the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS).

“I am also excited about the production progress of Zumwalt (DDG-1000), a marvel in design and technological development,” Rowden says in a blog from earlier this month. “During my recent visits to Raytheon in Rhode Island and Bath Iron Works in Maine, I was impressed with how closely the two facilities are working together to ensure the success of this incredible warship.” The ship is 65% complete, he says. “Zumwalt will set the tone for the next two ships, and our Navy will reap the benefits of these three for decades.”

The Navy is slated to build three of the new destroyers, which the Navy says will offer reduced manning, hybrid drive, unsurpassed stealth and ferocious firepower. The Zumwalt is slated to cost a bit more than $3 billion.

While the Navy is proposing to deploy only three DDG-1000s, the service has plans to buy an LCS fleet of about 55. The Pentagon estimates the total acquisition cost for the LCS sea frames alone is about $37.4 billion. The Navy also plans to develop and fund the interchangeable mission module packages the ships will carry.

“We must aggressively bring LCS into the fleet,” Rowden says. “With each successive ship, the shipbuilding process has become more efficient and we are achieving better results at lower cost. USS Independence (LCS-2) recently pulled into her homeport in San Diego after completing a series of successful Mine Warfare Mission Module tests off the East Coast, and Fort Worth (LCS-3) passed her acceptance trials with flying colors. The president of the Board of Inspection and Survey commented that LCS-3 had the most complete acceptance trials held to date, and the Navy formally accepted Fort Worth on June 6.”

While the Navy awaits its LCS and Zumwalt fleets, though, its first priority has to be to maintain the ships the service has now, Rowden says.

“We absolutely must ensure the ships in the water today work the way they were designed and that their systems are interoperable,” he says. “We will fix the systems that do not work properly and maintain the ones that do. This will ensure that our warfighters have systems that interact and share information in real-time, and will provide our commanders with the clearest — and most accurate — tactical picture to use when making critical decisions.”


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  • orly?

    The HSV, the Sea Shadow, I understand.

    LCS… and Zumwalt…

    Oy, not now

  • Musson

    The Navy wants the LCS to be to the oceans what the C-130 is to the skies- a do everything platform that can be transformed to the mission of the moment.

  • Jayson

    Looks good but there’s reports the lack of service capabilities requires external contractors which by law or constitution forbids foreign contractors requiring a team to be sent from the US to wherever the boat is docked to service. WOW the service cost just got jacked up for not having a self sufficient machine shop to conduct it’s own repairs.

    The drop in modules is catchy and wrinkles will need to be ironed out once it starts being put to practice but I think it'[s a great concept which helps speed up the overhauling down the road as well as the mission specific modules.

    If the costs can be contained it’s a great forward step imho.

    • ghostwhowalks

      Up to the late 50s, that was how small ships used to be maintained, only cruisers were designed to be self maintaining. Destroyers and frigates would return to port or a tender docked in a suitable location for all their maintenance. With the advantage that like modern airliners the equipment sends its own diagnostics back to the maintenance base so the parts and manpower are ready and waiting… in theory

      • tiger

        We have no more dd tenders & only like 3 sub tenders in the fleet today.

  • Superraptor

    The LCS needs to be cancelled it. It is a ship without antiship missiles and easily defeatible by an Iranian or Chinese missile boat. Buy non-nuclear subs instead such as the U212.

    • HeavyArrow

      The LCS isn’t defenseless, did you even read the article my good sir? It said that the modules are interchangeable, meaning that holy cow Batman! You can remove or add whichever module will be needed! What a novel concept! Anti-ship module? You got it! Anti-Air Module? You got it! A little bit of both worlds? Why the hell not?

      If there’s a battle group that has LCS, they will not ALL be one mission, there will be different modules on different ships.

      As for buying non nuclear subs, we have no use for them. Why buy something when you already have something that fills the role of an attack sub?

      • The modules have not been designed yet. So for the foreseeable future Superraptor is essentially correct

        • ghostwhowalks

          Oh yes they have been tried with modules like a complete CIWS , once in port if its a long stay the module is offloaded to either maintenance , another boat or storage . Its the naval version of a hot sheets motel

      • Superraptor

        None of the modules include antiship missiles such as the Harpoon. Any of the missiles deployed will be short range.
        It is going to take 45 days to change a module.
        Even the submarine module does not include any weapons. So you are basically spending 800 million dollars on a ship without weapons. What adisaster. Can’t we learn from the Israelis and build highly weaponized ships for less money? The USN is in trouble, my friend.

        • Guest

          Oh, let’s be fair to the LCS. Probably, pretty soon, they will be fitted with Griffin missiles, which like their ferocious 5 inch gun will make the LCS extremely lethal against rafts, rowboats, and small sailing vessels.

          • Raraavis

            5 inch gun you wish. The LCS has a 2.25″ (57mm) main gun.

            Your right the Surface Warfare Module is now is built around Griffin Missiles with a 13lb warheads and a 12 mile range, half the range the NLOS missiles were suppose to have.

          • Praetorian

            To bad, the LCS does not have a 5 inch gun, just a 57 mm gun.

          • Praetorian

            @Raraavis : Whats even worse is the Griffin missile being used is the Griffin block 2 B which has a range of 15 km when fired from the air, but only 5.5 km when fired from the surface.

      • Tiger

        I’d rather have 55 WW2 Fletcher class DD’s than the LCS.

        • ghostwhowalks

          Are you descended from a russian admiral circa 1905.
          I suupose you would prefer a dozen WW2 Mustangs rather than the original LWF, the F16A

          • Tiger

            For the mission, they bring far more to the table, Could be mass produced & with upgrades were the back bone of the USN for 30 years. They had speed, endurance, & could handle sub, air & surface threats.

          • ghostwhowalks

            Dont forget the 350 crew per boat, reinstate the draft to make sure they are crewed and reopen the plants that produce ships boilers , they must have the old blueprints somewhere

      • Big-Dean

        HeavyArrow, sorry to inform you but the “modules” of which you so highly speak are simply vaproware. We have yet to see a single module after what, 10 years and untold millions of dollars wasted

        There is no module in existence or on paper that can made this travesty a warship

  • Tad

    The ship in that picture reminds me of Pinocchio. I wonder if the prow lengthens whenever the Navy tells the world that the LCS is wonderful.

  • Nicky

    The LCS is a JOKE to the Taxpayers. The need to cancel the LCS and go with a Multi Role Frigate with Littoral Capability. European Navies have frigate designs that have Littoral capability. As for the LCS, it is nothing more than a glorified coast guard cutter painted grey.

    As for getting Type 212 subs, I can see a Type 212 sub for Special operations command .They have have a sub that can sneak right up to the harbor and even get right up close and personal. Even use it as a gate guard for the CONUS, coastal littoral area and even as a guard for Boomers in Boomer banks.

    • Raraavis

      and the Coast Guard has the National Defense Cutter which is essentially a stripped down Frigate.

      The Europeans are fielding multi-purpose Frigates for the same cost as a LCS + a mission module.

      • Nicky

        Which is why the US Coast Guard is the only ones left operating a frigate like ship. Which is why the US Navy needs to kill the LCS program and go with the NSC or a European designed frigate

    • tiger

      Stupid pride is why. Bloom & Voss has designs off the shelf ready to go That could do the same mission, cheaper & built to a better quality. The DDG1000 is nothing more than a jobs program pay off To SEN Snowe & Collins.

      • Nicky

        Which is why Bloom & Voss has some designs that the US Navy could have brought off and paid the rights for

      • William C.

        The DDG-1000 will still be useful in terms of technology development and proof of concepts. Say what you want about the LCS, but there aren’t any ships like the DDG-1000 yet.

        • Nicky

          Say what you want about the LCS crap but we all know the LCS is a piece of JUNK

  • rich

    Anyone else wondering the sanity of Adm Rowden? He is asserting the future of the fleet is just 3 new battleships. Forget LCS, they aren’t being sold as bluewater fighting ships but as gun boats able to fight in narrow waters.
    Just 3 ships denotes the future of our fleet? If so, we will have a fleet like Britain in a couple decades.

    • Raraavis

      The Navy has canceled the program to build long rannge shells for the DDG-1000 Zumwalt 6 inch guns. Now the unarmored 7 billion dollar Battleships have to come with in range of cheap truck mounted shore launched anti-ship missiles in order to hit a target on the beach with their main guns.

      • Raraavis

        I stand corrected the Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP) program ended up not being canceled. They tested the rocket assisted 6 in shells at a range of almost 52 miles in 2011. I hope they get this worked out because without it the ship has virtually no purpose.

      • blight_

        By the time the anti-ship missiles that challenge a landing are gone, the range advantage by going guns only evaporates.

        What might be interesting is to one day use Tactical Tomahawks for reconaissance and to spot for cruise missile attacks. Though we need to develop a more economical means than Tomahawks but something with more effect than guns, especially extended range projectiles which are usually rocket boosted and trade away explosive power.

    • joe

      Three new *Destroyers*. Let’s not over-egg the Zumwalt. The USN’s been doing that for us.

      Given that the cruiser-weight variant got cancelled, it’s quite a cause for concern.

      • blight_

        The Zums are quite large compared to the Burkes, and the Burkes weren’t that much smaller than the Ticos…

        • Riceball

          To be fair, the Ticos were built on a destroyer hull so saying that the Burkes aren’t all that much smaller than a Tico really doesn’t say that much.

          • blight_

            Indeed…they were built on Sprucan hulls, even though Sprus were in the books as DD’s to the CG. Makes you wonder why they did it. Perhaps it was political?

            Is it true some Sprucans were refitted with VLS tubes? It would make the whole DD/CG argument rather semantic and for chestpuffery…then again, we did recomission the BB’s because the Soviets deployed the Kirovs…and before that, the cruiser gap, and before that, the bomber gap…

          • Sgt C

            The VLS for the Spruances gave them ESSM’s and Harpoons and Tomahawks. They never did get anything more than self-defence anti-air capability. That’s the big difference between them and Tico’s.
            Also, the Spruance were 7800 tons to start. Already in cruiser territory, they were called destroyers because they were optimized for ASW and had no area anti-air capability.
            So the argument wasn’t really semantic. In the USN CG denotes multi-mission capability. DD means mainly ASW.
            Now the difference between the Tico’s and the Burkes on the other hand is pretty much nil.

          • blight_

            No SPY-1, essentially.

            I thought the Perrys were ASW, and they were still -G?

            Anyways, I imagine the Navy was shuffling around ship designators during the Cold War, and had done so more than once. DE’s were anti-sub and became the frigates, DD’s were anti-surface and maybe were repurposed for ASW or AAW during the Cold War…

  • PolicyWonk

    The navy has been telling this story about LCS and they’re sticking to it – despite the short legs, lack of ability to protect itself, or ability to “reach out and touch someone” at long range (not even a box o’ harpoons to make someone think twice).

    The national defense cutter (up armored and weaponed) would likely be a better (and cheaper option). It has the legs, and could share hulls with the USCG.

    The Zumwalts are being built by Bath Iron Works – one of the finest shipyards in the nation by any standard. But they have yet to be proven – and given their price tag many feel the navy will be reluctant to put them in harms way (which remains to be seen). And three “destroyers” (very large, almost battleship sized by tonnage) doth not a navy make.

    A bunch of folks I know think we’d be better off with more Burkes…

    • STemplar

      The national defense cutter wouldn’t come in cheaper, but lll go with better in that it could be bought tomorrow and operational a hell of a lot faster. Although it may end up cheaper as we have no idea what kind of dev hell remains for the modules.

      In general I wish there was more attention being paid to leveraging existing commercial options into military ones. The S class conversion Maersk offered for the AFSB leaps to mind. I think there are alot of things that could be done with the JSV that should have been. Point being there are existing options that would have provided more hulls for the same money we are throwing around or the same # of hulls for less, we just always seem stuck in the custom development options.

      • blight_

        And then to make custom development look better, we market some sort of “joint” solution…

  • tiger

    Before the Navy goes off building new stuff; how about the dealing with the backlog of stuff that needs scraping or Sinkex?

  • Big-Dean

    until Sailors with ‘stars’ (0-7 and above) actually star ‘manning’ these crappy little ships nothing will change-the happy talk will continue…

    the most danger any admiral will ever face is getting hit by a stray golf ball. They will never have to face the enemy in these pathetic aluminum coffins

    • ghostwhowalks

      I think the only sea going Admiral job is a two star for a deployed Carrier battle group

  • Raraavis

    The LCS ships will go 50kts so they are designed well to run from fights. Thank God we doubled the price of the ships to get that capability.

    • Big-Dean

      I hear the next one is going to be name the USS Sir Robin

    • blight_

      50 kts against aircraft and missiles?

      Or are we running from speedboats?

      On the plus side, after a Boghammar dumps it’s anti-ship missiles (and gets them shot down by CIWS or whatnot) you can run over the Boghammar and cut it in half a la PT-109

  • For all the money spent on these ships, a little more time spent pinning down the concepts would have given better value for money.

    The Freedom class LCS might actually have some future in something like its intended role; but they should swap the gun out for a 76mm before churning out the full production run, and perhaps pick an engine option that loses 10knts off the show-off speed in exchange for endurance.

    Pull the plug on the Independence asap; though haven’t the first dozen already been funded? Build those, then pick an off-the-shelf frigate. BAe will sell you the finished Type 26 design for peanuts once you’ve knocked out the tubs already paid for.

    • HGR

      The Freedom is the one that is having buoyancy issues when deploying underwater systems. It is a really nice looking ship and excellent for a place like the Persian Gulf.

      The Independence has sea keeping problems but it is probably the most capable and flexible of the two versions.

      Larger guns are not needed. A small missile for over the horizon (NLOS) strikes is a priority and will make a bigger gun unnecessary.

      They are nice ships.

  • blight_

    LCS=Looting Coffers and Savings.

    And we will probably need to commission an LCS tender to switch modules at sea and to support LCS units.

    Bath Iron Works?

  • paperpushermj

    Any one picking up on the US Navy being composed of a FEW High Tech very expensive Ships. Just what is the size of the Navy dropping down to?

    • blight_

      We already put our eggs into the 12 CVN basket…which in turn may drop a little.

      I’m kind of curious what happens in submarineland after the Virginias. Are we going to have a new SSBN/SSGN? Would we go with a common build to increase economies of scale? I imagine the heart of the nuclear triad is still sea-based, and ensuring a large build-out will get that procurement through Capitol Hill…yum, grease.

  • Justsayen

    I felt there is a need to look at China’s DF-41 and other types of their (ICBM) ballistic missile defense (BMD) developments before developing these ships for the country’s defenses and that of our allies. I felt China, North Korea and Iran poses more threat than Russia. Also diplomacy and prayers can counter weight any threats.

  • Woody

    When I read all you that are seemingly well-schooled in defense matters, why is most posts here a plethora of conspiracy theories of making US weaponry less than it could be? You all seem to be of the thought there is nothing but deceit and people designing weapons for the US to be worthless or not as good as other country’s ships, planes, tanks..etc etc?……are there just people and the congress just lining their pockets with tax-payer monies?……help me out here, I am obviously not near as knowledgable in such matters…..

  • Noj

    You could buy 26 Sejong class destroyers for what we’re paying for 2 Zumwalt’s and 28 LCS. Swap out one of the two Seahawks for an Apache and you’ve got your littoral punch back.

    3120 VLS cells to 160. Tough choice.

    • Guest

      Two Apaches, zero Seahawks

    • blight_

      Or even more Burkes.

      If we’re going more Burkes, drop some Ticos which are getting long in the tooth.

    • Raraavis

      The Spanish are building large Aegis equipped frigates with a Mk 45 5″ Guns and 48 VLS cells loaded with anti-air and anti-ship systems for $1 billion a piece.

      About the cost of two LCS frames without any mission modules.

  • Jsmith

    Apparently they don’t think sequestration will stop them but that remains to be seen.

  • blight_

    I guess people are going with their own LCS.

  • Roland

    The cost could wipe out the treasury. Need to check the material used, labor, sales man commission, bill of materials cost, armory and inventory.

  • Jeffrey

    The front looks unstable

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