© Copyright 2020 Center for the National Interest All Rights Reserved. These problems caused the Navy to conduct an engineering stand-down of all littoral combat ships in September with a review of current training procedures and … He holds a Master of Public Policy and covers U.S. and Russian security, European defense issues, and German politics and culture. In October, an issue with the USS Detroit’s combining gear forced the vessel to return to port in Florida, an issue that has also struck the USS Little Rock in recent months, according to Defense News. While the other LCS Independence-class ship is said not to suffer from the same design problem, the entire Freedom-class may need new, redesigned bearing components to mitigate this latest problem—a task that would likely be taken up by Lockheed Martin, the Freedom-class designer. If anything, a fundamental propulsion issue might end up lending the LCS a new nickname: floating garbage pile. A terrible investment. The U.S. Navy Littoral Combat Ship USS Gabrielle Giffords fired an anti-ship missile at a target vessel during an Oct. 1, 2019 exercise off the coast of Guam.. The USS Montgomery, one of the Littoral Combat Ship vessels which have been plagued with problems. In addition, the Pentagon’s most recent OT&E review published in January affirmed that both of the Navy’s LCS variants are sitting ducks when it comes to defending themselves against anti-ship missiles, significantly lacking in critical defensive capabilities. The Littoral Combat Ship USS Detroit Is Limping Home To Florida After Breaking Down A key part of the ship's propulsion system that allows it to … Little Crappy Ship: None Of The Navy's Littoral Combat Ships May Deploy In 2018 A decade after USS Freedom was commissioned and multiple program restructurings, the Littoral Combat Ship … By Kyle Mizokami And the problems don’t end here—the Navy just uncovered yet another flaw, one that could see the entire Freedom-class stuck in port until further notice. Both the Independence- and Freedom-classes of ships will ultimately be replaced by the Navy’s new FFG(X), an Italian-designed frigate that the Navy would like to operate in lower threat situations, similarly to the LCS classes. Though their designs differ, their intended purpose is quite similar: they are meant to operate in littoral waters, or closer to shore than larger, blue-water navy ships. The LCS may have earned its reputation as a “little crappy ship” over the years, and the Defense News report suggests that confidence in the vessel’s actual at-sea capability is only going to collapse further among both Navy officials and lawmakers. Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program Congressional Research Service 1 Introduction This report provides background information and potential issues for Congress on the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), a relatively inexpensive Navy surface combatant equipped … The Independence class is a class of littoral combat ships built for the United States Navy.. Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee charged with oversight of the United States’ armed forces, opened a recent … “Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) – Program costs decreased $3,485.0 million (-9.3%) from $37,440.5 million to $33,955.5 million, due primarily to the decision to purchase 3 fewer ships resulting in a quantity decrease from 53 to 50 ships (-$2,945.7 million) and associated schedule and estimating allocations (+$150.0 million). The littoral combat ship Coronado returned to port Sunday after a high-profile engineering snafu that came only days after another LCS breakdown. On paper, both LCS ship classes offer a wide array of abilities on one platform. This is the first of a two-part series on the current state of the Littoral Combat Ship program. The Navy wants to slap a laser on a littoral combat ship for the first time. The ship is easy to reconfigure for different roles, including anti-submarine warfare, mine countermeasures, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, homeland defense, maritime intercept, special operations, and logistics. An additional three Freedom-class ships received engine overhauls after seawater penetrated their engines and caused extensive rust-related damage due to faulty gaskets. The Defense News report is just the latest in a string of frequent mechanical failures and embarrassing cost overruns that have undermined confidence in what was once envisioned as a relatively inexpensive surface combatant with an advanced modular design. Key point: They are expensive and weak.In fact, the Navy doesn't even want them. An issue with the Freedom-class propulsion system may necessitate a redesign. Caleb Larson is a defense writer for the National Interest. “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,” according to the Navy’s justification for the move. All rights reserved. Littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS-2) A superstitious person might be forgiven for thinking the U.S. Navy’s littoral combat ship (LCS) program, and in particular, the USS Montgomery , an Independence-Class ship, is the victim of a poltergeist. … LCS was originally inspired by the concept of a … © 2020 Brookline Media. In an emailed statement, a U.S. Navy official summarized the issue, stating: “The Government is investigating a material defect with the combining gear of USS Detroit and USS Little Rock, both Freedom variant Littoral Combat Ships. They are both also designed to be extremely flexible, with an array of mission modules that can be switched out while at sea to better respond to a number of contingencies, including fire support, patrol and convoy escort, or mine sweeping to name a few of their capabilities. The Navy is currently investigating a potential class-wide design flaw in its $500 million Freedom-class littoral combat ships that would require an aggressive engineering fix to address, Defense News reports, the latest issue to strike the much-maligned fleet of would-be surface combatants. US Navy prepares major surge of littoral combat ship deployments WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy is taking major steps in an attempt to shake off … Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background and Issues for Congress The Navy began procuring a small surface combatant called the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) in FY2005, and a total of 35 LCSs have been procured through FY2019, including three in FY2019. Photo: AFP/Alexandra Seeley/US Navy The US Navy is at the start of a process to dump the Littoral Combat Ship fleet and replace it with heavily armed frigates based on the highly successful FREMM system developed by France and Italy. A fundamental propulsion issue might end up lending the LCS a new nickname: floating garbage pile. Littoral combat ships are comparable to the corvettes found in other navies. The hull design evolved from a project at Austal to design a high speed, 40 knot cruise ship. The Pentagon’s Operational Test & Evaluation office’s 2018 review of the LCS fleet revealed alarming problems with the vessel’s combat system elements and a distinct lack of redundancies for vital systems necessary to reduce the chance that “a single hit will result in loss of propulsion, combat capability, and the ability to control damage and restore system operation.”, “Neither LCS variant is survivable in high-intensity combat,” according to the report. Design flaw and repair costs aside, both classes have also suffered from major cost overruns and have been critiqued as un-survivable in a high intensity combat environment. According to the OT&E report, there isn’t really any: the Navy “has accepted the risk of continued operations with a combat system that they have not operationally tested.”. One Freedom-class ship’s clutch failed to disengage en route to Nova Scotia from San Diego. Each vessel costs around $520 million, according to a recent Congressional Research Service report on the line. The concept behind the littoral combat ship, as described by former Secretary of the Navy Gordon R. England, is to "create a small, fast, maneuverable and relatively inexpensive member of the DD(X) family of ships." A serious design flaw could leave the entire class of Littoral Combat Ships dead in the water. Issues with the propulsion system on the littoral combat ship Little Rock, shown here, have raised concerns of a class-wide issue with the complicated drive train. Registration on or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Service. There are currently 10 Freedom-class littoral combat ships in service in the Navy fleet, with an additional seven hulls still under construction, according to the service’s fiscal year 2021 budget request. Disclaimer: I did not personally have anything to do with these vessels. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. The Littoral Combat Ships are represented by two classes, the Freedom-class and the Independence-class. The Littoral Combat Ship saga has been just another reminder of the Pentagon’s chaotic and illogical procurement strategy. After spending $30 billion over a period of around two decades, the U.S. Navy has managed to acquire just 35 of the 3,000-ton-displacement vessels. One Freedom-class ship’s clutch failed to disengage en route to Nova Scotia from San Diego. “A joint Navy and Lockheed Martin team with RENK AG, the original equipment manufacturer, are conducting a root cause analysis of this defect,” Naval Sea Systems Command told Defense News in a statement. This move is designed to shift away from the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) originally envisioned to perform many different tasks and afford the Navy greater flexibility in … In the end, the class’ potential propulsion flaw may not matter. The Director, Operational Test and Evaluation report released Wednesday specifies a host of concerns about the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship program, claiming problems with the … I have worked as a Naval Architect for the parent company that designed the “Independence” class ships, and whose subsidiary builds them in Alabama. Once the defect and scope of the issue is identified, the Navy will work with industry to repair these ships and return them to sea as quickly as possible.”. The Navy had previously turned the four hulls in question (the USS Freedom, USS Independence, USS Fort Worth, and USS Coronado) into non-deployable test ships in 2016 over — surprise! Two Years After Breakdown, This Littoral Combat Ship is Back in the Fleet The long repair period highlighted the many problems plaguing the Navy’s latest class of ships. But, both Littoral Combat Ship classes have been plagued with problems. The Marine Corps amphibious vehicle involved in a deadly mishap Thursday has a long history and was set to be... An ethics law that prohibits Department of Veterans... Get the latest in military news, entertainment and gear in your inbox daily. An oceangoing littoral combat ship sounds appropriate for the islands of the south china sea . The littoral combat ship (LCS) is a set of two classes of relatively small surface vessels designed for operations near shore by the United States Navy.It was "envisioned to be a networked, agile, stealthy surface combatant capable of defeating anti-access and asymmetric threats in the littorals." “The government is investigating a material defect with the combining gear of USS Detroit and USS Little Rock, both Freedom -variant littoral combat … — a series of engine problems, according to Military.com. In order to achieve the necessary amount of power output to reach these speeds, the class has to engage two diesel engines, as well as two gas turbine engines that are not used during normal sailing. “Although the ships incorporate capabilities to reduce their susceptibility to attack, testing of analogous capabilities in other ship classes demonstrated that such capabilities have limited effectiveness in high-intensity combat.”. If they could sort out the problems with the 'modules', crewing and a nearby base. The reason? Related: The Navy wants to slap a laser on a littoral combat ship for the first time, Jared Keller Key point: America's LCSs are really bad, but being able to hit another ship with a high-tech missile is a step in the right direction. An … The Littoral Combat Ship -- better known as the "LCS" or more recently, the "frigate" -- is arguably the Navy's smallest class of capital warship today. One of the issues may be the Freedom-class’s stringent design requirements. Early the next year, the littoral combat ship Fort Worth suffered a casualty to the combining gear in port when sailors accidentally ran the system without lube oil running through it. Due to its modular design, the LCS will b… A joint Navy and Lockheed Martin team with RENK AG, the original equipment manufacturer, are conducting a root cause analysis of this defect. While the Navy and Lockheed Martin investigate this issue, measures have been implemented to mitigate risk to all the in-service Freedom variant ships. According to Defense News, Navy personnel are currently exploring whether a fundamental design flaw in the LCS class’s combining gear — the complicated assembly that connects each ship’s power plants to its actual propulsion shafts for movement in the water — is responsible for a series of recent at-sea malfunctions in two ships’ propulsion trains. The missile-shot signals an important, if greatly delayed, expansion of the LCS’s weapons capability. One Independence-class ship suffered from damage to its drive shafts. But, both Littoral Combat Ship classes have been plagued with problems. Considering the LCS’s ongoing survivability issues, it’s no wonder that the Navy has been desperate to decommission its first four “less capable” LCS hulls this fiscal year as part of a broad shipbuilding roadmap focused on a “more capable, ready and lethal force,” according to Navy budget documents. (Or you could just declare a zodiac a ship) The trimaran Independence-class also suffered breakdowns in 2016, including a serious casualty on the Montgomery and the Coronado. The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program has been fraught with problems since its conception in the early 2000s. During the class’ design phase, one of the ship’s requirements was a high, 40 knot plus top speed. Consequentially, the transmission connecting the four engines to the ship’s propulsion shafts is said to be complex, and the combining gear bearings inside the ship’s clutch may be faulty and prone to failure. “But cancelling their modernization allows us to prioritize lethality and survivability where we need it.”. Despite these deficiencies, the Navy “has not tested these combat systems and does not plan to conduct further air warfare operational testing” of its Freedom-class LCS hulls “in their current combat system configuration,” according to this year’s OT&E review. Dec. 16 (UPI) -- A potential major design flaw recently discovered on the U.S. Navy's 10 active littoral combat ships could prompt expensive repairs and leave the ships in … View Jared Keller's articles. 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