Inside story of the Navy Littoral Combat Ship

| September 11, 2023

I will freely admit, after years of denigrating what I thought of as a bloated ineffective program, that the parent article took me by surprise. Bluntly, I thought the LCS was a POS. Turns out I was wrong… it’s far worse.  I only have space for a few quotes from a lengthy article, so I compressed them a bit – I would recommend reading the whole thing.   All from

Each ship ultimately cost more than twice the original estimate. Worse, they were hobbled by an array of mechanical failures and were never able to carry out the missions envisaged by their champions.

Chief among the champions was evidently Obama’s SecNav, Ray Mabus. But for the ships themselves:

Former Lt. Renaldo Rodgers remembered laboring in San Diego from sunrise to sunset for months to ready the Freedom for a 2012 trial mission to San Francisco, only to have the ship break down during pretrial tests.

The lifetime cost of the LCS class may reach $100 billion or more.

“In the end,” he (John Pendleton of the GAO – ed.) said, “the taxpayers get fewer than 30 limited-survivability, single-mission ships.”

The original idea was a fast, relatively shallow-draft ship with interchangeable mission kits – 50 mph, able to interchange a gun turret with an anti-sub warfare (ASW) or minesweeping kit, easy interchangeability of components and crew.

In 2002, Adm. Vernon Clark stared down from the deck of a Danish warship at a pier in Denmark and watched a demonstration that would shape the future of the U.S. Navy.

A large deck gun sat below. On the orders of a Danish navy official, a crane hoisted it off the pier and installed it on the ship. Within 40 minutes, sailors were rotating the weapon to prepare it for operation.

Clark thought we needed a system like that (which we never achieved.) What we got were two separate platforms. One single hull ship, one trimaran, both from different builders, so different that their crews and components required totally different training. But by being built in two yards, spreading the jobs through two sets of politico’s realms to ensure political support.

In response to the Navy’s goals, the contractors both based their original ship designs partly on high-speed ferries for cars or passengers, an unusual choice for a vessel meant for war not transportation.

Costs began to rise dramatically. The ships were originally supposed to cost no more than $220 million dollars each, which had helped sell them to Congress in the first place. But the final price tag rose to about $500 million each.

Then we read of the initial success – or lack thereof:

On the morning of Nov. 23, 2015, the USS Milwaukee set out across the frigid waters of the Great Lakes for its maiden voyage.

The Navy planned to sail the Milwaukee from the shipyard on the shores of Lake Michigan in Marinette, Wisconsin, to its new home port of San Diego. From there, it would eventually join its sister ship, the USS Fort Worth, in helping to counter the Chinese navy’s expanding presence in the Western Pacific.

On Dec. 11, about three weeks into the two-month journey, a software failure severely damaged the Milwaukee’s combining gear — a complex mechanism that connects the ship’s diesel engines and its gas turbines to the propulsion shafts, producing the power necessary for it to reach top speeds.

A Navy salvage ship had to tow it some 40 miles for repairs at a base near Norfolk, Virginia. The ship hadn’t made it halfway down the East Coast — let alone to the South China Sea — before breaking down.

The article goes on to describe the multitude of engine problems, yet political boosting by Mabus and lawmakers from both parties.

Read the article – it’ll make you long for the good old days under totalitarian regimes when politicians and contractors who failed were summarily shot.


Category: "Your Tax Dollars At Work", Navy, Politics

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The idea of a small, light, flexible Navy Ship has been a failure since the time of Jefferson. What made this one so special was that it was a bad idea from the get-go. They didn’t just fail big and hard It was spectacular.

Once you understand the idea that the movie The Pentagon wars isn’t a comedy it’s actually a documentary, You get the idea.


What’s a bigger waste of money?
The LCS program?
The Zumwalt Class?


The LCS spent more and cost more. The Zumwalt might be more useless.

For the price of the two programs together they could have built ten more aircraft carriers or 70 Arleigh-Burkes both which are good boats.

Instead we get zilch.


The Pentagon Wars is one I need to rewatch.


The purpose of the LCS was to ensure that taxpayer dollars went to the appropriate supporters of the politicians and lobbyists advocating for LCS, nothing more.

Mission accomplished.

AW1 Rod

Also to give O-4 SWOs a Command at Sea ribbon.


Actually, that’s four O-4s in the manning bill. Both captain and XO are O-4s (or were last time I researched it), and there are two crews per “ship”.


“Not my money.”


“a software failure”

It was the Cylons who did this.

Hack Stone

Hack Stone would just like to reiterate that when the sale of the Red Hat and Y3K software from the proud but humble woman owned business was completed with the US Navy, they declined the rust proof undercoating. They even initialed that they declined on the sales contract.


Our LCSRON Chief’s Mess coins had “The Future of The Fleet” emblazoned across the front of it.

I keep it in the front of my Challenge Coin shadow box.

It always gives me a chuckle on any bad day.


Yeah, we’re screwed.

Old tanker

Maybe I am being naive, but from the little posted here, other than the helo pad / hanger what did this ship do that the Fletcher class DD didn’t do?




Maybe we can get some salty old Chiefs to commandeer the Missouri if needed. It worked in the movie.


Little Crappy Ship, indeed! You call for Big Mo, SFC D? Here ya go. The future US Navy…or our Beloved AW1Ed sailing the Seven (7) Seas, looking for memes to steal…

comment image


I need to get one. I’m Army, but that’s AWSOME! I’m sure I’d get all of the looks paddling down the water ways here locally.


For the turrets, use trios of those 1/2 inch blackpowder “signal cannons”.


Anna Puma

Mabus and all the other supporters of the LCS should be keelhauled. But not under any LCS as that would be too short but a Nimitz class carrier.


Flogging around the fleet at a minimum.


I would suggest the Arizona…


The Milwaukee blew a tranny?

Irony or foreshadowing?

I can’t believe the whiz kids at the 5-sided puzzle palace couldn’t see all the problems with the engineering, concept of operations, limitations, exposure to new forms of weapons and tactics (like drones) and the scapegoats that would have to be made when this failed.

Now I’m no navy operations genius but wouldn’t that $17-or-so billion have been better spent on those metal tubes that can hide ‘neath the waves?


NAVSEA should’a learned from NAVAIR’s A-12 stealth attack bird debacle. This is where the Good Idea Fairy meets Dr. Lighbulb’s requirements creep. On steroids, backed by the bobbleheads in the Puzzle Palace and enthusiastically embraced by industry. After all, industry claims are what started this shipwreck.

The back breaker was combining a new minimal crew concept where maintenance at sea will no longer be a constant need due the other half- advanced soft and hardware seamlessly meshing into a “System of Systems.” Whatever could go wrong?

The systems should never have passed Developmental Test. That they did tells me arm-twisting and CYA was in full effect as the failures became glaringly obvious and the testing folks were told to stuff it. Again.

Here’s a valentine from Lockheed Martin. This was produced long after the flaws were becoming more and more apparent:

I watched video from an LCS sea trial- the freakin’ deck gun wouldn’t shoot. The Perfumed Princex who OK’ed this should be recalled.


A system of systems is a great concept in theory. However, the money and “smart people” never consider what to do when one of those systems fail and it causes another to fail and see-on, until you’re combat ineffective.

They never ask the dudes who actually work on $h17. Ever notice that?




It was called cascading failures and was awesome to watch happen during test. I’d then write up a Part I deficiency bringing testing to a halt and wait for the fix.

This drove the Program Office insane of course.


It always comes down to a problem with dealing with the man in the little boat.


That a lot of men can’t find in the dark…using both hands, a map, and a flashlight.


The glaring problem was who thought that sending a thin skinned ship close to enemy territory to be shot at was a good idea? The whole clown crew who approved this must have been transported back to the civil war.

Bad idea, bad design, bad crew size, bad production costs. It is almost as if the Army Corps of Engineers designed a ship.


We know that, but the brass in the Pentagon said,

“Ooooh, look what we can do with all our Special Forces guys on these things!”


Or if the Navy mounted turboprop engines on a C-130 airframe.


Shots fired…


The funny thing was that Admiral Clark saw the Danish ship demonstrate the modular technology.

The obvious choice was to just buy some examples of the ship from Denmark.
Surely the Danes could come to the states and build it in an American shipyard


So, in my “non-Navy” mind, this was supposed to be a “Lego” type system, which sounds good and makes sense, but didn’t have enough development work on the front end.

Sort of like the WIN-T commo system! Wait, did I say that out loud?


Yeah you did. Ranked up there with the Tri-Band system (AKA “cry band”).




They crossed a Destroyer Escort / Frigate

With a pickup truck

And missed

Peter the Bubblehead

I used to work for the program that created and maintained the maintenance procedures for the LCS classes. Everyone I knew from the top Admiral to my civilian co-workers knew LCS meant “Little Crappy Ships.”