Fixing first four littoral combat ships not worth it, US Navy says

| March 7, 2020


The littoral combat ship Coronado, only six years in service, is on the chopping block to be decommissioned, the U.S. Navy announced. (U.S. Navy)

Mason sends us this, in my opinion, completely unsurprising and long overdue recommendation. I always thought these ships were a solution in search of a problem, and they certainly did highlight a lot of issues- insufficient testing, counting on technology that wasn’t ready, and relying on automation instead of humans to name but a few. So good call by Rear Adm. Randy Crites. Stop throwing good money after bad.

By: David B. Larter

WASHINGTON – The cost of upgrading and repairing the first four littoral combat ships is too high and it’s better just to decommission them, the U.S. Navy’s budget director said during the service’s budget roll-out.

Following a string of engineering casualties, mishaps at seas and leadership problems, a 2016 reorganization of the littoral combat ship program designated the first four ships – Freedom, Independence, Fort Worth and Coronado – test vessels to be used to figure out how to fix the LCS fleet.

The hulls have accrued between six and 12 years of service but their usefulness as test vessels is waning and they’re no longer worth a deeper financial investment, according to Rear Adm. Randy Crites, the deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for budget.

“Those four test ships were instrumental to wringing out the crewing, the maintenance and all the other things we needed to learn from them,” Crites told reporters during the Feb. 10 budget roll out. “But they’re not configured like the other LCS in the fleet, and they need significant upgrades. Everything from combat [systems], to structural, you name it. They’re expensive to upgrade.”

Split between two variants — a line of traditional steel monohull warships and another featuring an aluminum trimaran design — the LCS was intended to serve as a fast and nimble warship, capable of morphing into a minesweeper, antisubmarine vessel or ship killer.

But Crites said the first four ships had become less relevant for “great power competition” and money could be spent on better options.

“They’ve played an important role and we’ve certainly ramped up our employment [of the LCS],” Crites said. “That’s a good thing. But when we looked at our return on investment and the cost of bringing those ships up to speed, they’re important, but in the context of great power competition they were less important. So, we took those savings and applied it to other areas.”

Nice spin and wordsmithing, Admiral. These ships had “Not ready for prime time” written all over them. Read the rest here: Defense News

Thanks, Mason.

Category: "Your Tax Dollars At Work", Guest Link, Navy

Comments (51)

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  1. 26Limabeans says:

    Literally useless.

    • Secundius says:

      Right, and the “Arleigh Burke’s” are stellar performers! One nearly got sunk by a fiberglass speedboat barely moving faster than the current, managed to get so close, that the Mk.15 CiWS was total useless and the twin .50’s couldn’t depress down enough to engage the boat. And anyone hanging over the side with either a M4 or M9 couldn’t engage either. Two nearly sunk by Container Ships the size of a small island that no one on the bridge could detect with simple navigational radar, or see using Mk.1 eyeballs. And one just recently being damaged but a Harbor Tugs that drifted into the side of is hull…

  2. Slow Joe says:

    The LCS looks amazing in the pictures.

    What’s the asking price for one of those?

    • RGR 4-78 says:

      “What’s the asking price for one of those?”

      It could be turned into a “Bill Gates” class yacht.

      • AW1Ed says:

        You could have a hockey game on the thing’s aft helo deck. This is more what I was used to.

        h2 landing ffg

        • 26Limabeans says:

          Whats in the white box? Is that like one of those roof top luggage carriers?
          ExCargo?
          That hanger could stage a rock band and
          the deck could hold the audience.
          A floating USO tour!

    • AW1Ed says:

      Scrap aluminum can bring as much as about $.50/pound. USS Coronado displaces some 797 metric tons deadweight. Do the math.

      • Mason says:

        I went to the same math class as Brian Williams. So if I did the math right, that means that if we scrap just one of these ships, we could give every American a million dollars.

    • SFC D says:

      It’s aluminum. More suited to Bud Light cans.

      • Club Manager, USA ret. says:

        Who drinks Bud Light anymore? Probably loved the PBR in Nam.

        • timactual says:

          PBR, Hamm’s, Olympia, “33”, tiger, anything we could get. Cold or warm.And I enjoyed every room temperature drop of all of them.

          Also Pepsi, Coke, Orange soda, if it was wet and bubbly and didn’t taste like Kool-Aid I loved it.

        • SFC D says:

          Slow Joe loves his Bud Light.

      • The Other Whitey says:

        I remember reading that USS Belknap had an aluminum superstructure, and that said metallurgy led to Very Bad Things when the ship caught fire. So naturally the Navy decides that their takeaway from that experience should be to build the whole ship the same way.

  3. Cameron K. says:

    I am not in the military nor am I a maritime/naval engineer (nor to I play one on TV), but it seems to me that it would have been better if the Navy had just invested the money into a class of new frigates instead and use this one as a test bed only rather than just wasting funds on putting (more accurately rushing) it into production when no one even knows if it will properly work or not and not properly testing it or any of the new technology on top of that. Plus, the thing looks like it has almost no teeth. A new frigate based off of an upscaled version of the Coast Guard’s National Security-class cutter, with more armament added to it sounds like a much better idea. Good riddance. Many people in the WARSHIPS! group I am apart of on Facebook had said that these things where a major mistake with some of them going even further and basically referring to them as oversized speedboats.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FFG(X)

    • The Shipbuilding Engineer says:

      The LCS was designed for a totally different roll than a frigate. It was designed for shallow water, fast action scenarios. For example, getting special forces in close for near shore deployment then get out quickly. That, and to fight pirates near the coast. It has other roles as well, but those were the main design points. So, it was supposed to be fast, shallow draft and cheap… nearly disposablly cheap.

      As for scrapping the first units… not surprising, given the first ones were built during the learning curve. There were lessons learned on the first ones that got implemented on later hulls.
      As for your friends’ comments about them being toothless and worthless and being a big mistake… try to remember, there was a time these same things were said of the premier vessel of the modern Navy: the carrier. The carrier was, at the time, a laughable idea, and a waste of resources when battleships could have been commissioned instead. Obviously, I’m not saying the LCS will be the next naval centerpiece, but much of what has been tried & many lessons learned will undoubtedly make out Navy better.

      • Cameron K. says:

        Could have just purchased a corvette instead since that’s basically what these are. And they are not my friends, they are just members of a group I am a part of. And I think I made it perfectly clear that the LCS should have been properly tested first which it clearly wasn’t. So forgive me if I’m a bit cynical.

  4. Fyrfighter says:

    Ok, not really related to the issue at hand, but when reading the title, or the name of these ships, am I the only one that sees / thinks “little man in a boat”/…

    Yah, I have issues..lol

    • AW1Ed says:

      Well that didn’t take long.
      *grin*

    • MSG Eric says:

      I’ve been calling it the Clittoral Ship for years.

      Boom!

      • 5th/77th FA says:

        This mean the Clit Ship is in a crack? Big Navy can’t make it work? Looks like the only thing the Flag was about to “fill out” was a coupla paragraphs.

        Follow the money. Who ever approved and then had this boondoggle built should pay the price. I’ll hold my breath to that happens. /s/

        How many billions that could have been spent else where did this cost?

        • AW1Ed says:

          As a matter of fact,

          Another mishap for Navy’s $360 million warship
          By Zachary Cohen, CNN

          (CNN)One of the US Navy’s newest littoral combat ships can’t catch a break.

          In its latest mishap, the USS Montgomery, an Independence-class LCS that’s been in service less than two months, sustained an 18-inch-long crack to its hull while passing through the Panama Canal en route to its homeport in San Diego.
          The Montgomery (LCS-8) was traveling from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean through the canal’s series of “locks” when it hit a cement structure known as the “center lock wall” while under the control of a local Panama Canal pilot, according to a statement to CNN from the Navy.
          “The crack is located 8-10 feet above the waterline and poses no water intrusion or stability risk,” the Navy said, adding that the ship has since exited the Panama Canal to continue its trip to San Diego as scheduled.

          CNN. Yes, I know.

          • 5th/77th FA says:

            smh! 1.5 billion to build, plus outfitting, plus crews, training cost, the eggbeater machine, some fuel, a few groceries, damn if we ain’t fixin’ to be talking about real money here soon.

            Speaking of the Canal that we built and the Chinese control thereof nowadays, there’s some fodder for thought on a post. How dahell you hit a damn lock wall? Ooops, my bad? Wonder what the deductible on the insurance policy is for a comprehension/collision “accident” like that.

        • MSG Eric says:

          Probably the same people who approved The grey Army Combat Uniform that was a piece of shit, fell apart, and was worthless in combat environments.

          But someone made millions and millions off it too!

          • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

            When we first got issued the ACU Uniform we referred to it as “pajamas” not only because of the baggy look, they fell apart in no time out in the field!

  5. 26Limabeans says:

    Giant hood ornament.

  6. timactual says:

    “But Crites said the first four ships had become less relevant for “great power competition””

    Because “great powers” evidently don’t have submarines, mines, or littorals.

    Translated into real-world english he is saying that LCS is useless for anything other than a showboat. And perhaps towing water skiers. LCS is a synonym for ‘yacht’, defined as “a hole in the water into which you dump money”.

  7. Jus Bill says:

    I think the only good to come out of the entire program was keeping the shipbuilding folks employed building ships. But a more aggressive fleet maintenance availability schedule would have been a much better use of the money and manpower IMO.

  8. When they came out with their 40+ crew members, career sailors were clamoring to get aboard for a faster rate climb. Everyone was crossed trained, cleaned their own berthing spaces including the skipper whom also lined up on the chow line asshole to belly button with all the different ratings.

    • AW1Ed says:

      When major systems started breaking and the automated gear required human override, the crew spent more time repairing and overwatching than assigned duties and getting rest.
      Ill conceived from the get-go.

      • NHSparky says:

        Yeah, but I bet they, unlike the McCain and Fitzgerald, knew how their shit worked!

        Ain’t that always the way? People who don’t know their gear break it, those that do, fix it.

  9. Messkit says:

    If I recall, the BB class didn’t need to get in close to shore, to effect combat operations.

    Let’s build a state of the art, full size Battleship, fill her with a dedicated, loving crew (and who wouldn’t be) and all the gear to steer her by, upgrade the rifles, and rain hell on our enemy.

    Big stick for peace.

    • The Other Whitey says:

      I still say that they could rework the old Montana-class design, drop one of the aft main turrets (which still gives her an Iowa-comparable broadside of nine 16-inch guns), give her modern machinery, replace the fourth turret with a metric assload of the new VLS, replace the old 5”/38 secondaries with more modern 5- or 6-inch (155mm) mounts, give it maybe 8 Bushmasters, at least four Phalanx mounts, improved sensors, etc.

      The new VLS can take Tomahawks, Harpoons, SM-2s, SM-3s, Evolved Sea Sparrows, and probably a few toys not yet announced to the general public. I’m sure they could do some kind of wireless link to the Arleigh Burkes that would escort the BBG, maximizing their ability to point all those guns and missiles at something. The updated Montana should be able to rip a new ass in a Kirov. It wouldn’t rules the seas all by itself, but it would be a major component of a fleet Nimitz could only dream of.

      • 5th/77th FA says:

        Don’t toy with me TOW. You just described a Floating Artillery Platform Freedom Boner’s Nocturnal Emission.

        Thanks, I need an afterwards smoke now. And I don’t even smoke anymore.

        • The Other Whitey says:

          I’ve heard it suggested that laser (or similar directed-energy weapons) point-defense systems may render missiles obsolete one of these days, and if that happens, big guns launching big shells may once again be the primary ship-to-ship weapon system.

  10. Prior Service says:

    So our plan to have a navy on the cheap was a failure? Not surprised.

  11. Bob D says:

    Navy still has hope on the Literal POS class of submarine aircraft carrier battleship.

  12. IS1 (SW) says:

    Fucking John McStain.

    This asshole was the brainchild behind this clusterfuck of the highest order.

    He did the dirt dance and left it to the adults to unfuck everything in his wake.

    • Sparks says:

      This is why we shouldn’t let a flight officer have overwatch on anything more than a carrier landable aircraft. it’s like having the Air Force weigh in on what our next artillery piece should be.

    • VFRdilbert says:

      Nonsense. The LCS was a pull program by a CNO. He was trying to get hulls at low cost. McCain had nothing to do with this brain fart.

      We’ve spent billions trying to find cheap solutions to expensive problems.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Ready-made reef material, should make enviro-wienies happy. Fire scuttling charges.

  14. Poetrooper says:

    And this comes at a time when the Navy is demanding the biggest slice of the military pie:

    https://www.defensenews.com/opinion/commentary/2020/01/16/the-us-navys-so-called-budget-salvo-demands-too-much/

    You think the ground-pounders and the zoomies aren’t pointing at this boondoggle and saying,

    “What, give the squids more so they can just piss it in the ocean like this?”

  15. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    So these “Little Crappy Ships” were the brainchild of whom? Sounds like they need to go the way of the Sergeant York AA Gun!

  16. Sapper3307 says:

    Its only money?

    • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

      S’only Gum’mint money and there’s always more of that, just ask any liberal pol!

  17. Douglas Morrow says:

    It appears we have a group of people spending US dollars on projects based on manufacturers needing business then abandoning when cash flow goes down to lower levels for companies. Then get expensive projects back into place. Are these guys earning consulting roles or band lifetime to work for the same companies.