Skip to comments.Navy Getting its LCSs for Xmas?
Posted on 12/15/2010 7:20:26 AM PST by sukhoi-30mki
Navy Getting its LCSs for Xmas?
By John Reed Tuesday, December 14th, 2010
Top U.S. Navy officials today made their case before the Senate Armed Services Committee today for buying both classes of Littoral Combat Ship as the deadline for Congress to grant the service permission to buy the ships fast approaches.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead, repeatedly stressed that the dual by of 20 LCSs from both Lockheed Martin and Austal USA would save the service $2.9 billion over the next five years and allow the purchase of 10 ships from each class versus the 19 single class ships as previously planned.
The officials were speaking during a Dec. 14 hearing that was called by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., as the Senate this week considers an omnibus spending package that includes permission for the Navy to buy both classes of LCS.
That $2.9 billion could be redirected toward other shipbuilding programs while the Navy would get the flexibility of having two types of LCS with complementary skill sets, the service officials repeatedly said.
Navy acquisition chief Sean Stackley was also on hand for the effort, telling lawmakers that, based on Navy calculations that even account for production troubles, each ship would cost between $440 million to $480 million under the plan to buy both classes under a fixed price contract.
However, this deal will only be possible if the service is allowed to act before the end of the year due to cost increases associated with work stoppages at the LCS shipyards, Roughead told reporters after the hearing.
What are the impacts of the work stoppage, what happens to the workforce? said Roughead.
In my case, as I look at the ships that are coming along, how long do I hold a crew in a training period, added the admiral. If the ships are delayed I have to retrain them and they go to another ship or another station
If the service isnt allowed to buy both ships this month, it will have to move ahead with plans to purchase one class of ship as originally planned, according to the CNO.
Thats the point that we find ourselves at right now, said Roughead.
Mabus echoed Rougheads comments when asked if the service would consider buying both classes of ships after the Dec. 30 deadline if the cost of buying both ships hikes.
Its either we get the authority [to buy both] or we downselect to one ship, said the secretary.
Still, McCain was not convinced that the program, which suffered numerous delays and cost hikes over the last decade, will live up to the sea services fiscal projections. He urged lawmakers to continue studying the details of the Navys dual buy well into the new year.
Ive never, in the 20-something years that Ive been a member of this committee, approved a program where I dont know what the cost is, said McCain. He was referring to the fact that Navy officials cannot reveal the pricing information they received from both bidders due to contract regulations.
I understand that the two very generous offers have now been extended to December 30 and I see no reason why those two very generous offers could not be extended to January or February or March so that this committee could at least address the concerns that the [Government Accountability Office, Congressional Budget Office] and the Congressional Research Service have raised. added the Senator.
He was referring to officials from the GAO, CBO and CRS, all of whom said they could not get a truly accurate read on the likely cost of the split buy without seeing the price of the bids. However, the chance of anyone outside of the Navy seeing that data is very unlikely, said Roughhead.
The officials from GAO, CBO and CRS also voiced concern over the prospect of increased costs from training crews, providing maintenance and upgrading two ship types.
While McCain remains unconvinced of the services need to buy both class of LCS, committee chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., backs the plan, saying he believes it will foster competition, keep costs down and help stabilize the shipbuilding industry throughout the 55-ship lifespan of the program.
Hmmm, why don't they call it a 'Combat Littoral' ship, then they can shorten the name to Cli......oops....nevermind.
I'm still not sure the LCS is ready for primetime.
Isn’t the LCS a tad over-expensive for the anti-piracy role?? Besides, it’s just too big for the role compared to the average patrol-boat and OPV found elsewhere.
ROFLMAO...somebody's been blindly believing the rah-rah press releases.
If you talk privately to people (both civ and mil) these ships are almost uniformly regarded as a joke in the USN. Their fuel consumption is so extreme that to "cover territory" they pretty much would need their own personal tanker.
Basically what you need for pirate suppression is a ship with long endurance, with a lot of helicopters; the idea that a ship itself needs to be fast to "chase pirates" is hilarious. The slowest helicopter in the world is more than twice as fast as the LCS, whose worthless high top speed means the ship can barely carry anything, because so much space and weight is taken by the engines, and was a main driver for the massive cost overruns.
On the Harpoon board where I lurk and post, there are some who call the LCS the “Little Crappy Ship”. The price of a cruiser, the size of a frigate, the capabilities of a small corvette. Most of the flak that the LCS gets is due to the extreme cost overruns in the program. This was supposed to be based on an existing commercially available trimaran ferry design. Just what kind of gold plating took place here?
As for capabilities, I would compare this more with the APD instead of the WWII DE. The DE was more of an anti-submarine convoy escort. The LCS is more designed for delivery of small combat teams, either by helicopter or small boat. There are other derivitive designs (concept form) for ASW or anti surface missions.
I know people who worked on one of the LCS designs and they tell me that the navy said "make it a commercial design" and then after the award came in and said "but make it meet these new rules for high speed naval craft" which required everything to be done completely differently, even the welding had to be all redone. There's your gold plating.
The estimated price of the LCS is almost 700 million. That’s just too high for a ship which is the size of a frigate and carrying only minimal systems. You can get a better armed missile corvette or OPV for less than half the price.
About keeping to sea, well how exactly do other countries do it?? They seem to be putting out their corvettes and patrol ships out rather well. A couple of LCSes aren’t going to make much of a difference-cost or capability wise to piracy-infested areas such as the Malaccas or the Horn of Africa. You will need to use ports as well as extensive replenishment assets.
Given the vast areas, of several oceans, that pirates seem to operate in, it seems to me that patrol sized boats would not be adequate.
Piracy, at it’s most basic level is a law enforcement problem. You can deploy a 100 LCS class ships or aircraft carriers, but the pirates will still sneak through if you are not willing to deal with the lawlessness in places like Somalia and parts of the Philippines and Indonesia. You need action at the level of the coast guard to sanitise coastal areas. You will be wasting precious funding on deploying expensive warships to patrol areas looking to motorised fishing boats day after day.
These figures are incidents in 2010 off Somalia. Despite patrols by scores of vessels from major world navies, the pirates still get to run the show.
Anyway, why are we talking about oceans-the LCS is supposed to operate in the littorals. But the fact is its too big and expensive for that role.
A couple of flotilla's of Patrol Hydrofoils (PHM's) along with a couple of Tender-Command Vessels would be more affordable and make more sense. Except that the Navy isn't interested in creating command opportunities for Lt.JG's when they could be creating sea-going commands for full commanders.
At these prices the first LCS that gets zapped by a silkworm missile or hits a cheap mine will trigger the withdrawal of the entire fleet the just as it did at Gallipoli in 1916.
Yes on expense.
But for the price of one LCS you can get
two Absalon class Combat/Flexible Support Ships, each twice the size of an LCS, and they can do anti-piracy very nicely.
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