From the Age of Sail through to the Second World War, naval combat was done primarily in close quarters and with cannons. Naturally the technology improved quite a bit in those intervening centuries, but the idea was more or less the same: the ship with the most guns and most armor was usually the one that emerged victorious. Over the years warships became larger and heavier, a trend that culminated in the 1940s with the massive Bismarck, Iowa, and Yamato class battleships.
But by the close of WWII, the nature of naval combat had begun to change. Airplanes and submarines, vastly improved over their WWI counterparts, presented threats from above and below. A few years later, the advent of practical long-range guided missiles meant that adversaries no longer had to be within visual range to launch their attack. Going into the Cold War it became clear that to remain relevant, warships of the future would need to be smaller, faster, and smarter.
It was this line of thinking that lead the US Navy to embark on the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program in the early 2000s. These ships would be more nimble than older warships, able to quickly dash through shallow coastal waters where adversaries couldn’t follow. Their primary armament would consist of guided missiles, with fast firing small-caliber guns being relegated to defensive duty. But most importantly, the core goal of the LCS program was to produce a modular warship.
Rather than being built for a single task, the LCS would be able to perform multiple roles thanks to so-called “mission modules” which could be quickly swapped out as needed. Instead of having to return to home port for a lengthy refit, an LCS could be reconfigured for various tasks at a commercial port closer to the combat area in a matter of hours.
A fleet of ships that could be switched between combat roles based on demand promised to make for a more dynamic Navy. If the changing geopolitical climate meant they needed more electronic reconnaissance vessels and fewer minesweepers, the Navy wouldn’t have to wait the better part of a decade to reshuffle their assets; the changeover could happen in a matter of weeks.
Unfortunately, the Littoral Combat Ships have been plagued with technical problems. Citing the expensive refits that would be required to keep them operational, the Navy is now looking at retiring the first four ships in the fleet, the newest of which is just six years old.
Get Two For the Price of Two
One reason the refit would be so expensive is that the Navy never actually decided on which LCS they want to keep. When they opened bidding for the program, Lockheed Martin submitted a traditional steel monohull design and Australian shipbuilder Austal offered up an aluminum trimaran based on a high-speed ferry the company had already built. The two craft offered their own unique advantages, making it difficult to declare a clear winner. Since both ships ended up being cheaper than the Navy had originally anticipated, in 2010 the decision was made to buy ten ships from each of the two companies rather than selecting one design over the other.
While the upfront costs might have been low enough for the decision to make sense a decade ago, the Navy is now dealing with the unpleasant realities of supporting both ships. Sailors need to be trained differently depending on which ship they’ll be assigned to, and two separate supply lines of replacement parts need to be maintained. Even the different materials used in their construction have become a problem. Repairs need to be approached differently for aluminum versus steel, as do the methods used for preventing corrosion.
The situation is even worse when talking about the first-generation ships. Over the years an untold number of issues have been resolved, and naturally those improvements were rolled into the later vessels. But those initial four ships, two of each LCS class, would need to have all those improvements retrofitted before they could be on par with their peers. As such, the Navy had previously decided to use the first four ships for training purposes only.
But even for training, they’ve become of limited use. The operational versions of the ships have enough differences that the earlier models aren’t fully representative of the vessels the crew would actually serve on. If they can’t be deployed and aren’t useful for training, it’s hard to justify why more money should be allocated for their continued operation.
Some Assembly Required
One might wonder why these ships couldn’t be utilized for the research and development of future mission modules. After all, at one time the Navy touted that the LCS program would eventually see modules for near-future weapon technologies such as lasers and rail guns; equipment which would surely require extended sea trials before it was approved for deployment. Indeed, using these ships as floating module testbeds would make perfect sense. Unfortunately, nobody is actually making any more modules.
In what’s truly the greatest failure of the LCS program, the idea of a modular warship has at this point been all but completely abandoned. In practice, the Navy found that it took far longer to switch out the modules than was originally envisioned. A well-trained crew could do it in as little as 92 hours under controlled conditions, but on average it took a week or more to perform the switch.
Arguably that’s still an impressive technical accomplishment, but operationally it left something to be desired. In the time it would take an LCS to switch over to another role, a different ship could have been called in to take is place.
In 2016, it was decided that each deployed ship would be assigned specific mission modules. What’s more, it was hinted that future versions of the LCS would likely lose the ability to swap modules altogether. In doing so, the Navy effectively negated the entire point of the program. If each hull in the LCS fleet has a permanent mission module, then the ships are are really no different than the ones they set out to replace originally.
Finding a Replacement
In reality, the early retirement of the Freedom, Fort Worth, Independence, and Coronado is the first step towards the Navy ultimately winding down the LCS program. With the modular concept of the ships not living up to expectations, there’s little reason to keep the fleet operating. Both LCS variants were built with the assumption that their modest offensive and defensive capabilities would be augmented with future mission modules. Now that those aren’t coming, the ships have limited combat usefulness.
Recognizing the hole that the under-performing LCS program puts in their capabilities, the Navy is currently holding a competition for the design and construction of a new class of multi-mission guided-missile frigates referred to as FFG(X). While they aren’t looking for a fully modular design, the Navy does request that proposals include an explanation of how easily the ship could be upgraded in the future. Specifically, they’re looking for designs that could be outfitted with new systems in the field, avoiding the need for putting the ships in dry dock or cutting into the hull.
So while the Littoral Combat Ship never reached its full potential, it would seem the Navy hasn’t completely given up on the idea. It may be that a fully-modular warship isn’t practical with current technology, but the LCS program at least demonstrated that replacing weapons and equipment without bringing the ship back to its home port was possible. The program didn’t produce the Navy’s dream ship, but it might have been a necessary step towards something better.
91 thoughts on “US Navy Looking To Retire Futuristic Prototype Ships”
this is why we have not been back to the moon or further than LEO
“pork barreling” and the military industrial complex spending obscene amounts of money on what exactly?
endless war to what end?
I’m bracing myself for the usual suspects calling me a “lefty, hippy socialist”
go for it, I’m from Adelaide, we have always been a “hotbed” of lefty, hippy democratic socialism
Being from Australia, why would it be any of your business what we spend our budget on? As an American, I demand Australia spend more on space exploration. Step up. Why hasn’t your country been to the moon?
Because of the American tourists?
We’ve spent all our money on F35 jet fighters. When will they be ready BTW?
When pigs fly… oh wait that’s a bit too literal… or is it littoral.
They are pretty much there. Many are being upgraded to combat ready. It isn’t the usual song and dance anymore. Major headway has been made, costs have been reduced and readiness is at an all-time high. Many are already in service. After 3i-3f block upgrade, they became partially capable of munitions. That’s enough right now just to dominate the sky. Once they all receive the next block software upgrade, there will be nothing in existence like it. China can build all the fighters based on it that they want, but they can’t even fight off covid-19. Russia’s fighter is all talk, they must have unloaded enough vodka money on just getting it to a stage where it looks pretty. F35’s are already doing more in half working state than the best anyone has now. Am I biased? Maybe, i’d have to be since i’m on that team.
Australia has been sucked in to the F35 fairytail, our “northern neighbours” have SU-27’s
the talk of using F 35’s to control “dronified” F 18’s does not look good
EVERY single plane flying can fly rings around an F 35!!!
this is not like the F-111 or F-15 teething problems
the only “enemy” are the 1% oligarchs that are making a shit ton of money, whether it works or not
The US spend litterally more money than it would need to save the world on war, so our right wing gobshites (I’m Swiss BTW) want some expensive toys too.
And to be honest, working health care system, no more crippling student loans, better public education, proper environment protection, could be easly achived with some percent less funds for war.
Similarly, there are people that rail against the “obscene amounts” of money “wasted” on space exploration and fundamental science like CERN, while people on the planet are dying of poverty, hunger and curable disease still.
Also, space travel pretty much started as weapons manufacture and greatly benefited from the Cold War.
That being said, of course you can debate the size of funds. Going to the moon has uncertain returns, there may be overspending in the military, and what role should it have on the world stage.
To equate that to “this is why we have not been back to the moon” and “endless war to what end?” is not genuine, you should consider the other side has a valid point instead of instantly going for the ad hominem.
But there is good news for you from the free market (brought to you by a free country, protected by an advanced military(no patriotism, I’m not US)): Musk and the likes will get us to Mars even if governments don’t. And much cheaper :)
Afghanistan, Syria, Libya don’t suffer from overpopulation …
Not before, and definitely not after Yankees “fixed” their problems.
Okay… but you go first
Why not start with places with over-consumption? whether it is over-consumption of food (leading to an overweight society like the USA or many other places) or over-consumption of unnecessary and frivolous non recyclable products just for the sake of narcissism.
Good grief. All the military does today is waste money. It’s not the cold war anymore. But I guess the waste is probably the whole point. Between this and that new fighter jet—we gotta defund them a bit. We’re already so far superior than literally the rest of the world’s militaries combined. This needs to stop. It’s a cancer on society. I know there’s a realistic and practical need for the military, but not this much of it. They do so little which is productive and so much that is wasteful or even outright atrocious.
the F35 cluster frack is a prime example
the bloke that designed the F16 makes a great argument
the shitbags we kinda elect are out of control
no accountability, no remorse, no morals
and yet we send ill prepared service men and women to kill “brown people” for no other reason than profit
[to kill “brown people” for no other reason than profit]
Wut? Lay of the weed, man.
Agree that the F35 is a bad deal.
Which is more wasteful, the military or NASA ? The boat may have issues but at the very least it could be used if needed. NASA on the other hand is FAR, FAR, more wasteful of our tax dollars than any other entity. Ya, like we should really spend 14.3 Million to send a rover to mars to check out some dirt.
what is “the boat” going to do?
the Mars rover is actually useful, it expands our awareness, adds to our knowledge, inspires people
all a warship does is cost money and lives
Your crazy. When you need surveillance or protection what are you going to want ? An “expansion of your awareness”, some inspiration to fend off the enemy. Oh wait… I know maybe some mars dirt bought back that you can sprinkle on them.
Knowing what is on the surface of mars does you absolutely nothing but waste my tax dollars.
If a person needs a rover on mars to get inspired they need more help than mankind can offer.
I think you mean “You’re”
Here is an example:
You’re out of your mind if you think a reasonable reduction in our over bloated military spending would make us any less protected as a nation.
It is not my crazy. Maybe it is yours?
We are in training to fight the extraterrestials. You all will be glad that we have this crap when they do finally arrive. See you their.
[the Mars rover is actually useful, it expands our awareness, adds to our knowledge, inspires people]
Not so much for me. Nor a homeless person.
[all a warship does is cost money and lives]
This is nonsensical and not having any warships will also entail costs.
Again, debate fund sizes, categorical statements are useless.
Mars may hold the key to the survival of our species. Have fun escaping an asteroid impact on your dumb looking boat.
See this is a great example of why people like you dont think things through.
There is absolutely NO way we will ever live on mars. Period!!! Mankind is no way shape of form ready to be there even if we were handed the tech to get there today. Your going to live in a bubble there and you know full well someone is going to smuggle a gun, make a gun, or some other weapon to be the dominant person over there. One wrong move and the dome cracks and everyone is dead.
Bah, we used to think that moving faster than 30 mph would suffocate you. If you’re the same Mike shitting up the whole thread with your anti-space attitude, close your browser and take a hike.
Get a load of this guy
There are some very basic problems with Mars: the cold, the lack of water, leading to lack of food, lack of oxygen, inadequate atmospheric pressure (you can’t just go outside), lack of brown native workforce….
There are some pretty basic reasons why we really should abandon the idea of transporting goods through the air by heavier than air ships. At the altitudes it can even start to be possible, it is way too cold, and you would suffocate in just a few minutes. And then, do you know how much ENERGY it takes to hold things up in the air? And this is before you even consider what it takes to MOVE them. I mean, once you’re up in the air, there’s nothing to PUSH against!!
Because Mars will not be hit by an asteroid (hint, it has a much thinner atmosphere)? Or because it is full of oxygen, water, vegetation and animals?
Anthropogenic climate change/warming, wars and toxic waste all over the place (water, just look at PFAs -permanent chemicals- and soil) are rendering (and will continue to render) this planet pretty useless in much less time than an asteroid, say 50-100 years. That’s without accounting for mass migrations (and mass means 200 million to say the least).
Nobody’s going to escape to Mars, that’s the irony here. People thinking that we can destroy this perfectly working and livable planet and then “escape” to Mars, for what? Survival on an hostile place?
And Musk wasting ridiculous amounts of money, just as GAFAM accumulate (did you know that Apple or Google weight more than 140 countries combined? Look it up) on ridiculous mirages is a big part of the problem. Sure the financial sector is not without blame, there’s no single entity to blame, it is a bunch of them.
what the actual fuck was the point of that word salad??
try just a tad less caffeine?
No, you can’t expect to be able to escape to other planets. The economics are just ridiculous. But that’s not how expansion works. It’s not how the “new world” was colonized (well, okay, stolen), and it’s not how space will be colonized (sorry, little green men, but you, too, are totally screwed when we get there). You don’t ship billions of people from the doomed place to the bright new place. You send thousands, and you pick places (i.e., not Mars) that don’t require extreme environmental modifications. That is, you don’t try to save the doomed people; you try to save the SPECIES. No, Mars is not the answer. Unless your question is, how do we learn how to live on other planets in parallel with learning how to get to better, more habitable planets?
And hint, hint: Littoral Combat Ships and other military fantasies don’t help much in either of these areas.
lack of brown native workforce….
I think that still has not been confirmed.
Yes. Yes, you should.
NASA 2020 budget $22.6B
DOD 2020 budget $738B
And at least the Rovers f**king work.
Uh, you better re-think that. We sent more things there that failed than worked.
Just like the V-22 which cost MORE than the entire Nasa 2020 budget in 1988 dollars. Killed many brave soldiers and ultimately will be decommissioned. There were over 400 made and less than 200 are in service. DOD = waste. At least we learn from NASA. Don’t learn anything from war. “War! What is good for? Absolutely Nothing!”
@Ignorance is bliss
[DOD = waste]
Right, because you can never be on the receiving end of an attack / invasion?
Seems you chose the right nick…
@yxorp: You have nukes, relax.
Even if you were only otherwise armed with rifles, nukes would keep you safe from any invader. MAD.
Except invaders in your head, of course.
And those in your Government, stealing money from your pocket while screaming “Thief! Thief! at the random bogeyman du jour.
Yeah, that N. Korea will invade US at any moment. Suuure it will.
The worse case that can happen with NASA’s project is that it doesn’t work. So it is no big deal in the bigger scheme. DOD on the other hand might mean let down your allies, left behind or lose a few wars.
There are also a lot of hidden cost e.g. training, man power to use the hardware.
Korea – a draw
Vietnam – lost
Grenada – won, ish
Panama – won, but?
Afghanistan – lost
Iraq – lost
Syria – our invasion has so far failed and Trump is complicit in Obama’s crime. I’m calling this one a loss. The only thing worse would be victory, whatever that would look like.
Old Guy those were never memt to be won!
It’s even less than this since a lot of that NASA budget goes into military R&D projects. So their actual space exploration budget will be smaller.
So an organisation that is designed to take human life is more efficient than one that is designed to learn about the universe, and expand the knowledge of the human species.
Both are by their nature wasteful, but ultimately if the human species is to survive one will be the past and one will be the future.
With the near infinite resources and energy that is available today in space, it could end the need for any military or wars, what we lack is knowledge of how to access and utilise the resources of an entire universe. We have been in space for less than 60 years, we have been killing each other much much longer than that.
What you are suggesting is killing a new born baby that is learning to crawl because it is wasteful and has not done anything useful (yet). And I know from experience that some people will never change their mind, that they will think one thing there entire life and never question anything.
NASA is by no means wasteful. The payoof is in all the new technological innovations which must be developed so we can analyse martian dirt effectively, not in the dirt itself. A large proportion of money spent on NASA is used for developing technologies which go on to help in many sectors, whereas much of the money spent on the military leaks away into things which don’t provide any long term payoff. We, by which I mean pretty much every nation on earth, do need a military, but overspending on it is foolish.
“money spent on the military leaks away into things which don’t provide any long term payoff”
Yup, ARPANET did not provide any long-term payoff. /s
Xerox PUP small address space but before TCP to be used in corporate/school networks
the military by 10,000 fold, NASA adds to our understanding of reality while these boats and planes either sit around doing nothing or blowing up mostly innocent people in third world countries.
lets also not forget the military budget is over half the counties budget while NASA is a fraction of one present
One word…greed. The rest is connect-the-dots. No economic system can remain viable against unrelenting, all-encompassing greed.
Well, hold on a minute. Just because they’re assigning them permanent modules *for now* doesn’t mean that them being a modular system couldn’t be useful in the future. If we find ourselves at war and start losing some of these ships, it would still be a lot easier to reassign ships to other combat roles than to wait for new ships to be built.
What if you were 3D printing them on site with a printer ship :)
Seems to me the biggest problem is which navy ordered them.. The US has the hulls to have every specialist boat only a few days away from where it is needed. Boats like that for the European nations make more sense – nobody in Europe has the hulls dotted around the world in little fleets the way the US does.. So airlift/ship in the right modules to make your helicopter carrier a pocket aegis, missile launcher etc so it can be changed in the field makes much more sense then. Even if it takes a month to convert its a heck of alot quicker than building new ships or retrofitting ones not designed with multiple roles in mind..
Far as I can recall the French have a lovely carrier but basically no escorts.. the UK has just about enough boats to escort a carrier, but really only just, and at the moment no planes to go on the new carriers…
Also worth thinking about the use ships of this design might have in other roles. Just because there were designed military doesn’t mean they can’t make superb research vessel, ground station for orbital craft etc in part because they should be easily refitted for the role.
Modular systems sound great on paper, but often don’t work out except in certain niche areas. There seems to a law of systems, unit cost is inversely proportional to modularity. What you might gain in improved configuration ability, you lose everywhere else.
Where modules can work is where there is a simple, clearly defined interface between modules and the host. Containers for shipping are a tremendous success, there is very little interaction apart from mechanical fit. OTOH, where you have multiple connections such as power, hydraulic, compressed air, exhaust and considerations of heat dissipation, EMC etc it becomes very complicated very quickly.
I’ve worked a number of projects which start off with modularity as an initial goal, but eventually succumb to the cost/complexity issue. How to test every module works with every other type of module? How to create a standard but scalable power/signal interconnect?
For the most part, nature does not design modular systems. Adults grow from babies, not by adding modules. That should indicate integrated systems are probably the most efficient design.
Object Oriented Programming is the only case i have seen that has a modularization standard and is successful. Don’t forget these were prototypes the kinks are always nightmares there, most prototypes are never fully successful.
So Lego is a failure??? The standard 48 foot trailer container, the ultimate in modularization, it’s a failure?
OOP is a bigger mess than the military!
It has created the glut of bloated, resource hungry, buggy, endless patch cycle software we have today.
It was never created to make programming better. It was created with the notion that greedy corporations could commoditize software programming and offshore it to cheap, low skill, coding farms by breaking big projects into a bunch of small, independently coded components that would magically plug together like Lego pieces and just work through the power of OOP.
All we really got was huge, bloated code. Poor performance. High host resource requirements. Constant bugs. Patches that cause new bugs, and lots of security holes.
So no. OOP is not an example of successful modularization.
USB and PCI-E are. Arduino and Raspberry Pi hats are. Power tool bits and batteries are, to an extent.
… and cue the OOP fanboys but before you jump in remember what the arguably most used, most successful piece of software on the planet is written in. That being the Linux kernel, which is written in C.
So are most RTOS and embedded systems.
USB? Seriously? The CLOSED standard that was specifically designed by big industry to keep small businesses OUT? It took over a DECADE for USB to be effectively opened up to the world, and even now, people have to cheat on their vendor and product IDs to make their USB devices work.
Oh, right. And tool batteries that are literally electrically identical, that are made to NOT be interchangeable. Are you from the real world?
What part of “to an extent” was beyond your comprehension?
There are some very successfully modular battery systems within product lines.
Onion-ised take: Navy retires Littoral Combat Ships due to no longer looking cool now that recent superyachts look like boats again.
“construction of a new class of multi-mission guided-missile frigates referred to as FFG(X).”
Aah that’s my favourite! Final Fantasy Game 10!
I’m curious why swapping was so tedious…was the modular interface under-designed? Were they running new wiring or something every time they swapped? It’s true integrated systems will always be more efficient, but there’s nothing inherently broken about modularity… It seems probable the committee who designed the interface couldn’t agree on things like how much power, mechanical strength, etc. should be part of the interface, resulting in each module having to be plumbed in individually. A couple hundred bolts, and maybe a dozen quick-disconnect fittings should be all that’s required to swap modules…
Might be partly technical, and partly crew issues. The USN is scarily overtaxed right now. You’ve got 20 year olds with limited sleep manning warships and whoops, we hit a cargo ship and killed our own sailors. Now hand them a manual and a ginormous weapon system to change out and see what happens.
It’s never that easy with complex electro-mehcanical systems. Chances are with the LCS – which has been plagued with bugs and design flaws from day that there is more involved than what the Navy says.
The thing is the services never like admitting they bought a lemon so they soft peddle why they are phasing it out. It’s like the B1-B that was supposed to replace the B-52, didn’t happen because the B1-B had a many issues that could not be fixed. So they retired the B1-B.
The LCS was a screw up from day one. It had to get a DoD Waiver because it’s classified not as a warship but a civilian ship because of it’s aluminum hull. It’s too light to fight IOW. Very under weaponed and it’s hull offers little in the way of protection for the crew(which is expected to handle multiple roles on the ship) which hasn’t worked out too well.
It should have never went beyond prototype stage.
And the B-52’s ARE STILL FLYING……Military intelligence..an oxymoron.
Modular might look cool, but like mecha show they are not practical. Where things are joint together, they might break. :P
I read an article about these ships not too long ago, and it seemed as if one of the biggest problems was the requirement for a small but multi-disciplined crew. The crew liked it because they weren’t stuck doing just one task over and over, but that made any one person overly valuable leading to a huge risk in operations should someone fall ill/injure themselves/die. Then of course, the greater the number of tasks that someone needs to be familiar with, the better the chance that they’ll make errors.
It would probably be a good platform for Augmented Reality use, where quick visual indications tell someone what to do rather than resorting to a manual. And AR doesn’t have to solely be backed up by software, there can be remote staff just like there are with drones.
There’s plenty of solutions, but I guess why care when you can just push today’s toys off the table knowing you’ll have nearly a trillion dollars to spend next year on new ones.
Maybe because those AR solutions are basically BS. Unless you staff that call center with very experienced swabbies who know the equipment it won’t work. And you know full well no contractor is going to hire top talent for that. It will be some Hindu or Chinese coolies working out of some boiler room.
Think sub warfare as far as crew training. AR solutions have issues at the time being. Prototypes are more likely to be failures. The point is to take the lessons from your mistakes, although large organizations as any can be slow.
In other words they designed the module interface completely wrong. The modules should have their own control electronics and power regulation, hydraulic pumps if needed.
The only connections to the host ship should be power feed of a single high voltage and amperage, a hydraulic feed and return, and a data/control bus connection. Each of those should be doubled up on opposite sides of the module for redundancy and damage resistance. For modules needing hydraulics, the modules should have a fluid tank and their own pumps. The connections to the ship fluid supply would be mainly to fill and drain the module’s tank but could also be switched to being the sole source should the module’s tank take damage.
For mounting the modules there’s already a lock that’s been proven on millions of CONEX shipping containers. Put a bunch of them on the bottom of the module and on the ship use the same type of locks used by dock cranes to lift containers.
The final bit should be a lift system built into the ship to at least partially push the module up so it’s easier for a dock crane to remove it.
If the hydraulic and electric connections are built big and tough and able to shift a bit for minor misalignment, it should be possible to have a module that can be disconnected and ready to pull in minutes. Sucking the fluid from the module’s hydraulic tank would take most of the removal time.
No wimpy little pins for the data bus, make some 10mm pogo pins that press hard onto thick contact pads. Perhaps a giant 24 contact connector running USB-C over it?
I think you are missing a key point in engineering anything – lots of tradeoffs no matter how you design it.
Taking your give each module its own everything if needed approach takes more volume and mass in the module, should cost more to make and will require more power from the ship as you are adding yet more transformer inefficiencies. Of course there are gains to that idea as well, but its never as simple as this is the only way to do it and in this case I would say you are taking a very sub optimal route for such ‘small’ modules – The ship already has to have and can provide much of what you need so make use of it. Which leaves more room in each module to do whatever its purpose is.
Its never going to be as quick as you are suggesting – no matter how its designed when the modules are so much bigger than shipping containers (which is what any dockside crane you might be using will be designed around). So 96 hours seems really damn impressive, even a week seems pretty good to me. If you are wanting to be able to shift modules in that one specific dock built for the purpose then it becomes reasonable to expect it to be done in a handful of hours, otherwise there is bound to be many extra steps to take.
yup, proper points made – either take modularity seriously or don’t bother.
I think the design looks great for a RC boat. I’ve been trying to build one for some time now. It is a trimaran hull, very nice looking.
Granted I’m not a naval strategist, when I heard of the “littorals” emphasis of defense contractors, I thought that it was to build a capability to operate in those areas because there was a need like “swift” boats in Vietnam.
I don’t get the idea of running into shallow waters though as a countermeasure if that’s really the idea. It’s not like it’s the era of sail and once you’re out of cannon range you’re safe. It seems as though not only are you not safe, you’ve limited your options as far as evading your pursuers.
Swift Boats were originally tasked with littoral patrol, when Kerry volunteered for them. Then, oops! Their mission was expanded to include the riverine environment.
littoral = shore adjacent
riverine = take a guess
I don’t claim to be a strategy expert either, but an interesting thing one learns from playing serious wargame simulations like C:MANO is that the preponderance of ECM and missile capable SAMs combined with the need to get close to positively identify a threat makes a gunnery duel highly likely in a real naval engagement. Back in the 1980s it was really just us with that Aegis stuff, now everyone’s got it.
Anyway, that isn’t why these things go shallow. They go shallow because that’s where terrorists and pirates tend to hang out–the source of nearly all maritime combat engagements since the Cold War–and the big bluewater boats can’t operate in that environment. Long range weapons are useless if you don’t know where to send them. As I noted in my more general rant on the LCS project, it’s a great idea in theory but very poorly executed. A cheap and cheerful $100m corvette/minesweeper hybrid would have been very successful, instead we got a $500m white elephant that can’t be fielded in the quantity necessary to get the job done.
Niche naval ships for shallow/deep water isn’t new. The UK (and maybe others) had their “monitors” around WWI. Think of a single large battleship/dreadnaught turret on a cruiser or destroyer sized ship.
The Project Ara of warships?
Modularity makes sense if you don’t have extra units to spare. The Italian Navy has a modular carrier/AAS… because we only got the one. So having mission modules there makes sense — you want to do long range patrols in the Mediterranean one week, and be a hospital ship the next week, and carry tanks the next. (Technically we have two carriers, but one at this point is obsolete)
You have to be joking. You cannot convert a warship from combat patrols to a medical ship in a week. Try six months. Then there is bringing on the medical support staff because the regular crew is too busy running the ship and are not trained for it. And where are you going to house the medical staff? Oh that’s right there is no extra berths on the LCS for them.
People watch way too much sci-fi and think large, real world tech is easy. It’s not.
Spiritplumber makes no claim of LCS being suitable for modularity nor that modularity makes sense for the US Navy. The example of where it makes sense is from the Italian Navy.
In a world where 16 inch guns can shell targets there’s very little “littoral” about these boondoggles. My opinion on them has been negative from day one.
Sometimes a good ol’ skool Tin Can is the best. Especially if you can afford a LOT of them.
US can sell them to Greece. They would buy from US anything that’s defected, retired or any other military waste for a high price.
Good riddance. LCS was an interesting idea but like most government projects it’s been a pork addled fail parade from the beginning. The fundamental problem is that it isn’t actually very good at anything. The modules underperform both in and out of combat, both upfront and operating costs far exceed the strategic value of this class of vessel, and the Navy has openly admitted that they’ll go down in flames if the other side actually shoots back.
At least it has bullets for its guns, unlike the damned Zumwalt.
Liken it to a failed prototype and thats all.
Still wonder what went wrong with the f22!?
The research was there, why if it didn’t work was there not a trip back to the drawing board. That couldn’t have happened here as the research wasn’t here.
Simple. Drones. They have mad manned fighter planes obsolete. Modern warfare. Push a button and boom.
Why not ude StanFlex https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/StanFlex
Why are they decommissioning these ships while leaving the USS Constitution as a fully commissioned vessel? They keep the USS Constitution in tip-top fighting condition with a fully trained crew, as if we were going to actually use it.
In 1970’s Vietnam I was on a Garcia class destroyer USS DE 1050 and it was a MORE OF A bad ass than these new ships
Yup. The US military sure knows how to waste money……Too much fear mongering.
In an age of hypersonic missiles, how is a manned 40-knot ship still a thing?
Oh you just deploy a minor royal in a helicopter to play chicken with them.
Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)