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Thread: Littoral Combat Ships

  1. #1156
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post

    Is the USN still planning to pick one LSC/Frigate design or the other or keep buying both?
    The latest I've seen concerning this is an on-line copy of a Congressional Research Service report dated April 5, 2016. It states that Congress is to decide whether to "approve, reject, or modify the Secretary of Defense's December 2015 direction to the Navy to reduce the program from 52 ships to 40, and to neck down to a single design variant starting with the ships to be procured in FY2019."

    So, apparently it's yet to be a final decision.

  2. #1157
    Official Thread Jacker Senior Contributor gunnut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jlvfr View Post
    I don't think he knows the definition of "terrific"...
    Ever noticed that "horrific" comes from the word "horror," means really really bad.

    But the word "terrific," while coming from the word "terror," means the exact opposite....
    "Only Nixon can go to China." -- Old Vulcan proverb.

  3. #1158
    Resident Curmudgeon Military Professional Gun Grape's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cruiser View Post
    "The Fort Worth 'has just had a terrific deployment to the Pacific' Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said to a House Defense Appropriations subcommittee on March 1, without noting it's been sitting immobile in port.
    Look at what she did before she broke down. It has been a good deployment. The Navy might want to rethink (again) the crew swap program though

    From Wiki

    Fort Worth reached the 7th Fleet area of responsibility on 4 December 2014. The ship is expected to remain in the area until March 2016.[27] It will be the longest deployment of a U.S. warship in 42 years, since the aircraft carrier USS Midway was under way for 327 days in 1973. The long deployment is to stress the Navy’s logistics capabilities and identify potential problems. Once the deployment is completed, Freedom will take the ship's place, returning to the area again.[28]

    On 31 December 2014, Fort Worth was dispatched from Singapore to the Java Sea to take part in the search for Indonesia AirAsia Flight 8501 that crashed on 28 December.[29][30] On 3 January 2015 she arrived in the area to commence search efforts alongside the destroyer USS Sampson at the request of the Indonesian government. The maneuverability and shallow draft of the design allowed her to conduct expeditious visual and radar searches in the congested, shallow water environment.[31] Both ships concluded search efforts on 15 January 2015 after performing 650 combined search hours. Fort Worth provided unique capabilities over the larger Sampson, and employed her two 11-metre (36 ft) RHIBs in 107 hours of operations. A team from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One was embarked on the ship, operating three Tow Fish side scan sonar systems to search for wreckage during 78 hours over 12 sq nmi (16 sq mi; 41 km2), the AN/PQS-2A passive sonar to listen for black box pings during 17 hours over 24 sq nmi (32 sq mi; 82 km2), and a remotely operated vehicle to investigate objects.[32]

    On 13 May 2015 the Chinese foreign ministry sent a complaint to the United States after Fort Worth made Freedom of navigation passage near Spratly Islands claimed by China.[33] During her deployment to the South China Sea, Fort Worth encountered several warships of the People's Liberation Army Navy, putting the new rules of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea into practice in a "professional" manner.[34]

    On 22 January 2016, according to a memo from the service, it was reported that Fort Worth was sidelined in port at Singapore indefinitely because of damage to gears that propel the vessel, which resulted from a failure to use enough lubricating oil.[35] As a result, on 28 March 2016, CDR Michael Atwell, the commander of LCS crew 101 (the LCS is manned by a rotating crew), was relieved of duty and was temporarily replaced by CDR Lex Walker, deputy commodore of Destroyer Squadron 7. The Navy cited the reason for CDR Atwell's removal was "due to a due to loss of confidence in Atwell's ability to command," stemming from initial findings into the incident that sidelined Fort Worth. [36] It is estimated that the repairs to Fort Worth would cost between $20 and $30 million according to defense officials, and the ship may need to be heavy-lifted back from Singapore to San Diego so it can be repaired during its scheduled overhaul.[37]
    Its called Tourist Season. So why can't we shoot them?

  4. #1159
    Senior Contributor surfgun's Avatar
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    By Tony Capaccio

    (Bloomberg) — Lockheed Martin Corp. is under orders from the U.S. Navy to correct quality control failures in building its version of the Littoral Combat Ship, an issue that has delayed deliveries and resulted in three citations from the service’s shipbuilding inspectors.

    The Navy’s supervisor of shipbuilding issued “Corrective Action Requests” in May, June and July of 2015, with one of the three withdrawn after the contractor’s plan to resolve the issue was accepted, Dale Eng, a spokesman for the service, said in an e-mail.

    The quality questions, which hadn’t been disclosed previously, add to concerns about the $29 billion program that Defense Secretary Ash Carter has reduced to 40 vessels from 52. The citations also could hurt Lockheed’s chances in a future competition with Austal Ltd., which builds another version of the ship. No corrective action requests have been issued against Austal, according to Eng.

    The Pentagon plans to choose one of the two companies by 2019 to build as many as nine ships in a new, heavier version intended to be more armed and survivable, like a frigate. The Littoral Combat Ship, intended for missions such as mine-clearing in shallow coastal waters, has been criticized as too vulnerable to attack in combat.

    ‘Systemic’ Deficiencies

    The Defense Contract Management Agency found Lockheed has “systemic quality deficiencies” at the Marinette Marine Yard in Wisconsin, where it builds the ships, agency spokesman Mark Woodbury said in an e-mail.

    The citations to Lockheed were for inadequate oversight of vessel propulsion systems, an “inability to adequately control critical system cleanliness” on those systems for the USS Milwaukee and USS Detroit and a failure by the company and its subcontractor, the marine unit of Fincantieri SpA, “to ensure adequate subcontractor oversight,” according to Eng.

    The citation for inadequate oversight of the propulsion system was withdrawn on April 7 after the Navy and the contract management agency concluded Lockheed’s corrective action plan was adequate, but the other two remain in effect, Eng said. Lockheed “has been diligently working their plan of action and milestones schedule toward closure” of the remaining citations by mid-September, he said.

    Lockheed spokesman John Torrisi said in an e-mail that the company takes each “Corrective Action Request very seriously, as each one identifies manufacturing and training improvements, which our industry team implements, in close coordination with the Navy.”

    He said all three Lockheed-built Littoral Combat ships delivered to the Navy so far “have met or exceeded Navy specifications for quality and performance prior to acceptance” and that the Bethesda, Maryland-based contractor and its industry partners have invested more than $100 million to improve the Wisconsin shipyard, hire more staff and train its workforce.

    Lockheed’s quality shortfalls were the main cause of a three-month delay in delivering one of the ships, the USS Milwaukee, which was damaged during preparations for a trial at sea when the starboard propulsion shaft was “inadvertently operated without proper lubrication,” according to Eng. The Milwaukee was sidelined less than two months after its eventual October delivery by an apparently unrelated gear issue. Similarly, the Lockheed-made USS Fort Worth suffered extensive damage at dockside in Singapore in January when its crew failed to follow proper lubrication procedures.

    GAO Report

    Broader questions about the Littoral Combat Ship also persist. In a draft report stamped “For Official Use Only,” the U.S. Government Accountability Office recommended that Congress “consider not funding” either of the two vessels requested by the Pentagon for next year “because of unresolved concerns with lethality and survivability,” the Navy’s lack of funding “to make needed improvements and the current schedule performance of the shipyards.” The Navy is reviewing the report.

    But congressional support for the ship, and the shipbuilding jobs it provides, remains strong. In H.R. 4909, its version of the defense authorization bill for fiscal 2017, the House Armed Services Committee added a third ship. The House Appropriations defense subcommittee, which often follows the policy panel’s lead, acts on the defense bill Wednesday. The Senate Armed Services panel also will craft its version of the authorization measure this week.

    The GAO also recommended that Carter not approve the Navy’s current procurement strategy until “it completes a significant portion” of detailed design for the future frigate-like ships before soliciting competitive bids.

    Captain Thurraya Kent, a Navy spokeswoman, said in a statement that she wouldn’t comment on the GAO’s draft report because she didn’t “know what changes may or may not be made” before it is made final and because the Navy’s views will be incorporated in a Pentagon response.

    Schedule Delays

    Aside from Lockheed’s quality issues, there have been “significant schedule delays” at its Wisconsin shipyard and at Henderson, Australia-based Austal’s facility in Alabama, according to the GAO draft. “Our analysis of Navy contracting and budget documents identified that actual or planned deliveries of almost all LCS under contract” through the 26th ship “were delayed by as much as 19 months” from their original delivery dates.

    With delays, “there is not a schedule imperative to awarding additional LCS in fiscal 2017 as the shipyards will both have work remaining from prior contract awards — not including any other work from other Navy or commercial contracts,” GAO said.

    Three more of Lockheed’s Freedom-class vessels are already projected to be six or seven months each behind their original schedules, according to the GAO. Four Austal vessels are estimated to be as much as 15 months late, the GAO said.
    http://gcaptain.com/u-s-navy-asks-lo...-lcs-problems/

  5. #1160
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    Naysayers Are Learning the Wrong Lessons About the Littoral Combat Ship
    MAY 22, 2016 BY JERRY HENDRIX

    The LCS is bringing needed numbers — and following the paths of very successful ship classes. Navy / Commentary
    Recently, the distinguished national security practitioner and analyst Lawrence Korb, whom I hold in the highest professional regard, detailed four lessons from the saga of the Littoral Combat Ship for Defense One readers to consider. Leveraging history to inform policy is a preferred method of analysis and I was reminded of the opposing views regarding the Vietnam War. One side believed that the lesson was not to interfere in foreign civil wars, while the other concluded that the nation should never commit troops unless it was dedicated to victory. One war, two opposing lessons. Such is the case, it appears, with the Littoral Combat Ship, and it is with deep respect that I must challenge Dr. Korb’s assertions.

    Dr. Korb proposed that the first lesson of the Littoral Combat Ship was that the Navy focused too much on the number of ships rather than on their capabilities. This was true, but it was also necessary. The Navy came out of the 1980s with a fleet of over 500 ships (592 in 1989) and made a pivot, as part of the Second Offset Strategy, to focus less on quantity and more on high-end capabilities such as the Aegis Mk-7 weapons system. We had a large fleet and could afford to ride the numbers down a bit — and if conflict ever did rear its ugly head, Congress would turn the spigot back on and the shipyards could begin pushing out ships. Except conflict did come (9/11), and the spigot did get turned back on (the Navy budget went up 25 percent between 2001 and 2012, from $122 billion to $161 billion) but the size of the fleet went down (316 ships down to 285). The budget increase actually went to pay for additional operations and maintenance costs while shipbuilding funds remained largely flat.

    As the fleet shrunk (largely due to the decommissioning of aging and maintenance-intensive ships added during the Carter-Reagan era), and wartime operations tempo increased, ships and their crews began staying at sea longer. Deployments grew from six months to nine or even 12 to cover American maritime commitments. Maintenance issues grew commensurately. It was readily apparent that the Navy needed to enlarge its fleet in order to cover the 19 maritime regions in which the United States had defined strategic interests. In most cases, it takes five ships in the fleet to keep one forward deployed: one forward, one coming home, one heading out, one working up, and one in maintenance. Given how our fleet is organized and the various combatant commands’ stated requirements, careful calculations show that it would take a fleet of 350 to meet the nation’s needs. When the LCS was under consideration in the early 2000s, the fleet had 315 ships, but was trending lower. Navy leaders knew we needed to purchase a low-cost ship that could provide basic mission services — most importantly, naval presence — in large numbers to get the fleet’s numbers up under the flat shipbuilding budgets they were facing. Hence the LCS design. Most serious analysts had come to realize that sometimes capacity is a capability.

    Dr. Korb’s second proposed lesson from the LCS experience was that the ship’s design came with flaws, notably the lengthy time required to install and remove mission modules. This is not the first time that a new design has faced challenges early in its life. The Oliver Hazard Perry frigates, originally conceived as subhunting convoy escorts, first deployed with an underwater sensor that was so bad that it was nicknamed the “Helen Keller” sonar. The Ticonderoga-class cruiser arrived so top-heavy that there was concern during sea trials that she would tip over. The first 27 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, built without a helicopter hangar, have a diminished capacity to operate in submarine-infested waters.

    But the Perrys’ operations were modified from anti-submarine to surface warfare support. The Ticonderogas were stabilized with ballast and later Burkes eventually got a helo hangar. All of these ships today are considered part of the “Golden Age” of ship design. Design evolution and hullform improvement is the rule, not the exception, and we are less than 10 ships into the fielding of the LCS.

    Dr. Korb’s third lesson was that the ships were rushed into production before the designs were fully mature. As already stated, this is more the rule of ship operations and not the exception. As well, the fleet is currently down to 272 ships with nearly 40 percent of the fleet at sea at any given moment, deploying for seven to nine months at a time, then coming home to be rushed into the yards in vain attempts to get them back up to full capability before they have to be rushed back out on deployment again. Even with this extreme level of effort, critical maritime regions are being gapped, and rising powers are seeking to test the international norms and rule of law that the United States and established and built up over the past 70 years. The international system is eroding before our eyes.

    Lastly, Dr. Korb raises the specter of LCS’s cost growth. I can only presume that he is referring to the growth from its original estimated cost of $250 million in 2001 ($337 million in 2016 dollars) to $550 million today, because the current price actually reflects a nearly 17-percent decrease from the cost of LCS 1 and 2 to the the ships that are now emerging from the shipyards in Wisconsin and Alabama today. More decreases are projected as production efficiencies are found and incorporated. Let’s start by saying that the $250 million LCS was a goal, as $800 million was the goal for the Arleigh Burke destroyers (delivered at $1.1 billion originally, now $2.2 billion). Some inflation accompanies nearly every class of ship over time, and the Littoral Combat Ship’s costs are slowly coming into line with other ships of similar design. However, it should be understood that if the LCS is to be improved to a true frigate’s capability, analogous to the Italian FREMM multipurpose frigate, some additional costs will be incurred. Ultimately, a ship in the $800-million range is affordable within the current budget mix and would still add numbers to the fleet.

    I have high regard for Lawrence Korb’s contributions to our nation’s security, but in this case I must respectfully disagree with his analysis. The Second Offset emphasized capabilities over capacity and I fear that today’s present Third Offset may as well. It must be understood that sometimes numbers are what it is all about. The 2007 Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower made an important observation that seemed self-evident: that preserving the peace is at least as important as winning the nation’s wars. This seems easy to do, until it isn’t, and it isn’t now. The nation’s Navy has simply gotten too small to preserve the peace. Free navigation and free trade are being challenged with new views on expanded maritime “sovereignty” over portions of the high seas. Critical resources and fishing stocks are being exploited. Wherever the United States Navy is absent, the stable global maritime system is under assault. We need more ships now, and they cannot all be $15-billion aircraft carriers or even $2-billion destroyers. Often times all that is needed is a small gray hull with a white number, a good-sized gun and missile battery and a red, white, and blue flag that promises that more power is right behind it to maintain peace and stability. Given the fiscally constrained budgetary environment, we need an affordable fleet of 350 ships, with 75 of them being frigates. An expanded force of enhanced, robust Littoral Combat Ships will help our nation preserve the peace. Link
    ______________

    Never thought I'd be agreeing with this guy...
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  6. #1161
    Defense ProfessionalSenior Contributor tbm3fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TopHatter View Post
    [B][SIZE=3] Often times all that is needed is a small gray hull with a white number, a good-sized gun and missile battery and a red, white, and blue flag that promises that more power is right behind it to maintain peace and stability. Given the fiscally constrained budgetary environment, we need an affordable fleet of 350 ships, with 75 of them being frigates. An expanded force of enhanced, robust Littoral Combat Ships will help our nation preserve the peace. Link
    ______________

    Never thought I'd be agreeing with this guy...
    I agree. When the cat is away the mice will play and that has always been true. Seventy five frigates, of some kind, showing the flag while reminding everyone, that in the back pocket, the big cats are ready if the call goes out.

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    The LCS is not a frigate. It's a $500 hull which sits somewhere waiting for modules to carry out missions. A baseline Perry was far more capable of multitasking than a baseline LCS. A single LCS can't do anything.

    Yes, I know the idea is not to leave any LCS alone, but that's the main flaw of the whole argument. Any ship that patrols, or is "showing the flag", is essentially alone. It has to be able to show off and handle itself alone, otherwise it's useless. And it has to be able to do it without having to shout "be right back, getting the tools for this job" and running away at 40knots.

    A frigate is a light warship, built for escort and patrol. The dozens of MEKO-class ships are frigates, the german Brandenburg-class, the french La Fayette-class, the korean Incheon-class, these are frigates; even the danish Absalon-class has been called one. None of these has to run home to switch from one kind of mission for another.

  8. #1163
    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jlvfr View Post
    The LCS is not a frigate. It's a $500 hull which sits somewhere waiting for modules to carry out missions. A baseline Perry was far more capable of multitasking than a baseline LCS. A single LCS can't do anything.

    Yes, I know the idea is not to leave any LCS alone, but that's the main flaw of the whole argument. Any ship that patrols, or is "showing the flag", is essentially alone. It has to be able to show off and handle itself alone, otherwise it's useless. And it has to be able to do it without having to shout "be right back, getting the tools for this job" and running away at 40knots.

    A frigate is a light warship, built for escort and patrol. The dozens of MEKO-class ships are frigates, the german Brandenburg-class, the french La Fayette-class, the korean Incheon-class, these are frigates; even the danish Absalon-class has been called one. None of these has to run home to switch from one kind of mission for another.
    Why would you assume an LCS deploys without mission modules? If an LCS encounters a situation it isn't setup to deal with, it has the option to go refit and tackle the job. A frigate can either deal with a situation or it can't, and has to leave the job undone.

    I agree that LCS aren't frigates, but people seem to keep holding them to standards as if they were. They aren't made to escort shipping across blue water, that's a frigate's job, and as you pointed out, plenty of our allies already have those available. The LCS was built to allow the navy access to areas it couldn't previously go with anything but patrol boats. An OHP has double the draft of an LCS, and just physically can't operate effectively in the same environment, namely the littorals. The LCS will handily kill the other things that operate in the littorals and is fast enough to haul ass away from the big boys out in blue water. If a type 52D destroyer shows up on scene, an OHP won't "handle itself" it will get handled since it isn't fast enough to hold the range open.

    I think it makes a lot more sense to buy a ship that lets us operate somewhere we have very little capability than doubling down on a surface warfare platform when we already have 60+ Burkes that are far more capable in that regime than any frigate.
    Last edited by SteveDaPirate; 24 May 16, at 15:40.

  9. #1164
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    Quote Originally Posted by jlvfr View Post
    even the danish Absalon-class has been called one. None of these has to run home to switch from one kind of mission for another.
    For the Absalon that's debatable given its inherent modularity. Although in that case it's more a matter of scale, i.e. the ship's capability outfit can be scaled to the mission (but won't remove a particular capability set either way and will always retain at least a minimal amount). This - while still there - is less pronounced with the Iver Huitfeld class btw, i.e. the frigate design derived from the Absalon.

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    An OHP has double the draft of an LCS, and just physically can't operate effectively in the same environment, namely the littorals.
    That's not really a point though. Any of the European frigates have a draft within 10-20% of an LCS.

    One might name the LCS reasonably "corvettes". They're kind of built for a similar littoral theater and with a similar limited autonomous warfare capability. They're just a bit overgrown for that, but then again nowadays frigates the size of cruisers are being built. The term would actually nicely fit in with their layout as high-speed mostly-mission-specific littoral larger units.
    Last edited by kato; 24 May 16, at 16:23.

  10. #1165
    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kato View Post
    That's not really a point though. Any of the European frigates have a draft within 10-20% of an LCS.

    One might name the LCS reasonably "corvettes". They're kind of built for a similar littoral theater and with a similar limited autonomous warfare capability. They're just a bit overgrown for that, but then again nowadays frigates the size of cruisers are being built. The term would actually nicely fit in with their layout as high-speed mostly-mission-specific littoral larger units.
    Many of the European frigates are understandably designed with shallow waters in mind due to geography. The OHP's on the other hand were designed to protect amphibious landing forces, supply and replenishment groups, and merchant convoys, thus their relatively deep draft and blue water capability focus.

    The Littoral Combat Ship, as the name implies is designed for operating in the littorals, thus filling a capability gap in the current USN roster. It wasn't intended to be a straight up OHP replacement, and I'm not sure why people keep trying to shoehorn it into a role it wasn't designed to fill. It would be disingenuous of me to knock the OHP for it's inability to hunt mines in shallow waters because that wasn't where it was designed to operate, nor what it was designed to do.

    At some point soon I am actually expecting the USN to split the two hull variants, so that one continues to focus on the littoral region, while the other is adapted to be an actual blue water OHP replacement.
    Last edited by SteveDaPirate; 24 May 16, at 18:48.

  11. #1166
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    Steve,

    Can they split the designs but share multiple components to keep life cycle costs down?
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  12. #1167
    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Albany Rifles View Post
    Steve,

    Can they split the designs but share multiple components to keep life cycle costs down?
    That would be ideal, but I don't think it will happen. The kinds of things you would think they would be sharing already like radar/EWAR suites are totally different between the hulls. If anything I expect the LCS and SSC to diverge more as time goes on. LCS will continue to prioritize space for deploying boats, RO-RO for vehicles, and aviation assets. The SSC will cut into or give up these capabilities in favor of armor, over the horizon missiles, 3D radar, and additional electronic and torpedo countermeasures. The plan as it stands is for the SSC to be labeled as a Frigate and focus on surface and and anti-submarine warfare, while the LCS keeps the mine hunting, secret squirrel, and littoral mission set.

    The fact that navy hasn't downselected to a single hull yet surely means there is some intense political pressure to keep both Austal and Bollinger shipyards busy. I don't expect that political pressure to go away, but they could designate one hull for LCS and the other for SSC and let the designs diverge accordingly.

    Both Lockheed and Austal have submitted SSC designs, but the selection isn't due to occur until 2018.

  13. #1168
    Senior Contributor Stitch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    That would be ideal, but I don't think it will happen. The kinds of things you would think they would be sharing already like radar/EWAR suites are totally different between the hulls. If anything I expect the LCS and SSC to diverge more as time goes on. LCS will continue to prioritize space for deploying boats, RO-RO for vehicles, and aviation assets. The SSC will cut into or give up these capabilities in favor of armor, over the horizon missiles, 3D radar, and additional electronic and torpedo countermeasures. The plan as it stands is for the SSC to be labeled as a Frigate and focus on surface and and anti-submarine warfare, while the LCS keeps the mine hunting, secret squirrel, and littoral mission set.

    The fact that navy hasn't downselected to a single hull yet surely means there is some intense political pressure to keep both Austal and Bollinger shipyards busy. I don't expect that political pressure to go away, but they could designate one hull for LCS and the other for SSC and let the designs diverge accordingly.

    Both Lockheed and Austal have submitted SSC designs, but the selection isn't due to occur until 2018.
    The Independence hullform (LCS-2) seems better adapted to the littorals, and the Freedom class hullform (LCS-1) seems like it would be more at home in deeper (i.e.: blue) waters.
    "There is never enough time to do or say all the things that we would wish. The thing is to try to do as much as you can in the time that you have. Remember Scrooge, time is short, and suddenly, you're not there any more." -Ghost of Christmas Present, Scrooge

  14. #1169
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    So, the last news I saw reported that the LCS MCM package had failed to meet spec and been sent back to the drawing board for re-development, the ASW package was more advanced but still not ready for deployment and the anti-surface warfare module was more or less being put together on the run - is it still hellfires for the initial package?

    Engineering issues with the two vessel designs aside I still get the impression the Navy has doesn't know what it wants to do with these hulls once it has them. God help the sailors who have to fight these ships in a literal combat environment against anyone more advanced than Somali pirates - unless of course a big brother sits of over the horizon on baby sitting duty. Which leads to the question why not just go with conventional frigates and mine sweepers.

    I just don't see any other Navy on the planet following suit and taking up this design/concept even if they are ric enough to afford it.

  15. #1170
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    Thanks guys. As usual learning a lot.

    My thought was more towards engine plant, shafts and screws, etc. I did expect the mission packages to differ. But, as a novice, I never thought hullform.

    So how much commonality was there between the Sprucans and Ticos?
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