After spending billions of dollars, the US Navy has finally abandoned the Littoral Combat Ship concept, saying it will turn the first four LCSs into training ships and that all future vessels will be equipped for a single combat mission.
Although deliberately worded to minimize its import, the US Navy statement below is a clear acknowledgement that the LCS concept has been an abysmal failure.
The Navy announced it is abandoning the LCS’ most prized objectives (interchangeable mission modules; innovative but complex crewing arrangements) which were supposed to turn inexpensive small ships with small crews into potent combatants in coastal regions.
In fact, the ships are very expensive ($562.8 million for each ship, according to the Congressional Research Service. This is about as much as a DDG 51 destroyer, whose last batch cost about $700m each), their small crews are unable to switch mission modules even when these are available, and their crewing arrangements have proved inoperative.
By turning the four Littoral Combat Ships it has commissioned to date into training ships, the Navy is also admitting they are operationally worthless.
This is an epic boondoggle. For years I’ve read comments by Naval personnel of all ranks, who appear to have more wits than the typical admiral assigned to the Pentagon, warn that the concept would never work.
Last year I happened to watch a documentary about one of these ships undergoing sea trials. It was a joke. Nothing worked. Half the crew was made up of technicians representing all the different system suppliers and they were constantly busy debugging, troubleshooting and tweaking.
To start with, the ship had only two “main” guns, dinky 20mm auto-loading cannons that were aimed and fired remotely from the fire control room below deck. Well, the starboard gun worked ok, but the port side gun couldn’t hit the broad side of a battleship. There was a glitch in the aiming software and the tech who worked for the company spent hours trying to figure it out. When they finally got it on target, the gun would only fire single rounds, the rapid fire mode was ‘off-line’. They gave up trying to fix it.
Then they tried to launch their remote control mine hunting submarine. What a clusterf*ck that turned out to be. At first the sea was too rough. Then there was a mechanical problem with it’s antenna. After they got it into the water there was a problem with it’s steering. Then it took hours to recover the worthless piece of $hit.
The only thing that worked was the helicopter, provided it wasn’t too windy and the sea was calm so the deck didn’t pitch.
I just can’t picture a ship so small, un-armored and undergunned surviving very long in a real shooting war. And the crew, without the benefit of all the civilian techs being able to maintain the craft and complete a mission.
And these ‘mission modules’ (guns, missiles, radar, whatever) require the ship to dock so they can be hoisted on and off. When the ship is finally at sea, if the mission suddenly changes (as often happens in war) the ship is useless. And many of these proposed modules only exist on paper or as prototypes not ready for deployment.
And it goes without saying, you can blame Obama for all this. He cut the the military to the bone. Destroyed the officer corps. Pissed away billions on ships and planes that don’t work. Sidelined ships and planes that did work. And unilaterally reduced our nuclear stockpile.
He’s singlehandedly done more harm to this country in so many ways it defies calculation. And he did it with a big self satisfied grin on his face.