CNO: New Surface Ships Key to Navy Future

CNO: New Surface Ships Key to Navy Future

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert cited the Littoral Combat Ship, Mobile Landing Platform and Joint High Speed Vessel as critical new ship programs essential to the service’s future surface warfare strategy.

“We’ve got to integrate and embrace these new ships that are coming in and make them work and make them part of the scheme of the equation,” he said Wednesday at the Navy Surface Warfare Association’s Annual Symposium, Crystal City, Va.

The emerging Littoral Combat Ship program will increasingly become an integral part of the fleet, Greenert said.  He explained that the LCS would be key to naval operations and that ships would be in Bahrain, the South China Sea, Singapore and other strategically vital parts of the globe.

Overall, the Navy plans to buy 52 LCS ships. The first LCS, the USS Freedom, recently finished up a 10-month maiden deployment. Other LCS vessels have been built, tested and christened while many others are under construction.

“They are going to start coming at us and we have got to accept them and move along, bring that mission package capability into the fleet,” he said.

The LCS class consists of two variants, the Freedom and Independence — designed and built by two industry teams, respectively led by Lockheed Martin and an Austal USA-led team. Contracts were awarded to Lockheed Martin and Austal USA on December 29, 2010, for the construction of up to 10 ships each.

So far, the first three LCS ships have been commissioned and the fourth, the USS Coronado, is slated for commissioning in April of this year, Naval Sea Systems Command spokesman Matthew Leonard said.

LCS 5 and 6 launched in December of last year, and ships 7 through 16 are in different stages of production, Leonard added. The Navy plans to wind up delivering four LCS ships per year.

The LCS ships are configured with modular or interchangeable mission packages, groups of technologies designed to accomplish a certain set of aims such as countermine, anti-submarine and surface-warfare missions.

Greenert also praised the emerging Joint High Speed Vessel, or JHSV, program, saying it will bring important technology to the fleet.  The Navy plans to acquire as many as 11 JHSVs, ships engineered for fast transportation of troops, vehicles supplies and equipment.

“They are capable of transporting 600 short tons 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots and can operate in austere ports and waterways, providing U.S. forces added mobility and flexibility. JHSVs also have an aviation flight deck and berthing space for up to 104 personnel and airline-style seating for up to 312,” a Navy statement said.

The fourth ship, JHSV 4 or USNS Fall River, was christened on Jan. 11, 2014. Greenert said a JHSV is leaving for a deployment to EUCOM, AFRICOM and SOUTHCOM areas of responsibility.

“We have 11 of them coming and two more of them coming this year. We’ll have four about a year from now, with three of them on deployment,” Greenert said.

Another ship in development emphasized by Greenert was the Mobile Landing Platform, or MLP.

Built by NASSCO, the Navy’s first Mobile Landing Platform recently completed contract trials and is slated for final delivery in March of this year. The MLP is a massive 80,000-ton, 785 foot-long commercial Alaska-class crude oil carrier configured to perform a range of military missions such as amphibious cargo on-load/off-load and logistics support.

“It is big. It has volume and persistence. Imagine what we could have done with this in Operation Damayan,” he added.

The mobile landing platform is able to accommodate MV-22 Osprey helicopters and maybe be able to accept F-35B Joint Strike Fighter landings, Greenert explained.

The Navy plans four new sea-basing ships to include two Mobile Landing Platforms, or MLPs and two modified MLPs, configured into what the Navy calls Afloat Forward Staging Bases, or AFSB.

“This thing is designed to support land operations, airborne operations, and special forces operations,” Greenert said.


Join the Conversation

I haven’t heard anyone dispute the utility of the JHSV. For the LCS however, the story is quite different. As much as Greenert tries to put a happy face on the LCS, nothing can hide the fact that its way overpriced, way under weaponed, and way under protected. The navy’s own IG report cast heavy doubt the ship can fulfill the mission it was intended for, or survive in a hostile environment (let alone the already reduced mission profile).

When other navies can build a real warship, in the same size class, for 1/3 less cost, with far better armament and protection (stealth features, and mission packages): there’s no wonder all the other navies initially interested in this floating abortion walked away.

This begs the question: why are WE the only “smart” ones?

The future of our navy: over priced, incapable of fighting, but highly beneficial to the recipients of the ill-disguised corporate welfare program called LCS.

Its unfair to judge a system that hasn’t completed any combat trials and doesn’t have any of its platforms integrated. The key to LCS is going to be maybe 5–10 years out in the form of lasers and rail guns( if the platform can hold them.

I understand the position that people believe it will be a sitting duck, however, nobody knows what will actually happen and what combinations of ships and packages will be escorting and on the LCS respectively.

Any platform looks as though it will not survive a contested environment when it is as yet an incomplete package. Source those platforms with the right packages and escorting vessels and things may change considerably.

Think carrier strike groups… without the area denial aspects (including the aircraft on a carrier’s deck and submarines under the surface plus any other aspects) a carrier is a useless piece of floating metal. the same goes for any ship of instrument of war.

Don’t be so quick to judge just because peopleTHINK they have an idea of the effectiveness of a platform. In reality, nobody will know the results this platform will produce until it has seen actual combat along with other platforms designed to fit into the puzzle. Its just another piece of the chess game, sometimes you lose a pawn (LCS) to save the queen (carrier).… sometimes you have to account for that before the game even gets going. Having a ship able to swap its weapons package quickly and having a platform that can handle may different packages (new ones will be created as needed and may be more heavily armed) should be a great asset to the fleet. The key is to use the asset in the correct manner to negate losses as much as possible.


/with all due respect — the Navy’s own inspector general’s office reported the concerns regarding the ability of the LCS to fulfill its mission (i.e. the lack thereof), and its total lack of protection (which isn’t helped much even if its carrying the “surface warfare” package — which would be a joke if we were talking about someone else’s navy). One must assume that the Navy’s own investigative arm would have access to the long-range plans, the intended strategy, and technologies, weapons, etc., when making such judgements (otherwise — whats the point?). And the Navy’s answers to the IG’s office didn’t even address the problems outlined in the report (note that the GAO was also suitably unimpressed — the LCS has yet to gain even a mediocre review from anyone outside the LCS’s own shrinking list of cheerleaders).

The LCS is only built to the level-1 standard, meaning the sea-frame is only *slightly* better than commercial grade. Contrast this to a common fleet oiler or the OHP-class frigates, which are built to the level-2 standard. The 57mm gun failed miserably in Canadian testing, and the LCS has zero ability to reach out and touch someone at a distance (nary even a box ‘o harpoons). If you look at the original idea of what LCS was supposed to be and do — neither variant meets the requirement. The Cyclone-class PC’s given their size are far more heavier armed — and using those as a starting point might’ve been a better alternative.

As far as improving LCS — the weak sea-frame (the very foundation) isn’t really even worth the expense of investing in (i.e. adding weapons to). The so-called strategy of building ships that if hit will take just long enough to sink so that its crew has a chance to safely abandon ship isn’t terribly inspiring. If they at least built the hulls to the level-2 standard and did away with weapons and military grade electronics altogether (saying they’d add or enhance them later) we’d still be better off.

This nation spent years fighting in the littorals and there were many hard lessons learned as a result. Those many harsh lessons were paid for in the worse way with the lives of our sailors, yet the LCS design (such as it is) seemingly ignores all of them. Our sailors (and their families) frankly deserve better.

Another concern, is that even the supporters of LCS have significantly downgraded the mission profile of the LCS: as much as they claim otherwise to save face — this is an admission that they also know they failed to deliver what they said they would to the Navy (let alone the US taxpayers). And the fantasy that LCS will be supporting SoF missions sounds great — until you realize the PC/Cyclone class was already deemed far to big to support that mission (which they were also initially designed for), and the LCS is far larger than those.

The story regarding what LCS was supposed to be and the reality of what LCS has become has caused that story to continuously change for the worse, while the corresponding costs kept rising. ALL other navies that were interested have walked away — that is a BAD sign.

I have no problem with the concept of the mission package, and the correct strategy is in fact to build ships that can be easily upgraded as technologies are developed. But other nations are able to do this on full military grade hulls, with far more basic armament and mission packages in the same size class for a lot less. If the LCS in its maximum configuration ran into even a Skjold-class patrol boat in the littorals or open sea it wouldn’t stand a snowballs chance in Hades.

In short — the US taxpayers are paying vastly more money for what seems to be more of a liability than an asset.

Saving money, which is at the heart of the LCS concept, with a bad design will cost more money in the long run. Quit kidding ourselves that this is might work just because its “cheap”. At the same time we are still building more of them while they are being tested. I think they called that acquisition malpractise on F-35 (of course they are still doing it there too!). And to top it off we have to have 2 different designs of a bad ship class? This whole concept is a dissaster that we will be paying for for years.

As China continues to build its capabilities we are making stupid choices that will cripple us in a few years. 2025 is going to be very break indeed.

What always seems to be forgotten in the price of US manufactured weapons
is that considerable cost comes from the higher-paid, more-often-than-not union labor.
Be it the welders and machinists, or the engineering departments, US salaries are considerably higher than what South Koreans or other nations’ laborers are getting for building their latest ships.
Sadly though, in both engineering and manufacturing, that higher-paid labor is NOT a guarantee of higher quality.

We see this far too often, from corrosion issues in the LCS (even after the US has been building metal ships for a century and a half…you’d think maritime engineers would KNOW this stuff), to recently-announced concerns of all the issues the Ford is teething thru.
First-of-their-class vessels are expectec to have issues, especially when far too many unproven systems are being incorporatec at the same time.
But again, decades even of shipbuilding should’ve taught the (US) maritime industry to be more effective than what we’re seeing.

On top of manufacturing costs, we see again all-too-often corporations not hesitating a sizeable mark-up to rake in a decent quarterly return for the shareholders.

“Its unfair to judge a system that hasn’t completed any combat trials and doesn’t have any of its platforms integrated. The key to LCS is going to be maybe 5–10 years out in the form of lasers and rail guns( if the platform can hold them. ”

Guest, your first statement is at the heart of LCS’ critcism. It’s already an insanely expensive ship which doesn’t even include the pricetag of its weapon systems. On top of the price, it was sold on a modularity concept and many of those modules are just now being invented (maybe). The surface warfare package was supposed to rely on an Army missile system that ended up getting cancelled. They’re still working on a suitable replacement. You make the conjecture that it’ll be worth our while IF it can support even more yet-to-be-invented weapons. Does it seem right to spend $40 billion on a fleet of ships when they have to sit around and wait for worthwhile weapons that may add another half billion to each ship?

LCS, let’s see: (1) gas guzzler, which will require MORE tankers to support while at sea; (2) has to return to port to swap out “modules;” (3) too small to be able to carry the munitions to be able to stay in the fight; (4) requires a REAL destroyer to protect it if a REAL warship attacks it; (5) not really that “littoral” in that it still requires about the same draft as frigate or destroyer (plus Navy SOP won’t let it go in any water where it can beach itself); (6) can’t stand up in a one-on-one against ANY third world country warship. Humm,…sometimes you just have to admit you made a mistake and move on.

Another greedy corrupt Navy guy who wants there pet project to win when its a loser. LCS in Pentagon reports is not survivable in modern sea warfare and is too expensive for other conflicts. Why waste money on this crap. We got the first DDG-1000 put together time for more production and scrapping LCS for more DDGs would speed that up a lot.

Is the LCS really that bad? I’ve been hearing the Navy say that the biggest threat it faces these days are mines and submarines, and well it looks to me like they’ve built a ship with anti-mine and anti-submarine capability. The LCS’s high speed would, I’d imagine, put it at less danger from a submarine’s torpedoes and allow the ship to get closer to the submarine in the first place. And being less expensive means you could send it into mine– and sub-infested waters rather than risking a DDG. Sure the LCS can’t take on a Sovremenny-class destroyer, but any conflict where we’re facing any substantial opposition from enemy surface combatants is going to have one or more CVBG’s in the region to deal with that.

They didn’t build LCS for just anti-mine and anti-sub. It is supposed to cover surface warfare as well as amphibious warfare support, possibly embarking ground troops. With the technical problems they’re having trying to make this ship do all of those things, these proposed mission module taking weeks to swap out, and the unknown costs since the modules are still being designed, the question to ask is whether all of this is worth $700 million per ship? If the Navy wanted a bunch of anti-mine and anti-sub frigates they could have had them at a fraction of the cost with fewer unknowns and assumptions in the technology and deployability. We may end up never changing out modules and declaring a particular ship to keep to a specialty. If that happens, the costs of this program are even more unforgivable.

Maybe not railguns on the LCS in 10 years, but a quarter century would be a better guesstimation.
We have to figure in the developments of today’s electrical generation and storage capacities vs what we had 25–30 years ago.
Add in that more and more development and refinement of 3D printing and manufacturing processes, a learning curve that surely will incorporate more and more complex feeder materials (powdered metals) and CNC-laser “welder” heads allowing precise heat where it’s needed, just long enough to bond new alloys and engineered lattices of ceramics and metals, perhaps we may even see the first generation of polymer-metals, we could well be on the verge of a breakthrough era in materials engineering that will allow far greater energy storage densities and power generation, in addition to greater structural materials at less weight.
FRAM saw condsiderable capability repackaged into old USN hulls with newer generation technologies.
If the LCS hulls aren’t cracked apart by then, a FRAM for the 21st century will see DEWs/lasers and railguns of various calibers enter service.
That’s an evolutionary gimme.

First off, it would be helpful if DODBuzz had linked to ADM Greenert’s address for the Surface Navy which encompasses all of the above points in the article.


Secondly, it would be helpful if people read the Vision document before turning on their tired old rant either in favor of or against LCS.

Finally, understand that until the 2015 Budget is actually drafted, the Program of Record for LCS is 52 Ships, no matter what the latest word is. For the sake of our sailors, it needs to work, plain and simple. Whether you believe in it or not, it is a reality now, with at least 10 ships in the Fleet as a done deal. You can complain about it until the cows come home, but that’s not going to change anything. What will change the equation is to complete the work on the Mission Modules, in order to raise the “combat credibility” as ADM Greenert states.

‘Nuff said.


NOTE: Comments are limited to 2500 characters and spaces.

By commenting on this topic you agree to the terms and conditions of our User Agreement

AdChoices | Like us on , follow us on and join us on Google+
© 2015 Military Advantage
A Monster Company.