is there any hope that this utterly wasteful program might be killed? doubtful but at least it is heartening to read that someone in the Congress sees it
U.S. Senators McCain, Reed Target $29 Billion Littoral Ship for More Changes
September 19, 2016 by Tony Capaccio
(Bloomberg) — The Senate’s two top defense policy lawmakers want the U.S. Navy to make additional major changes to the service’s troubled $29 billion Littoral Combat Ship program or risk losing their support for future purchases.
“Until these actions are taken, we will have significant concerns about supporting the procurement of additional LCSs,” Senators Republican John McCain and Jack Reed, the chairman and ranking Democrat of the Senate Armed Services Committee, wrote Navy officials on Sept. 15 in a letter obtained by Bloomberg News.
The letter didn’t specify whether the senators were referring to support for the basic littoral ship, successor “frigates,” or both. Current plans call for 12 LCS vessels or frigates to be procured from 2018 through 2025. The Senate committee and its House counterpart have already approved the two requested for fiscal 2017; congressional appropriators added a third. Eight vessels in a total 40-vessel program have been delivered.
The ship, built in two versions by Lockheed Martin Corp. and Austal Ltd. and designed to operate in shallow coastal waters, has been criticized for its reliability flaws, limited combat power, and uncertain ability to survive in combat. The vessels this month suffered their fifth major reliability or maintenance failure in less than a year.
The Navy announced Sept. 8 it was altering training and crew rotation, de-emphasizing the swapping of missions and equipment “modules” that was supposed to be a hallmark of the vessels. The changes came after the latest of several Navy reviews since 2012 questioning basic program assumptions and propulsion system failures.
“We applaud your initiative in attempting to correct major deficiencies” and “urge you to take” additional “long overdue actions,” the senators wrote. In buying the vessels, the Navy “has deviated from many aspects of a normal acquisition program, including deploying the ship before any significant testing had been conducted,” the senators wrote to Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson.
Commander Chris Servello, Richardson’s spokesman, said via e-mail that the service “appreciates the ongoing support of the Congress — we are united in our focus on improving the performance for the LCS class. Each issue raised in the letter has been identified by Navy reviews, and is either covered in the recent LCS review or in other actions.”
During the latest review, “wholesale changes to the crewing, deployment, mission module, training and testing concepts were identified to provide more ownership and stability, while also allowing for more forward presence. Those changes are in the process of being implemented,” Servello said.
“We will continue to keep Congress and the American people informed on how we will work to keep this important program on track,” Servello said.
The biggest additional change McCain and Reed suggested was reducing the days the vessels deploy overseas to a level that won’t burn out the crew or increase the chances of major reliability failures. That would require deploying them for less than 50 percent of their projected 25-year service life; destroyers are deployed at less than 25 percent of their life, for example.
Although the latest review adjusted crew levels and roles to simplify operations “it did not change the employment concept of having one LCS continuously deployed for every two ships,” they wrote.
“The significant challenges” with reliability and system failures “that surfaced during the first three LCS deployments” of the USS Freedom, USS Fort Worth and USS Coronado “provide strong evidence that this tempo is likely unsustainable,” McCain and Reed wrote.
The duo also urged the Navy to start planning now to conduct a deep review of manning requirements and start developing a successor “small surface combatant’’ vessel to address the capability and survivability shortfalls of the LCS, beyond the better-armored “frigates” the service intends to purchase.
The bipartisan letter comes amid increased scrutiny of the program but also of Navy ship numbers overall. The service is close to completing a new ‘‘Force Structure Assessment” that’s reviewing whether the Navy’s 308-ship inventory goal needs to increase.
Ship numbers have also factored in the defense spending position of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Trump’s campaign said he “will build a Navy approaching 350 surface ships and submarines.” One of Trump’s top national security advisers is armed services panel member Senator Jeff Sessions, a Republican from Alabama who’s been a strong supporter of the LCS program. The Austal version is built in Mobile, Alabama.
Two days before the Senators’ letter warning of additional maintenance failures, the Austal-made USS Montgomery became the fifth LCS in less than a year to experience major glitches.
The vessel was hit on Sept. 13 with two unrelated casualties within a 24-hour period in the hydraulic cooling system and a gas turbine engine after leaving Mobile bound for her home port of San Diego, Lieutenant Rebecca Haggard, a Naval Surface Forces spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. The ship will sail to Mayport, Florida, for repairs before continuing to San Diego, she said
McCain: Navy Should Replace Littoral Combat Ship
By MarEx 2016-09-19
Late last week, the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) reiterated its demand for a thorough review of the Navy's troubled Littoral Combat Ship program and called for the service to prepare an "LCS replacement" design as soon as possible.
In a letter undersigned by Senators John McCain and Jack Reed, the committee's chairman and ranking member, the SASC called for the Navy to "start planning now to procure and begin deliveries of a new small surface combatant as soon as possible in the 2020s . . . we believe it is [important] to proceed aggressively with defining the requirements, setting the acquisition strategy and fielding the LCS replacement."
The committee said that the replacement should have over-the-horizon surface attack missiles, air defense and missile defense capability, long-duration escort/patrol endurance and robust survivability – characteristics more in line with an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer than with the current LCS design.
In addition, the committee called for the Navy to reduce planned LCS operational availability from 50 to 25 percent, set up a test site on land for propulsion systems and review manning arrangements.
The Navy has already conducted an internal review and altered manning and ship rotation plans, including a move restricting the first two ships of each class to "testing" without deployment on an indefinite basis. In addition, one out of every four vessels will be kept near home port for use as "training ships." The vessels’ flexible mission packages have also been deemphasized, and new four-ship divisions will each focus on a single warfare area – "surface warfare, mine warfare or anti-submarine warfare."
However, the Navy has not scaled back its intended acquisition numbers, which would see the construction of a total of 52 littoral combat ships.
The two LCS classes have been troubled for some time, and over the span of the last year both types have suffered from serious propulsion casualties. The equipment failures are still under investigation to determine whether crew error or design flaws are to blame.
Separately, sources within the Navy told DefenseNews on Monday that the new carrier Gerald R. Ford, the first of its class, is facing delays in starting sea trials due to serious problems with voltage regulators on its four Main Turbine Generators. One regulator reportedly malfunctioned badly enough to damage the number two turbine's rotors, and the turbine will have to undergo a major overhaul.
Naval Sea Systems Command emphasized that the problems were in no way related with the vessel's nuclear plant.
The turbine problems will probably push back delivery until 2017.
The carrier has had reliability problems with a number of systems, notably its launch and recovery gear, which have yet to attain the uptime performance that the Navy says is required for high-tempo warfare operations. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus attributed the developmental problems due to the use of a large number of new technologies within one platform, and has ordered an independent review into the carrier's construction.
not in love with John McCain by any means but I am glad that there is one voice of reason where this insane nonsense is concerned