On a New Frigate for the Navy, and the LCS

A pair of complementary pieces on the state of construction of U.S. naval surface combatants:

The Navy Is Looking for a New Frigate to Replace the Troubled Littoral Combat Ship

Why Do We Keep Building LCS?

(Hint– the LCS figures prominently in both.)

The first paragraph from the first article, regarding the prospective new frigate, lays it out:

The U.S. Navy has solicited industry for a new frigate design, reflecting widespread dissatisfaction with the troubled, frigate-sized Littoral Combat Ships. The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) fell victim to a combination of technological overreach and a changing geopolitical environment that made the ships minimally capable, unreliable, and obsolete in a world of variable global threats. In its place, the Navy wants a more traditional guided-missile frigate design capable of tackling larger, more complex roles.*

The article is ostensibly about a new frigate class, but it spends a lot of virtual ink on some significant and well-founded criticism of the LCS.

The second article, by good old CDR Sal, reveals the one, sole, rational reason to keep the LCS, if only on a slow-roll: “The industrial base.” I believe him when he makes the case, but isn’t that a damning statement about the once-great American shipbuilding industry? How far we have fallen.

And don’t get me started on the amphibs, and the lost decade of money and effort poured into the LCS that could and should have gone elsewhere.

America needs her Navy, and it needs to be built here.

 

* One historical comment here– the difference between “technological overreach” and something like, say, “revolutionary design” is of course how well it works. It’s worth noting that Josiah Humphrey’s design for the original frigate class of the Navy was thoroughly revolutionary, not least because it came from a man who had never been to sea and never fired a shot in anger. Still, it’s sad to see that the U.S. Navy– the United States Navy– can’t manage an effective building program for the most useful class of surface combatants.

About vmijpp

VMIJPP hails from the star city of the south, Roanoke, Virginia. A 1989 graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, he is a retired artillery officer in the United States Marine Corps, with time in both the active and reserve sides. He served in Iraq in 2004, and in Afghanistan in 2009-2010. He joined the magnificent OPFOR.com as a guest blogger from the now defunct but never uninteresting Rule 308, where he denounced gun control and other aspects of tyranny, and proclaimed the greatness of the United States. When the sun set on OPFOR.com, he migrated here with Keydet1976 and the others.
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One Response to On a New Frigate for the Navy, and the LCS

  1. burkemblog says:

    The Burke class destroyer is the most numerous combatant in the Navy now–it’s one of the most successful ship designs of recent years. That would suggest we can do this if we want to, but they’re expensive and over 9000 tons, a lot for a destroyer (my dad commanded a destroyer in Viet Nam, 1965-7–2200 tons (WWII Gearing class, FRAMmed in 1962))–there are lots of European frigate designs that we might find useful, but I don’t think they would have the range needed–stretching an existing hull design to accommodate more fuel is a tried and true method of redesigning ships in an evolutionary way–the Sumner to the Gearing class destroyers at the end of WWII is an example. The Navy retired many Perry-class frigates early to fund LCS, and there was a Navy Times article a month or so ago that indicated the Navy was considering pulling some of these frigates out of mothballs to increase fleet numbers until a new ship class is designed.

    Here’s an article about alternative designs: http://breakingdefense.com/2017/05/beyond-lcs-navy-looks-to-foreign-frigates-national-security-cutter/

    We have to remember, we built some crappy ship designs in the late 40s, early 50s–ship design is very complicated, and I think it’s much harder than it looks. The Coast Guard has had its fair share of lousy designs, too, especially lately.

    Like

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