The first Littoral Combat Ship, USS Freedom, on its way to Singapore last year.

The chorus of criticism facing the first ships of the Navy’s new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) class calls for a little historical context to be brought to this debate. Almost all new ship classes experienced considerable “birthing pains” in their early days. This is not new. Indeed, the first six frigates acquired by the American Navy in… Keep reading →

The first of the Navy’s new catamaran transports, the Joint High Speed Vessel Spearhead, has completed its acceptance trials, builder Austal and the Naval Sea Systems Command announced last week.

Derived from an Australian-built commercial ferry that the US leased to experiment with, the twin-hulled JHSV is a smaller, cheaper, unarmed sibling of the triple-hulled General Dynamics Littoral Combat Ship design, also built in the Austal yards in Mobile, Ala.; Austal is an Australian company. (There is also a very different LCS variant built by Lockheed Martin and Marinette Marine in Wisconsin). The unusual catamaran-like design of both ships is intended to reduce drag by giving them the narrowest possible cross-section in the water, yet without reducing stability. Keep reading →

The Navy declared LCS-1 Freedomfit for service” yesterday and on track for next year’s deployment to Singapore, while lead contractor Lockheed Martin says LCS-1’s shortfalls are largely fixed in the redesigned LCS-3, Fort Worth — but watchdog group POGO, whose reports have fueled Congressional skepticism, still has its doubts. Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: While the Littoral Combat Ship is not suited for the front lines of a war with China, it would provide vital protection to US supply lines in such conflict, said Under Secretary of the Navy Robert Work, and against Iran, LCS would be in the battle from “day one,” with eight LCSs ultimately operating out of Bahrain. Indeed, the two potential theaters of war are so different that the Navy may consider focusing the “much more maneuverable” Lockheed Martin version of the LCS on fighting fast attack boats in the narrow waters of the Persian Gulf, while the very different General Dynamics design, with its larger flight deck and fuel tanks, operates primarily in the vast reaches of the Pacific. Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: Even as two Navy admirals praised the Littoral Combat Ship to reporters in a hastily convened conference call, the House Armed Services Committee ordered the Government Accountability Office to investigate the program.

[CORRECTED (9 p.m. Wednesday) To Reflect That Navy Had Planned Interview For More Than A Week] Keep reading →

UPDATED: Budget Cuts 8 JHSVs; Two LCS; Two LSDs Retire Early; 1 Virginia Sub Slips Past FYDP; Analyst Says Retirements AND Cuts Mean Service Won’t ‘Ever’ Hit 313 Goal
WASHINGTON: The Navy plans to cut a total of 16 ships from its five-year budget, reducing the number of ships funded in fiscal 2013 by three, from 13 down to 10.

Most of these ships are expected to be the Joint High Speed Vessel, built for both the Navy and the Army, and other support ships. Several well informed analysts told me they do not expect the Navy to cut warships or submarines if it can possibly avoid that. Keep reading →

Washington: The Navy is a step closer to getting another one of its next-generation warships into the service arsenal.

The USS Fort Worth, the third vessel in the Navy’s new class of Littoral Combat Ships wrapped up sea trials this week, according to a statement issued by shipbuilder Lockheed Martin.

The sea trials, run jointly by the Navy and Lockheed, are the final step before Navy acceptance trials, where the service will determine whether the ship is ready to join the fleet.

Pending the outcome of those acceptance trials, the Navy expects to have the Fort Worth in the fleet no later than next year.

The USS Freedom, the first LCS built by Lockheed, and the USS Independence built by LCS competitor Austal USA, are already in service with the Navy.

Testers ran the ship’s propulsion, command and control and navigation systems through a bevy of real-world combat scenarios.

“The rigorous trial period included maneuverability tests; high-speed runs; power and navigation system checks; rescue boat launch and recovery; and tracking exercises, as well as other ship and system evaluations,” according to the statement.

Lockheed and industry partner Marinette Marine have already begun construction on the fifth LCS, USS Milwaukee.

While getting these ships into service is a high-priority for the Navy budget pressures may throw those plans a little off course, Rear Adm. James Murdoch, program executive officer for LCS, said last week. The Navy must consider some difficult choices for its fleet, and the LCS is no exception. The “well founded” instances of excessive cost growth on the first two ships does not help the Navy’s argument, Murdoch conceded.

But the service has been pushing hard to rein in those costs and “we are doing well with that” — especially on the USS Fort Worth and the Austal-built USS Coronado, the fourth LCS, Murdoch said.

Washington: The Navy’s newest warship now has a new missile system to go with it.

The Navy will deploy the Raytheon-built Griffin missile system on board its growing fleet of Littoral Combat Ships, Rear Adm. James Murdoch, program executive officer for LCS, said today. Keep reading →