After years of frequent mechanical failures ad embarrassing cost overruns, the Navy finally plans on deploying three hulls from its much-derided Littoral Combat Ship fleet by this fall after a protracted absence from the high seas, the U.S. Naval Institute reports.
- Speaking to reporters on Friday, Naval Surface Forces commander Vice Adm. Richard Brown announced that the Navy is "deploying LCS this year, it's happening," despite the fact that the service didn't deploy a single one off its small surface combatants this year despite officials' previous plans to deploy several to join the 7th and 5th Fleets.
- "Two ships are going on the West Coast; one ship is going on the East Coast, followed shortly in the beginning of '20," USNI News reported. "And that marks the deployment of LCS; there will always be LCS forward-deployed now, just like we designed the program."
- This deployment would mark a major milestone for the so-called "Little Crappy Ship," which as Task & Purpose has previously characterized as a floating garbage pile: A DoD Operational Test & Evaluation review published in 2016 revealed, among other alarming deficiencies, a distinct lack of redundancies for vital systems designed to reduce the chance that "a single hit will result in loss of propulsion, combat capability, and the ability to control damage and restore system operation."
- "Neither LCS variant is survivable in high-intensity combat," according to the DoD report. "Although the ships incorporate capabilities to reduce their susceptibility to attack, testing of analogous capabilities in other ship classes demonstrated that such capabilities have limited effectiveness in high-intensity combat."
- But the issue isn't just redundancies for critical systems, but redundancies for personnel as well: According to LSC briefing information reported by USNI News, LSC crews suffer from a "lack of distributable inventory" and "insufficient LCS prioritization to support current/future billets," which create a shortage of sailors that, in turn, creates a crunch on training that will likely hinder operations readiness long-term.
- "One challenge presented by small crews is that each crew member, regardless of rank or rate, is vital to the operation of the ship," USNI News reports. "Unlike other ships, there is almost no redundancy within LCS crews and the unplanned loss of even a single crew member may result in major mission degradation."
- None of these shortages stopped lawmakers in Congress for giving the Navy three more LCS hulls than it needed in the fiscal year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act while, for some strange reason, opting to slash funding for the modules that would make the existing vessels more effective in a high-intensity combat situation, because of course they did.
- Read the full report at USNI News.