An artist's depiction of the High Energy Laser and Integrated Optical-dazzler with Surveillance (HELIOS) in action. (Courtesy of Lockheed Martin)

The Navy plans on slapping a laser weapon on a littoral combat ship for the first time in the next year amid increased efforts to field high-energy laser systems aboard surface warships, USNI News reports.

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The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) is underway conducting sea trials off the coast of Southern California on February 21, 2013. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class James R. Evans)

In the latest sign that the Navy seems to have finally given up on its issue-plagued 'little crappy ships,' the service reportedly plans on decommissioning the first four littoral combat ships in 2021 to save cash.

According to a December memo from the White House's Office of Management and Budget, the plan would decommission the littoral combat ships Freedom, Independence, Fort Worth and Coronado, all of which have "between 12 and 17 years of planned hull life remaining," Defense News reports.

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Some 74 years ago, Richard Thelen, a then-18-year-old gunner's mate on the cruiser Indianapolis, vaulted into the air when a Japanese tornado sank the ship on July 30, 1945.

"I remember mostly how quickly it sunk. I had to stay alive out there. Every time I was ready to give up, I felt my dad's grip, and saw his face," said Thelen.

Only 317 of the ship's 1,196 sailors survived after five days afloat in the Pacific. Some died from dehydration; others were killed by sharks. It was the biggest loss of life in the Navy's history.

Now, a new Indianapolis is ready for service.

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The littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords launched a Naval Strike Missile on Tuesday, marking the first time the NSM has been fired in the Indo-Pacific region, the Navy told Insider.

The NSM, along with additional firepower from U.S. and Singaporean forces, sank the decommissioned frigate USS Ford as part of an exercise with Singapore's navy in the Philippine Sea on Tuesday.

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The U.S. Navy's Littoral Combat Ship was supposed to be cheap, fast, flexible and easy to build.

But after spending $30 billion over a period of around two decades, the U.S. Navy has managed to acquire just 35 of the 3,000-ton-displacement vessels.

Sixteen were in service as of late 2018. Of those 16, four are test ships. Six are training ships. In 2019 just six LCSs, in theory, are deployable.

While that number should increase as the remaining ships in the class finally commission into service, the LCS's low readiness rate calls into question the wisdom of the Navy's investment in the type.

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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.

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