LCS woes continue

LCS 4: Threatened?

This doesn’t seem terribly encouraging: Navy downplays chance of LCS cancellation:

The Navy does not share a Senate committee’s view that a combat ship slated for construction in Mobile could be canceled if higher-than-expected cost estimates prove correct, a spokesman said this week.

In e-mailed answers to questions posed by the Press-Register, Lt. Bashon Mann said the Navy will continue to monitor costs and “assess the need for further action” on two littoral combat ships to be built by Austal USA. He did not elaborate.

Mobile shipbuilder Austal is part of a team headed by General Dynamics Corp., a defense contractor headquartered in Virginia.

It is LCS 4, the second of the trimaran Independence-class ships, that’s in danger of being cancelled. The lead ship of the class is well over half complete. Earlier this year, the second of the Lockheed Martin built monohull Freedom-class ships was put on hold and then cancelled due to cost overruns. During the reviews of the program, we learned that the trimarans were also suffering cost issues.

Meanwhile, it appears that the builders of the LCS-esque FSF 1 Sea Fighter are lobbying hard to get more of their catamaran ships built. The Navy apparently isn’t listening.

Murdoc’s always thought that there might be a place for a few Sea Fighter-class ships in both the Navy and the Coast Guard.

Comments

  1. At first glance I thought that pic was of the SDF-1, which would be a tremendous asset for any service branch to have. But then I realized it was actually the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard.

  2. I think this break through along with the very real needs of high powered ASES radar for missile defence and of course the possibilities of extreme range Rail Gun systems added pretty much is ringing the death nell for a small large number fleet. http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Northrop_Grumman_Exceeds_Requirements_For_High_Power_Solid_State_Laser_Phase_3_Program_999.html That was always the maker 100kw for military effective system they went well above that and its scalable to boot. A high powered laser system will bring crazy BMD, air control, ship defence. High power needs will be more and more so not only are the ideas going to be large ships enforced but nuclear capable to boot. CXXN ? anyone. Hopefully ships like the Sea Fighter and others will get scooped by the Coast Guard were small dispersed anti terrorism/piracy/smuggling is the primary.

  3. When st proposed, I thought LCS was great idea – then again I was thinking that it was going to be operational version of the Sea Shadow. The current version of the LCS’s are simply not worth it. The way the program is constructed, its basically a cash cow with virtually no real combat capability. The vessel basically lacks the ability to defend itself vs anything more capable then some Somali pirates. Its vaunted, mission modules are really just a budgetary smokescreen to disguise the true cost of the ship. I hate to say it – but I really think the Navy needs to start awarding ship contracts to foreign companies. Something needs to be done to get American ship builders back into the business of building capable ships, not legalized bribery.

  4. (Mark this under the ‘I can’t believe I’m about to say it’ category after time spent in overhaul/drydocks…) James: To be fair to the shipbuilders, the Navy also needs to get back in the requirements process, clean out NAVSEA of the ‘business process’ ivory-tower theorists and return to its roots in ship design and construction – which means there need to be operationally experienced/saavy engineers making the decisions and holding the yard’s collective feet to the fire. Ditto over on the air-side while we’re at it :) – SJS

  5. It’s apparent to me the LCS is becoming a scapegoat for the Navy to continue building its big ships. What happened when the LPD-17 class went $400 million overbudget? We got even more of these flawed dinosaurs. And don’t get me started on the DDG-1000 battle cruisers!

  6. We don’t need to go to foreign shipyards. We need to reestablish our own commercial shipbuilding capability. Everyone else puts a charge on a foreign ship entering a domestic port to do just that. We gave away our commercial shipbuilding capability though stupid laws that penalize our own industry in favor of foreign governments and their kickbacks to our traitorous officials. We either ought to put capitalism back in the shipbuilding industry or the Navy should nationalize the shipyards. There’s no reason to pay the CEO of GD $20 million a year to be on the public dole. That’s not capitalism. It’s corporate welfare.

  7. ‘The preponderance of protests is symptomatic of an acquisition system that’s collapsing under its own weight,’ said Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute. ‘At the very least, the protests can be seen as a vote of no confidence in the system. Contractors used to be very restrained – they were inclined not to make protests. Now, they know any decision can be revisited, if not reversed or blocked,’ he said. What the Defense Department needs to do, those analysts said, is make the best moves early on in the contracting process. ‘It is critical for the service leadership, and the Source Selection Authority in particular, to be very clear on the specific evaluation factors of technical, schedule, cost, past performance, management, and proposal risk,’ said James McAleese of McAleese & Associates in McLean, Va. ‘This is critical because most SDD (System Development and Demonstration) down-select decisions are based upon the credible capabilities of the offerors, rather than a finished weapons platform.’ Aviation Week It is a system of smoke and mirrors. It is a procurement system based on the credible capabilities of the contractors, and they have none. They have absolutely zero programs that are on schedule and on budget. They are all out of control, so then how do you make a credible case for the next program? The answer is, you can’t. The whole bs system is falling apart.

  8. Dfens, What also doesn’t help is that warships are big and complex. What I mean is, if the Army or Marine Corps need a new widget, it’s not too too much trouble for them to corral some smart people in the ranks to just make it. I understand that they have their own bloated projects and contracting problems (more the Army, but still), but in a pinch they can make something on their own that can get the job done until their leaders f*ck it up. But the Navy’s needs are way beyond armored trucks and accurized rifles. But can you imagine getting some sailors together and having them design a decent destroyer?

  9. I can imagine the Navy having a design bureau that designs ships just like the Russians do. Much of the cost of the ships is the integration of the electronics, just like much of the cost of aircraft is in the avionics. A Navy design bureau could have a warship ‘hardware in the loop’ simulator that would form the basis for the electronics suite in all Navy ships. It could be upgraded continuously. The design bureau could evaluate the threats the Navy faces and respond to them in an integrated way, unlike what the Navy currently does where it is fragmented into a myriad of separate programs that answer to no one and care about nothing but their own survival. Could a competition based free market shipbuilder do a better job with less bureacracy and quicker reaction times? Sure. Is that what you’re saying we have now? Obviously not. What we have no is absurd. The only pretense of capitalism is the $20 million salary of the CEO. The contractor has zero risk, zero liability, zero incentive to do a good job. In fact, they have less than zero incentive to do a good job, they are provided with a financial incentive to do a bad job and perform incompetently. If that’s the alternative, I say we nationalize the shipyards. We should have done it 20 years ago.

  10. From Bloomberg yesterday: Northrop Grumman Corp., the nation’s biggest warship builder, has mismanaged construction of the first in a class of new Navy amphibious warships, delivering a vessel with ‘serious quality problems,’ according to Navy Secretary Donald Winter. The USS San Antonio was commissioned into the fleet during a January 2006, 21-gun salute ceremony at Ingleside, Texas. Yet the Navy says it has suffered from problems ranging from faulty steering and leaks to delays, incomplete work and cost increases. Because of ‘inefficiency and mismanagement’ the Navy ‘still does not have a mission-capable ship,’ Winter wrote June 22 to Northrop Grumman Chief Executive Officer Ronald Sugar in a letter obtained from the Pentagon by Bloomberg News. The ‘persistent shortcomings’ of the nine-vessel $13.5 billion LPD-17 program ‘are troubling’ and also raise ‘grave concern’ about the company’s capability to manage the Navy’s new $36 billion DDG 1000 destroyer program, Winter wrote. The whole procurement system is going to hell – and the world isn’t getting any safer.