Critical of the LCS

USS Independence (LCS 2)

USS Independence (LCS 2)

Retired Admiral James Lyons had a piece up in the Washington Times on Sunday.

The whole thing is worth a read, particularly:

The overall costs of the LCS are largely driven by the speed requirement of 50 knots. It can be safely assumed that between 30 percent and 40 percent of the current hull, mechanical and electrical (HM&E) costs are directly attributed to the speed requirement. It is not transparently clear what a 50 knot capability (as opposed to 30 knots) confers in the threat today of Mach 1-plus air and surface launched guided-stealthy missiles plus 70-plus-knot torpedoes. Furthermore, in any type of seaway, the ship will not operate at 50 knots nor will it operate at 50 knots in 20 feet of water unless the intention is to dig a trench in the seabed.


In the bid to reduce weight (for speed) both designs include significant amounts of aluminum, but little or no composites in their superstructure. One is almost all aluminum. We continue to ignore the lessons drawn from the Falklands war where British ships with aluminum superstructures burned to the gunwales in a littoral sea fight with Argentine aircraft-delivered iron bombs and French short-range Exocet missiles. Perhaps we should review the logic presented in the mid-1980s when we opted for an all-steel Arleigh Burke DDG-51 destroyer.

Murdoc was once a rather strong LCS supporter, but that was when they were cheap and on schedule. That has changed, and so has my belief that this is a good program. Certainly no DD(X), but not something I want our Navy to hang its future capability on, either. Adm. Lyons suggests something along the lines of the Norwegian and Spanish Aegis frigates, and I’ve often asked “where is the 21st century FFG-7?”

Claims that the LCS are important to keeping the Navy in the fight against today’s terrorism and piracy don’t really hold a lot of water with me. The aircraft carrier is still the heavy hitter in nearly any environment, and if we’re talking swarms of smaller surface combatants or dangerous littoral operations, shouldn’t we be talking about corvettes and PT boats rather than $550 million light destroyers?

More commentary at CDR Salamander and New Wars.

ALSO: Contractors market LCS boats to Navy:

The Navy’s first littoral combat ship, the Freedom, has only been in commission for a little more than three months, but contractors are already aspiring to add new boats and accessories to go with the “pickup truck” warship.

Defense giants Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman each used the mid-January Surface Navy Association symposium outside Washington to showcase designs for experimental, modular boats that could potentially deploy from an LCS close to shore and venture up shallow lakes and rivers.


  1. How about building an honest-to-God battleship with guns that really reach, and plenty of armor to boot? Littoral Combat Ship my ass. More like Lying Contractor (Money) Sinkhole.

  2. Now, Murdoc’s on record as supporting the idea of a true battleship (or even a monitor-type bombardment ship) for the fleet. But even if we were to get such a fine ship, it wouldn’t fill many of the roles the LCS is intended for.

    Build some BBs. Bring them on. But I really think a small corvette/cutter type ship would do more for the US Navy in today’s wars and trouble spots than anything else.

  3. Chad,

    It’s not just the contractors, but the entire procurement system that’s at fault here. It used to be that contracts were let by the Navy and contractors were bound by the bid numbers they put up. If the project went over budget, then they had to eat the loss.

    That isn’t the case anymore, and the contractors are driving the system, rather than the Navy stepping up and saying NO!.

    Part of that problem if the issue of program managers of flag rank who are keen to transfer their job when they retire to the company they are working with. It has more than a whiff of corruption to it, and it would be a wonderful day if all retiring GoFo and equivalent DoD folks were prohibited from any government contract work for a period of 5 years or more from retirement. Like that’ll ever happen.

    To my mind, there is a need for a littoral combat vessel, but this ain’t it. This discussion has been going on for several years now, and I don’t have an answer as to how to rectify it. What I do know is that there are several excellent foreign designed vessels that we could buy or build under license which would easily and reasonably address our needs. We should look to that direction.

    However, until the USN gets it’s head out of it’s backside and starts coming up with a cogent, affordable plan for our future Navy and it’s needs, and starts addressing the broken procurement system, we’ll be seeing more of this sort of thing, not less.

  4. I have some serious issues with the LCS. The concept is sound but the boats built are not. They are practically helpless vs most threats and offensively, they have less firepower then an attack helicopter. The so called mission modules will do little to change that.

  5. Mission modules? Whoever came up with that concept needs to be put away for life. How are you supposed to swap out mission modules in wartime? Withdraw the vessel from it’s op area? What takes it’s place? Where will the modules be staged? Who crews them? How do you coordinate crew training? talk about dividing loyalties within ship’s company…!!!!!

    How is a CO supposed to trust the training of the folks who come onboard with the mission modules against his own crew and their abilities? Who stands watches where? Who reports to DC when?

    It’s a load of defense geek crap and this sort of stuff needs to stop NOW! Build a vessel designed to go into harm’s way and survive. Train it’s crew altogether to fight and defend the ship. Give it a primary and a secondary mission and train as though your life depended upon it, because it does!.

    I literally live across the street from Bath Iron Works. I see what CAN be done and what IS being done. I can see new Aegis destroyers being built on the ways from my living room window. We need to go back to the days of the FFG and stop this multi-mission foolishness.


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