OPC and the LCS Replacement (SSC), Sister Ships?

I am not the only one seeing a possible opportunity for commonality between the Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) and the Navy’s projected Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) replacement. Here is a comment from Tim Colton’s Maritime Memos.

“The LCS program having proved unaffordable, largely thanks to the Navy’s idiotic passion for bells and whistles, they are now looking for suggestions for what they call a small surface combatant, or SSC. Read the announcement on FedBizOpps… The key words in the RFI are right up front: Small surface combatants enable the Navy to implement the Defense Strategic Guidance (DSG) imperative to develop innovative, low-cost, and small-footprint approaches to achieve our security objectives.

“It sounds as though we now have a potential overlap between the Navy’s SSC and the Coast Guard’s OPC, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it would be nice if, for a change, the Navy could manage to build some affordable ships. I know, shades of Gary Hart, but I think this is what we need, not more SSNs at $1.8 billion a pop. May Day, 2014.”

There is more information on the solicitation here.

Quoting from the solicitation, “This type of ship provides Combatant and Fleet Commanders a uniquely suitable asset for Theater Security Cooperation tasking and select sea control missions. These small surface combatants build and strengthen maritime relationships by operating with partners and allies in various theaters of operation.”

They are “asking for existing and mature design concepts.” The eight shipyards that bid on the OPC, and particularly the three that were selected, should be in a particularly good position to meet the demands of the solicitation.

We know they want more survivability and range, but they also want low cost and small footprint. To me that means a ship of similar size to the existing LCS but without the requirement for extreme speed that has made them high strung, crowded, and fragile. A slightly lengthened OPC can meet the requirements. Replace the 57mm with a larger gun and the Mk38 mod2 with CIWS/RAM/SeaRAM. Install CAPTAS (active/passive variable depth/towed array sonar) aft and use the extra length to add VLS and a second CIWS/RAM/SeaRAM, and you have a very viable, long ranged Small Surface Combatant.

If the Navy and Coast Guard could share a common Small Surface Combatant, they could probably be made in very economically.

75 thoughts on “OPC and the LCS Replacement (SSC), Sister Ships?

  1. Unfortunately it probably cannot work this way round (OPC > SSC) on this occasion. The navy has indicated that “small” surface combatant may be a category that ranges up to around 5,000 ton size or more, and if they want increased survivability over existing LCS then starting from an OPC design base that was developed for low-intensity conflict and (relatively) low cost and may use commercial specs in some cases could entail costly modifications or renewed compromises.

    Getting the SSC right first (think 5,000 ton hull with large mission bay and 1-2 helicopters) and adding 20 basic hulls (half the installed power, pre-wired with OA network but no mission system) for the CG to be outfitted as OPCs might have worked better. Economies of scale might have meant that navy can affordablly build the higher specs, and CG may have ended up with higher than required specs also. Never mind the benefits of one day being able to surge the combatant force because the cutters have the space, weight, possibly even connections for adding Harpoon, towed array, a mission module or two etc..

  2. It has been a frequent discussion here, but the government fails at a lot of opportunities like this through a failure of truly long-term, strategic thinking. The combination of politics with the Congress and Presidency and the intervals between elections completely confounds what capitalization planning does get done by the services. The only silver lining is pork-barrel spending, which does provide assets, but not always what is needed… And then there is the whole contracting process. Makes one wonder how we accomplished being the arsenal for democracy and won WWII.

    The above diatribe does actually have a pertinent point to this topic. The SSC is a stupid idea. There, I said it.

    The SSC concept sounds to me like it is FULL of political expediency at the sacrifice of capability. “Smaller footprint?” That just means the politicians in office right now want us to spend less. A lot less. So, let’s come up with an even smaller, cheaper replacement for a ship that was so small and cheap, we didn’t even want to call it a frigate…

    The Navy wants to spend Billions on a ship program which duplicates the capabilities of the ships our allies already operate? And for what? To go operate with those allies… Is this to make the allied fleets and politicians not feel like they are lorded over when operating with the US? (Again, a sign of the political times — The US isn’t to be a world leader anymore, just one of the team…) If my (insert allied country name here) butt was sitting in a corvette, sloop, or other glorified patrol boat, I would appreciate the US showing up with a vessel which adds to the overall capability of the formation, especially if hostilities were imminent or underway.

    The weakest design the USN should consider is HII’s “Patrol Frigate” version of the NSC. If a situation truly arises in the future where “small footprint” assets are needed, and none of our allies’ dozens of equivalent ships are available (or the countries are unwilling), call the CG for assistance. Add some firepower to the OPC, and you’re ready to go.

    • What the SSC will be is still very much up for grabs. What the Navy things of as small and what you and I think of as small may be two very different things, but I do think the Navy needs warships considerably smaller than Burkes, especially as the Burkes continue to grow. One thing for sure is that the SSC will have more installed weapons than the LCS.

      As Pred noted they are considering up to 5,000 tons, which is a bit bigger than the FFG-7s. I still think there is a place for combatants the size of WWII destroyers (about 3,000 tons), ships large enough to go virtually anywhere, but still small enough to produce in relatively large numbers.

      • As an aside, when I posted the above yesterday, pred’s post wasn’t appearing (at least not for me). Software or internet glitch?

        As far as ship capabilities & sizes, it is an interesting question which probably deserves its own discussion. If we look back to classes like the Coontz’ or Knox’ classes, the US definitely built some missile-era smaller vessels with a lot of weaponry packed on, but this has waned in the last 30-40 years. Reading some reviews of Soviet missile cruisers, I recall one of the observations being that they were “very cramped” with so many weapon systems as they carried. An evaluation learned from the reviewer’s own experience on “cramped” US ships? There seems to be a balancing point where thesize of ship compared to its weaponry is ideal. This results in a modern-day WWII-destroyer-sized ship barely able to carry all the self-defense systems. (SLQ-32, Nixie, RBOC, CIWS/RAM, etc.) This leads to a minimum size for a ship to have a robust capability in one area plus all the required self-defense systems. I’d guess this to be 3500-5000 tons.

      • Bill, Re Pred’s post, it was hung up in the system that asks for moderation on some of the comments. I had to release it. Let me know if you don’t see it now.

        There are some very powerfully equipped vessels out there now in the 500 ton range with a full set of offensive and defensive weapons, so it is possible to make a well rounded warships of under 3,000 tons, but I suspect if you took one of the OPC designs and made the changes I suggested, it would displace about 3,500 tons.

      • I see it now. Just couldn’t see it when I posted my first comment above, even though his submission time/date stamp is clearly earlier.

  3. While I am in a contrarian mood, let me throw out this idea: Let’s get rid of the Gator navy. The US Navy pours tons of money into 30 vessels that never get used in major operations. The last major amphibious operation was Inchon for crying out loud!! There was one small (battalion-sized), relatively unopposed amphib op in Vietnam (1965 – very early when only VC were opposition) — Operation Starlite. They were used only as a diversion in 1991 Iraq. For the LICs or embassy reinforcement or humanitarian ops, they’re great, but probably overkill when looking at the percentage of the US Navy’s ship-building budget…

  4. Should we refer to this cutter hull as the WMSM instead of the fired contractors designation of OPC?

      • Don’t think the author has necessarily read anything here. He is firmly in favor of an upgraded NSC, he has been working with HII, and he does not mention the OPC.

        I think Bath Iron Works may be in a very good position because they can offer both high and low end alternatives. They can offer an upgraded OPC at the low end or, because of their relationship with Navantia, they can offer a version of the Aegis frigates they built for Spain, Norway, and Australia (still building).

  5. Word on submissions here: http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140523/DEFREG02/305230023/1001/DEFSECT
    Interestingly Bath did submit a variation of the OPC,

    “General Dynamics Bath Iron Works also confirmed it submitted a response to the ship RFI, but spokesman Jim DeMartini declined to provide further details. The Maine shipbuilder is not building a small combatant, but is focused on construction of Arleigh Burke Aegis destroyers and larger Zumwalt-class stealth destroyers.

    “Bath, however, submitted a design for the US Coast Guard’s offshore patrol cutter that was one of three chosen this year for further development. The award, however, is under protest, with a decision expected in early June.”

    • I have never understood why the Navy is pushing for the LCS. Sure, it’s a new program worth lots of money but the ships themselves seem to be very underwhelming. They are lightly armed, lightly crewed and if they were to get into trouble, I just don’t see them doing very well.

      I understand the appeal and fascination with “multi-mission” and “modules” but I don’t think those should be selling point for a U.S. Navy warship. Truly effective warships should be able to handle a variety of missions without having to swap out “mission packages.”

      My favorite defense being used is to highlight their speed and how fast these ships are, something like “These ships are so fast and maneuverable that they will be able to get in and out before the enemy even knows they were there.” Or better yet “They will be able to outrun anyone they come up against.” Once again, it sounds great to the uninformed and yes, in most cases, they should be able to outrun any surface vessel. However, it doesn’t take a Master’s Degree to know that you’re not going to outrun a missile or other modern munitions.

      Somebody, somewhere will be making money off of these ships and I truly hope that the sailors who end up serving on them will not end up paying the price for that themselves.

      • The Navy has to replace 30 frigates, 20 someodd minesweepers, and 13 PCs. Many of those minesweepers and almost all of the PCs are being used in the Persian Gulf right now. And using frigates for drug interdiction has never made a lot of sense. They’re slow, expensive to operate, and way overkill for the mission.

        I think it is questionable if the Navy needs/can afford 52 light ships that can’t do the things a frigate can do. But it seems pretty obvious they need at least 32. And it seems that a follow on will more likely resemble a frigate.

        The LCS will be uparmed, the ship and modules are still in development.

        The bigger concern to me is that the Navy seems to have put all their small ship eggs in one basket, and there are certain things an LCS will never do well. (like long endurance or arctic missions). Which is actually exactly what the OPC is going to be designed for.

  6. I wasn’t clear in the first paragraph of my comment. My point was that the minesweepers and PC’s currently deployed to the high risk Persian Gulf are far less able to defend themselves than the LCS will be.

    • I see your point and I agree that they Navy does need new ships. I had forgotten that they were trying to replace multiple classes of ships. My only concern is that there seems to be a lot more “sizzle” than “steak” when it comes to the LCS.

      • My gut tells me it goes/went something like this:

        Surface warfare community wants CGs and DDGs.

        Air community (when it comes to their opinion on surface ships) would much rather have 3 DDGs than 2 DDGs & 1 FFG to guard/support the CVNs.

        Submarine community wants cheap alternatives for surface ships, so budget money is freed up for more subs.

        The LCS was seen, mainly, as a multi-mission, CHEAP ship to handle the leftover tasks the politically weak warfare communities (mine warfare, brown-/green-water) needed done. I truly believe 7/8 of the Navy leadership don’t care a bit about the amount of steak or sizzle in the LCS. And this is what happens in that situation.

        I think the LCS makes a great super-size PC. Persian Gulf, Horn of Africa, Drug interdiction in Carribean/GoM, it will be good at. As an ocean escort, it will be marginal – helo & an ASW module will give it some capability, but range / fuel consumption will be an issue. As a mine warfare vessel, it is an horrible embarrassment. Maybe in 10 years, if the module is upgraded past actually working, all the way to ROV, then I will give it props, but for now, thank God we have the Brits and our old mine ships.

      • Bill, I agree there are substantial parts of the Navy that see the LCS as more of an annoyance that is soaking up money that should go to their program, rather than as a solution real Navy problems. For this reason they may actually be looking for a cheaper alternative to the existing LCS design, which might suggest an more heavily armed OPC rather than a more heavily armed version of an existing LCS.

  7. Bill – I totally agree with your assessment. You make some really good points.

    Chuck – I agree with you as well but it’s too bad we know that will never happen. One, it makes too much sense and two, the Navy has too much pride/arrogance to use an “enhanced” USCG ship design.

  8. I kind of like the idea of some Navy version OPCs too, if done right they would be kind of like a ASW destroyer escort.

    I don’t see it happening though. I suspect BIW’s proposal is a Nansen type frigate derivative, which is a lot more ship than an OPC.

    • My assumption would have been that BIW would have presented both their OPC and the Nansen but the report was that they presented specifically the OPC, I think the Nansen is just too close to the DDG to be considered.

      • Oh, that’s interesting. The BAM OPC was kind of what I assumed after reading some of the articles but someone suggested to me that given Bath and Navantia’s relationship and the Hagel requirements on the SSC that the Bath proposal likely resembled a Nansen.

        I saw a report that alluded to the possibility of the Bath OPC being a SSC proposal, would be interested to see the report you are referring too.

        I personally agree with the theory that it would too closely resemble a DDG and not meet USN needs, but a lot of people are never going to be happy until the SSC is a miniBurke. A 5000 ton Aegis frigate that meets USN requirements and is built to Navy spec is going to cost a billion. At that point, why not just build more Burkes?

    • Here is an old GAO report about the Osprey Class.


      So to your point, whatever they do will be second guessed. Some of the criticisms are similar to LCS, and some are second guessing in the opposite direction. Similar complaints regarding problems with the MCM equipment. And for instance on the Osprey, it is stated that since they weren’t self deployable, they were no longer needed. Whereas on the LCS the criticism is why do we need such a big, expensive, and fast minesweeper.

      Can’t win for trying. People are going to complain no matter what.

      My preference would be for a mix of LCS 1, LCS 2, maybe some National Patrol Frigates (with a big enough gun that could be used for fire support), and some ASW equipped OPCs. Which would work as far as economies of scale if the programs were coordinated with the USCG while offering a balanced mix of SSC platforms.

      But I think what I would do if I were Stackley, Greenert, and Mabus, is push for a significantly upgraded LCS 1, and a slightly upgraded LCS 2, and stick with those production lines because that is the best way to get funding for the program. Which is what I think they will do.

      • Re Mine warfare, Lets not forget that a WPB and a bunch of Coasties was involved in intercepting an Iraqi minelayer before it could do its dirty work.

  9. When one looks at Flt. II (with the upgrades), Flt. IIA, & Flt. III Burkes and really evaluates capability (both spectrum of operations / capabilities and “firepower” for lack of a better term), does anyone else see anything short of a cruiser? I really think the Burkes have become THE do-it-all surface combatant. In my opinion, the Navy was smart (brilliant?) to call them destroyers, because to Congress that sounded cheaper, but what levels of capability they have! Eventually there’s going to be, what, 70 or 80 of them? There will be plenty to handle equipping task groups (carrier, amphib., etc.). What is “needed” are some specialty ships.

    The Navy made (and is still making) the mistake of thinking the do-it-all (a.k.a. “multi-role” or “multi-mission”) model could be imposed on a small combatant. Sorry, but if it were that easy, why not make the Burkes only weigh 5000 tons and build 120 of them? Smaller ships are going to be specialists. They’ll be great at one thing, OK at another, and maybe marginal/passable at a 3rd thing. For example, a WWII DE was a good sub chaser. Sometimes killed them, but often saved the convoy by keeping enemy subs away. They could also do shore bombardment, and it was “OK,” but would a CL with 15 6″ guns have been better? HECK YA!! WWII BBs had paravane equipment. Did that make them good minesweepers? Ah, NO! So what I’m getting at is this:

    The LCS is acceptable as a PG for places like HOA, Persian Gulf, and interdiction with LEDETS in Carrib and GoM. It could also do similar work in other places, like Mallacca Straights or the Mediterranean. But it’s never going to be a good minesweeper. It’s never going to be a good ASW ocean escort. The USN should design and build minesweepers which are optimized for that very specialized operation. An open ocean escort could have a little more flexibility built in, but again, to be ideal, a 25-knot ocean-going in most sea states vessel with long endurance is ideal. Truthfully, either the OPC or NSC would fit that bill. The NSC will have more weight capacity, if the USN is worried about making part of the sales pitch to Congress “flexibility.”

    • I agree that they are really cruisers. In the Navy’s view the distinction is that the cruisers are better equipped to support a staff, the AAW commander in particular. That is why they want to keep 11 CGs in service for as long as possible. Even the “flight IIIs” will not equal the CGs in that respect.

    • That was the most in depth article on the SSC in a long time.

      To be honest, it looks like it is going to play out about like I thought. The “frigate” is going to be an upgraded Lockheed LCS. What frustrates me most about the whole process has been the lack of decisiveness and of openess.

      If you want to have legitimate AAW capability, the ship is going to be about a billion dollars. There is no way around that, because its means you need SM and an expensive radar to utilize it. The European frigates that have legitimate AAW capability are expensive too. What a lot of Americans don’t seem to understand is that most light frigates don’t have this kind of ability. That is the inherent weakness of light frigates and corvettes. For the life of me I can’t understand why the Navy didn’t realize they needed to have ESSM and either torpedoes or ASROC on LCS in order to sell it politically. It didn’t have to be loaded for bear but it needed to have adequate armament. And that level of weaponry could have been done for a reasonable cost on the LCS.

      The truth is that mines and subs are a far greater threat to the the USN than surface ships,.. But now we are going to have either 24 or 32 LCS, with two different classes. Between the different hulls and the now truncated program the modules are going to be expensive and the utility of swapping modules greatly reduced.

      We will probably build 10 or 12 frigates out of the Lockheed LCS whose hulls are not optimized for frigate type operations. Which is less than ideal. But it’s not the end of the world either, the finished product will be acceptable, and the hull optimization will have benefits as well as liabilities. We are not going to be able to build enough destroyers and cruisers anyway, that’s going to be a huge problem in about a decade. So have a frigate with SM and a CeC will help fill some of those gaps. Geez though, this could have been done a lot more efficiently and for less taxpayer dollars.

      None of this is the end of the world. The development of the modules isn’t wasted money because they can be used on other platforms like AFSB and JHSV. As much criticism as the modules have received if you look at other navies they are all following the US lead on it. The Japanese, the Brits, and the Italians all have similar programs in development. The future of mine warfare is going to look a lot like what the LCS program is working on, and ASW is going to be increasingly done by vessels other than full fledged frigates, because no one can afford an adequate number of hulls to deal with it.

      • As to your comment I could agree more so I might suggest a vessel similar to the modified freedom class is probably what we are looking as so assuming that it I suggest a weapons load of essm for aaw nsm for ssm and torpedoes for asw defense this would cover almost every thing these ships will encounter will probably upgrade gun to 76mm also. Some of these can be used from decommissioned ships to save money. Any that’s my two cents worth.

  10. I would have been fine with that too. ESSM and torpedoes would have been typical of a light frigate, and the LCS would have had some differentiating features like speed and modularity.

    But I don’t think that is what they are going to do after these 32. I think they’ll moderately upgrade the existing LCS and the next 8, and I think they are going to go all the way with the “frigate”, put the mini Aegis on it, and standard missiles. If they do that there’s no way there going to get 20 more ships.

    Too many cooks were in the kitchen on this program. Any decision was obviously going to involve tradeoffs. But they never really drew a line and said this is what LCS is going to be. Just have kind of stumbled there way through the program.

  11. We’ve discussed overall Fleet needs elsewhere here at Chuck’s, but it really bears out with this discussion. What surface combatants does the US Fleet really need? As I see it, the following mix is needed:

    1) High-threat, multi-role assets capable of independent as well as coordinated operations (DDGs & CGs)

    2) Ocean Escorts to protect assets moving to and from the high-threat area (so, protection mostly against subs. (Air threat would only be a worry if Russia or China sent bombers, which were not interdicted by DDGs/CGs or our own air assets.)

    3) Small Interdiction/Force Protection assets. Something which could protect a naval facility entrance or patrol the choke points and confined bodies of water around the world. (LCS actually wouldn’t be bad at this, if they’d give up the multi-role modules and “do-it-all” mindset and design the thing for the mission. Note also, this class of asset perfectly fits with Chuck’s “Cutter X” concept.)

    Past that, the jobs are highly specialized/limited in scope. In fact, I can only think of 2: mine clearance & shore bombardment. (Of course the whole Anti-Ballistic Missile Aegis program has created a third specialty area, but that need will be filled by Arleigh Burkes for the foreseeable future.)

    The USN has the DDGs & CGs. They have the LCS in enough numbers already to do more than they need in mission area #3 above. They just need to open their eyes and re-focus. To fulfill role #2 above, they need a Frigate. A proper frigate.

    • An upgraded Lockheed will get the balance of the contract. The question still remains how the existing 24 will be outfitted/upgraded, and how much the next 8 will be upgraded and if that order is split down the middle like the first 24 ships. The other question is how much will they upgrade the Flight 1 Lockheeds, my guess is quite a bit, which leads one to wonder how many of them we will get.

    • Good, albeit a little old, article here with some artists impressions I hadn’t seen yet: http://news.usni.org/2014/02/25/whats-next-lcs

      I agree it will be Lockheed for the win, Austal will get consolation prizes, and HII will get the prize for “USN’s biggest missed opportunity.” Frankly, the Austal design shouldn’t continue, but either HII’s PF4921 or Lockheed’s “up-sized LCS” will have the capacity and dedicated systems (vice modules). It seems a shame Lockheed should be a shoe-in without more detailed analysis and comparison. Again, politics and broken contracting system superceding capability (at least maybe…). It’s the range issue, and that’s tied to propulsion. I don’t see a stretched Freedom having the range and endurance of the NSC-based CODAG PF4921. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

      • Lockheed has proposed a variant with a less complicated propulsion system, that is cheaper, lighter, and has more endurance. It will also have less speed and redundancy, but that is the tradeoff.

        That’s one of the things I’m interested in seeing how it plays out.

      • Me too, James. I’m hoping maybe some of the “secrecy” (really keeping the decision making process out of the political process?) will result in a real capabilities-based decision. I’m sure the sales pitch will highlight how the decisions were made in a hindsight fashion.

      • If they go all diesel, as they list as an option, the ship is unlikely to go over 30 and probably no more than 28 knots. If so then the hull is really inappropriate. It will slam a lot more than a ship designed to spend most of its time at 24 knots or less. and it will be less efficient. (Sorry I can no longer find the Damen presentation where I saw this.)

      • No need to apologize, I should apologize for whining. I just need to proofread my comments better before I hit send.

        This site is a gem on the internet. You wouldn’t know it when you first find it, it looks just like one of many other naval blogs, except with a focus on the Coast Guard. But then you see that the USCG Commandant gives you interviews, and has even posted on the site. Other publications like Defense Industry Daily use you as a source, and some of the regular posters were commanding officers and have been published in their own right.

        Not trying to brownose, just trying to let you know you have created a first rate place to get information, and I appreciate it.

      • Thanks for the kind words. I’m trying to make it a level field for discussion.

        You won’t see any advertising on the site, though I have had some offers, because I want to make sure there is no hidden agenda or bias.

        The commenters really make the site. They point to things I have missed and keep it on track.

        It seems the audience is growing. Today the site passed the total number of hits for the whole of 2013. Average views per day was 322 in 2012, 426 in 2013, and so far 533 for 2014.

        Thanks to all the contributors.

  12. Why is the Lockheed design considered a slam dunk? Their LCS implementation has been plagued with issues. They do great powerpoint but their ability to deliver quality, on time and on budget is very suspect.

    • Not surprising that Lockheed is talking very confidently. That cost nothing. The fact that the Navy is not saying anything in public suggest to me that their decision may not sit well with entrenched interests–like Lockheed.

      Lockheed claims they can be ready more rapidly than other alternatives, but they are choosing not to consider all the work that has already been done on the OPCs. Bath in particular is no push over.

      • And if one of the HII Patrol Frigate designs meet the requirements, it’s hard to dismiss a still-hot production line, though that window is closing fast…

  13. I don’t know. I’ve read a half a dozen things from high ranking Navy officials praising Lockheed’s investment in the Wisconsin facility, and that shipyard would be in dire straits without the LCS program. The Freedom Class seems like the easiest way to move forward politically and operationally. To be honest I would be shocked if they didn’t come out the winner. But hey, Bath and HII are big time defense companies with big time pull in their own right, so we’ll see how it pans out.

    To be honest I kind of feel the same way about the OPC contract. It’s hard for me to see a team of Bollinger, Gibbs and Cox, and Damen not winning the USCG OPC contract. Again, Bath and Navanti aren’t lightweights either, but beating those three is going to be awful tough. I’d put the Bollinger proposal as a two touchdown favorite. Eastern winning the contract would be a shocker, but it sure would be fun to see the political fallout if they did.

    • I think it a question of how much the Navy wants to pay. If they are willing to spend more than they have been spending for the LCSs, Lockheed is the heavy favorite, with HII an outside chance. I also think it is possible the Navy is looking for something cheaper in which case Bath is the likely leader.

  14. http://breakingdefense.com/2014/10/you-spot-i-shoot-2-navy-aegis-ships-with-sm-6-kill-target-together/

    The link above is one of the reasons I think the flight 2 LCS/frigate, is going to be pretty highly upgraded. I think they’re going to want the small Aegis on it like the Nansen’s have in order to be fully integrated with the Burkes.

    I think it will be a good ship, whether it’s Bath or Lockheed, but I think it’s going to cost 800 million apiece.

    • I don’t think there is much doubt the LCS replacement will have Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) and VLS which can host standard missiles. The question is how much organic sensor capability it will require. In a way, CEC could mean the new ship may not need much at all, because the sensors and targeting could be on other platforms–AEW aircraft, an AEGIS ship, or perhaps some day by satellite.

      I do suspect it will have some sort of phased array radar, but they have gotten smaller and more affordable. There are scaled down version of AEGIS including the AN/SPY-F on the Norwegian Navy’s Fridtjof Nansen-class frigates and the even smaller, yet to deployed AN/SPY-1K intended for corvette sized ships . The Israelis are putting a phased array radar on their Sa’ar 5 corvettes which are smaller than the 270s. The Australians have developed one in cooperation with an American Company that they are putting on their 3600 ton ANZAC class frigates (much smaller than the NSC).

    • Cooperative Engagement Capability also means that virtually any ship that can store the Standard missile in their VLS can serve as an extension of the AEGIS ship’s magazines. This could be very important because there is currently no way to reload them at sea (at one time there was a theoretical capability but it did not really work).

  15. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/16/us-navy-ships-idUSKCN0J000720141116

    This article says some of the same things as the DefenseNews article, but some conflicting things as well. It seems to me the decision is likely to be made very soon, likely over the Holidays.

    What still isn’t clear to me, is whether we are going to have a new upgraded LCS, which many of those upgrades filtering down to the ships already built or in contract, or very upgraded LCS for the remaining 20 called something else other than an LCS. Still not clear to me if there is every going to be a downselect either.

    If they move forward with the current plan to disperse the USMC moved from Okinawa all over the Pacific, then they’re going to either move another ARG to the theater, or buy more JHSV’s. And either way, they are going to need a high speed escort for the JHSV’s, and the current LCS can’t do that. That makes me think the diesel only Freedom is unlikely.

    • A diesel only Freedom class would basically need a different hull. On the other hand they might use larger diesels and smaller turbines, like LM2500s so that they have a higher cruise speed and still a relatively high top speed.

    • If all the SSC becomes is a version of the LCS, I think many people (including some in Congress) will not support it.

      The LCS is controversial to the level of program destruction, and if the Navy thinks they can rename it and make a few superficial changes (aka “lipstick on a pig”), they are grossly mistaken.

  16. Some thoughts on survivability of smaller ships: http://cimsec.org/lcs-ssc-survivability-dilemma/14310 I would argue that the higher number of DDs (71) and DEs (11) sunk during WWII compared to large ships sunk (23) is more a reflection of their greater number exposed rather than survivability.

    The enemy inevitably makes greater efforts to sink larger potentially more dangerous ships while smaller ships may be passed over to attack more significant targets. It is a different kind of survivability.

  17. USNI has a great post on the shortcomings of the LCS. (http://blog.usni.org/2015/01/22/remember-what-we-are-rewarding-with-lcs-to-ff) This in particular caught my eye, “(LCS-3) Based on fuel consumption data collected during the test, the ship’s operating range at 14.4 knots is estimated to be approximately 1,961 nautical miles (Navy requirement: 3,500 nautical miles at 14 knots) and the operating range at 43.6 knots is approximately 855 nautical miles (Navy requirement: 1,000 nautical miles at 40 knots).”

    I think this may actually mean that the Freedom class LCSs has less range than the Webber class (2500 nmi).

  18. am I the only one not able to connect to any usni sites? my brand new computer is telling me it’s a connectivity problem at the host site. says site is on line but not connecting.

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