Shed the Freedom Class LCS, Build FFGs and Navalized Webber Class?

Littoral combat ship Little Rock (LCS 9) is underway during a high-speed run in Lake Michigan during acceptance trials. Lockheed Martin Photo

Not that I think it is going to happen, but Forbes has a proposal, “Now Is The Perfect Time To Sink The Freedom Class Littoral Combat Ship,” by Craig Hooper. He suggests the Navy end its long embarrassing association with the Freedom class LCS, handing them over to Foreign Navies who might be able to use them. The Navy could then accelerate introduction of the new FFG that are to be built at Marinette which is currently building the Freedom class. If we really need more LCS, we could continue construction of Austal’s more successful Independence class. or

“Alternatively, the Navy could fund a smaller, simpler patrol boat. The U.S. Coast Guard’s cost-effective Sentinel class Fast Response Cutter is already in the field, demonstrating value every day—with about 40 already in service, these reliable, 154-foot ships are doing everything that the Freedom class vessels are not. Sentinel class Fast Response Cutters are deploying throughout the Pacific, forward-basing in Hawaii and Guam, and 6 of the ultimately 64-hull fleet will soon operate out of Bahrain. They may even be based in deepest parts of the American Pacific, operating out of American Samoa. A navalized version of this useful patrol ship—potentially leveraging the powerful F-35 radar system and other useful, off-the-shelf systems—can be whipped up in almost no time, quickly replacing the Freedom class ships currently based in Mayport Florida with a lower-cost, more functional and more strategically-useful platform.”


19 thoughts on “Shed the Freedom Class LCS, Build FFGs and Navalized Webber Class?

  1. I especially like how they identify the FRC as being a “ship.” We don’t have “ships” in the USCG, we have “cutters.” In this case a cutter smaller than a large yacht. Note to NAVY, the primary duty of the US Coast Guard is search and rescue, not search and destroy.

  2. Not a bad idea i will do 40/50 FFG and build some ships similar to the Finish hamina class. All LCS are an embarrassment but the freedom variants are the worse.

  3. There are several aspects of this post which should be addressed.

    First from the ship acquisition POV, using an existing contract can save a LOT of time and SOME money. The premises must be contractual authority (i.e. build more hulls), change approval (substantive changes require approval), shipbuilder capacity both yard and financial. And of course, the ship’s design must be capable of being modified as needed. I don’t think the FRC has enough design margins to meet a Navy rqmt?

    Second and here is where it gets sticky. The USN has NO requirement (right now) for a patrol ship smaller than the LCS. The USN has a need for more ocean escorts. So we either WAIT for OPNAV to write a rqmt, OR someone very senior in the US Navy makes a “command decision” to shift baseline hulls. Not to mention there is a very large infrastructure for training LCS-1 crews at Mayport, many millions have been spent on unique training systems/bldgs, and pier mods.

    Combining the two above, here is what I think:

    1 – IF the Navy wants BIG patrol ship then using the USCG OPC design is doable with the Navy hulls probably being built outside of Eastern Shipbuilding.
    2 – The Navy could look at building one of the OPC designs which did not win the USCG contract, but that would be a new program start which always seems to stymie the US Navy staffers~ So expect lots of upfront funding and too long an acquisition timeline.
    2 – IF the Navy could accept a smaller patrol ship nee light corvette, there are multiple designs available for purchase. And there are US shipyards associated with those (foreign) designs. Their ability to construct new ships depends on the US Navy’s SIZE rqmt.
    3 – As an out of the box suggestion, the USN could go foreign and “buy” a whole class of existing corvettes (that is admittedly iffy). Ships could be bareboat chartered straight from the builder and returned after say 5 years of use. Both Asian and European builders have corvettes in production Now. So the lead time might match the presumed OOS date for LCS-1 class?

    What the Navy should NOT go is award a contract to a major shipbuilder and get in line Behind all their other Navy work. I would think a ten ship procurement Should get the Navy preferential advantage?

    Now to what may REALLY happen – the USN will pay L-M and MMC vast amounts of money to do whole systems replacement on the LCS-!s. Design detail and material procurement probably included. That work will have to be inserted in (i.e. interfere with the Fincantieri production of FFGs), OR it will have to be fully spec’d and awarded to another shipyard. In either case, bring big bucks!

    The cost comparison between FIXING and REPLACING would be very interesting?!

    • I go back to requirements. The LCS was supposed to be a multi-mission replacement for minesweepers, frigates, and large gunboats. I think the real lesson here is there’s no way to do this effectively and then when added, new technology is part of it, costs go up.

      They missed that key attributes are simplicity when it comes to cost. The Navy has learned / realized they need a real frigate. What is left is the minesweeping and gunboat mission. The Mk.VI is providing interdiction boats for the Persian Gulf and Guam, but the program was limited to 12 boats and they are not really as capable as Cyclones based on size (range, deployability). Minesweeping seems like a highly specialized area requiring highly specialized equipment, but technology may change that.

  4. Lockheed Martin should be fined for making this monster and banned to any new job for the navy. Force a company take over for national security or nationalize it and sent to jail many many many people

    • The whole programme is fascinating. It is like those responsible just forget the key lessons and implemented all the bad ones. From the odd need for speed to ‘modualrity’ to there light construction all amazingly bad……

      • The leadership circumvented the normal process for determining the important characteristics of the ship. The result was seriously unbalanced requirements.

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