Sunday, January 14, 2018

LCS: IN TROUBLE ... AGAIN

14 January 2018: Some of you will no doubt recall that last year (and during 2016 as well) we posted pieces about the U.S. Navy's newest ships, the Littoral Combat Ships, which we considered bad in almost every category. And not one made it into fleet acceptance without some major issues - structural as well as design, operational, and mission. Well, it got quiet for a while and we thought all was well. Now it appears that maybe not so much. Of course, we can't blame ice as a design or structural problem. Oh! Wait a moment: there was ice on the Great Lakes in January? Who'd have thought! And I guess these ships will only be operating in the tropics - maybe! So, here's a little piece kind of summing up the history of these remarkably bad ships. Courtesy of Business Insider

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The US Navy's latest littoral combat ship, USS Little Rock, was commissioned in Buffalo, New York, on December 16 and scheduled to depart the following day for its home port at Mayport Naval Station in Jacksonville, Florida. 

Unfortunately for the Navy's newest commissioned warship, the weather has not been cooperative.

The ship's commanding officer, Cmdr. Todd Peters, decided to delay the departure from Buffalo for three days because weather conditions on Lake Erie. It left on December 20, traveling through the Welland Canal to reach Lake Ontario and then through the St. Lawrence Seaway for a regularly scheduled stop in Montreal.

Photos posed on the ship's Facebook page on December 27 showed it had made it to Montreal. The ship was scheduled to leave the next day for Halifax, Nova Scotia and then reach open ocean by December 30.

However, because of ice and a lack of tug boats to guide it out, the Little Rock remains in Montreal, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Courtney Hillson, public affairs officer for the US Naval Surface Force Atlantic, told Business Insider on Thursday. 

Ice in Montreal Canada in January! Who'd have thought?!
 

While in Montreal, the ship's crew has done routine repair work, including on a cable associated with the ship's steerable waterjet, which is part of the propulsion system. That system has caused problems for other littoral combat ships.

Those repairs were completed on January 4, Hillson said, and in the days since the crew has been doing routine work to "ensure readiness" for any future taskings. 



The vessel is 389 feet long and has a draft of 13.5 feet, according to a Navy fact sheet. It has a top speed of over 45 knots and displaces about 3,400 tons with a full load.
It has a modular design that allows it to carry out anti-surface, anti-mine, and anti-submarine operations, and its officers and crew are trained to perform a number of tasks. It is outfitted with a helicopter pad, a ramp for small boats, and can carry and deploy small assault forces. 


Its flight deck is the largest of any US Navy surface combatant, and its armaments include an MK 31 Rolling Airframe Missile System, an MK 110 57 mm gun, crew-served and small-caliber guns, and other weapons systems that can be tailored to specific missions.

The ship is scheduled for more training and combat-systems testing in 2018, Peters, the ship's commanding officer, told The Buffalo News. 

The ship's crew completed a previous round of assessments scheduled for 121 days in only 63 days. Once the next round of testing and training is finished, the ship will start conducting missions, according to The Buffalo News.

While the Little Rock's current problems are caused by nature, it has been waylaid by manmade issues in the past.

In September 2016, the Navy halted all littoral combat ship operations after the fourth accident in the span of a year. The halt also prompted the Navy to have leaders at the Navy's Surface Warfare Officer's School review the littoral combat ship training program and recommend changes if they saw fit.

Congressional leaders have criticized the littoral-combat-ship program. Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain has blasted the growing cost of the ships as a "classic example" of defense acquisition gone awry. McCain and others also expressed frustration when the White House intervened in May to include an extra littoral combat ship in the Navy's 2018 budget request. 

There you have it, friends: the fresh water (and even the salt) can freeze in the winter time in Canada and the northern United States! Amazing!

Until next time, 
                                Fair Winds,
                                 Old Salt 

And PS: We finished off 2017 with just shy of 71,000 readers! WOW! and thanks to all of you for your interest!