Monday, June 19, 2017

Spin The LCS

You know what “spin” is, right?  In case you’re not familiar with the word, it means to present a piece of information in the best possible light.  In today’s usage, it generally connotes a distortion of the facts that borders on lying. 

Here’s a simple, classic example from the Cold War era.  A Soviet and a US runner race and the US runner wins.  The Soviets report that the Soviet runner came in second while the US runner placed next to last.  That’s spin!  It’s technically true but so distorts the truth as to border on lying.

Bear in mind the definition of spin as you consider this article posted by Defense News website about the Coronado conducting periodic maintenance in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam. (1) 

Let’s look at the Navy’s proud claim about the LCS.

LCS Coronado conducted a required maintenance period while forward deployed and in Cam Rahn Bay.  As the Navy proudly states,

“…a demonstration of its ability to conduct maintenance while deployed.”

What the Navy didn’t say was that dozens of Burkes, and gators, and carriers simultaneously demonstrated their ability to not need a scheduled maintenance period in the middle of a forward deployment.  So, a ship that requires many times more scheduled maintenance stops than any other ship in the fleet can either be seen as a maintenance headache and having significantly reduced availability during deployments or it can be spun as a major accomplishment.

The Navy also didn’t mention the enormous amount of money it must have cost to fly Navy technicians, contractors, tools, parts, etc. to Cam Rahn Bay to conduct maintenance that no other ship in the fleet requires.

The Navy also didn’t mention that the LCS maintenance model only works during peacetime.  During war, the LCS isn’t going to be able to pull into Cam Rahn Bay or any other forward base for maintenance.  Even if the ship could, the maintainers, tools, and parts certainly couldn’t.

So, there was a lot of useful and relevant information the Navy could have presented about this maintenance PR stunt which demonstrated one of the many weaknesses inherent in the LCS design and maintenance model but they chose to spin it as an accomplishment, instead.



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(1)Defense News website, “US Navy Littoral Combat Ship Shows Off Maintenance Capabilities Overseas”, Mike Yeo, 15-Jun-2017,


15 comments:

  1. 50 years ago our ships were kicking @$$ in Vietnam. Now we have a Little Crappy Ship that has to pull into Vietnam to make repairs. Does anyone else think things have been going in the wrong direction? Time to make great ships again.

    MM-13B

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    1. MM, just to be clear, this was not an emergency stop for repairs. This was scheduled maintenance. The LCS maintenance concept requires an in-port maintenance stop every two weeks and a more extensive in-port maintenance stop once every 4 weeks or so.

      The reduced manning of the LCS meant that the Navy had to transfer the routine maintenance and repairs from the ship to shore-side stations. Thus, the LCS MUST put into port every two weeks for scheduled maintenance. The maintenance stop in Vietnam was just a publicity stunt, and an incredibly expensive one, but it was scheduled and had to occur somewhere. This is the reason why the LCS' endurance is so short - they have to put back into port every two weeks anyway!

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    2. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?? Just when I thought my opinion of the LCS couldn't go any lower; you tell me that it has bi-weekly planned in port maintenance. Duh, they didn't think an enemy would be able to plan operations around that schedule? When I was a Machinist Mate we did all kinds of maintenance and repairs underway, but we had the people and resources on board. Apparently nobody involved in designing or approving the Littoral "COMBAT" Ship had any idea what COMBAT is. Even though I was in a few operations, I never saw real combat, but a friend of mine was a Gunners Mate in WWII and he'd tell you that you don't get to take scheduled breaks when engaging the enemy.

      MM-13B

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    3. The LCS reduced manning drove the maintenance concept. It's a manning and maintenance concept that is built for the peacetime business case of reducing personnel costs at the expense of all else, including combat capability and at sea endurance. That's why I always say that no matter what weapons and sensors you put on the LCS, it's still got to put into port every two weeks and that eliminates it from serious combat.

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  2. The first LCS USS Freedom was commissioned in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on 8 November 2008.

    Navy awarded contract March 2017 to Northrop for $68.78 million to provide outfitting assembly installation, interim deport level maintenance, engineering support and sustainment of the LCSs systems two 30 mm gun mission module.

    Navy proudly announced the surface warfare mission package will begin developmental testing aboard USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) later this year and will culminate in operational testing and initial operational capability in 2018.

    From

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  3. What about the NSM on the Freedom haven't heard a thing bout that except some committee deferred it last year

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    1. Well, we did a couple of recent posts about the NSM's competitors, Harpoon and LRASM, dropping out of the competition so the NSM appears to be the Navy's choice for a medium range anti-ship missile by default.

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    2. I guess so in other LCS news Bloomberg is now reporting the navy has found another 500 million for yet another one by delaying the IRSTfor the F18 and 35 plus the delay up to 1 year for the refueling John C Stennis miracles never cease

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  4. LCS: "You guys continue looking for that sub. I gotta go back to port for maintenance. See you guys in a few days. Good hunting!"

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    1. The part of the scheduled maintenance that few people have realized, yet, is that in war the ports that the LCS can put into will be far back from the "front lines". It will be a few to several day voyage, one way. So for a given 14 day operating period, 3-5 days will be consumed getting on station and 3-5 days consumed returning to port. That only leaves 5-8 days of actual operating time!!!! And the further out from port the LCS goes (meaning, the more forward deployed - which is where the combat is), more time has to added to the transit totals and the less time there is for operations. Realistically, the LCS is going to have around 3-5 operating days out of each 14 day cycle. That's useless in combat.

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    2. If the frigate-based LCS has the same limitations, the Navy will be repeating the same mistakes they made when they started this program.

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    3. "If the frigate-based LCS has the same limitations"

      The vessel has some inherent problems. The very high and large superstructure combined with the shallow draft make for an inherently unstable platform. That won't change. The ship lacks food/water/freezer storage for any significant endurance. Short of completely redesigning the ship, that won't change. The flight deck, and the entire ship, is weakly built with insufficient framing and plating. Again, barring a complete redesign, that won't change. And the list goes on.

      You can add some weapons and call it a frigate but you can't change the basic flaws that are designed in.

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  5. Well as you say this IS actually the planned way of working the LCS. The CONOPS shall we say.

    In peace time AND in Wartime.

    Which makes you wonder about the missions of the LCS in wartime doesn’t it?

    Any given mission, inclusive of all Module combinations will never exceed “2 week” of wear and tear.

    What’s that?

    Is it? Either 2 weeks, or 2 weeks “like” wear and tear,

    Or any single unpredicted unscheduled breakdown \ damage issue.

    Isn’t it really?

    (As you don’t have crew to do repairs or even standard fortnightly maintenance.)

    I would think that constitutes 1 mission at high tempo use of systems yer ?

    1 Littoral Warfare Engagement ( assuming the LCS in question even got home and didn’t sink \ bust into flames right then and there )

    1 Anti Mine Warfare sweep.

    1 Anti-Submarine Warfare engagement (VERY MUCH see the above assumptions on survivability).

    1 whatever the hell else an LCS does? Err….. Flag flying wasn’t it? And making the rest of NATO \ RIMPAC feel good about their warships, didn’t I hear that one somewhere. (Now there is some spin!!!!)

    Actually ironically, when I read the title for this post I thought it meant.

    "Big News! LCS Rotates quickly 360 degrees."

    And in a sense it did.

    Beno

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  6. I we always end up back to the question of, what the hell is this ship supposed to do?

    This is quickly followed up with, damn what it is supposed to do, what can it actually do?

    Being a MIW replacement is useful.

    ASW it is beyond horrible and probably not worth the money to configure it to do a half assed job at it.

    Anti-Piracy, well yea, its ok, but any ship with a Helo, a Rhib and a team of guys with M4s can do that.

    Anti-Swarm, again, ok, well most combatants should be fine when fitted with a similar missile system. (Question, will Hellfire every be integrated into a Mk.41? - would seem like the obvious solution to the purported swarm threat).

    Other Roles? This is where I think the LCS has yet to be seriously considered. The marines have still to pick, fund, build, or even yet conceptualize the type of next gen ship-to-shore connector. Many are pushing for a two prong solution - a fast transport to get legacy (AAV) or legacy concept vehicles (MPC) close enough to a drop off point to swim ashore, while keeping the big ships of a ESG well off shore. Why not the LCS (at least the Independence). It has a huge mission bay with multiple vehicle lanes. Even if you could only get on 15-20 AAVs, it would certainly allow a dash into shore with the amphibious element of a landing. There are certainly of next to useless LCS hulls we must decide what to do with - plenty to give each ESG 2 to sail with - plus they would have some mothership tender ability from the ESG's big decks. They do have limited self defense ability - more so than a LCU or LCAC.

    Hell chain some MLRS to the flight deck and run in for shore bombardment missions. Off load them once the beach head is secure.

    Just some random thoughts.

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    1. "15-20 AAVs"

      That's an interesting idea! I'll have to give it some thought.

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