19.9.16

THE PROTOTYPES WERE LAID DOWN FOR A DIFFERENT JOB DESCRIPTION.

The contemporary successor to the motor torpedo boat has been under development for at least ten years as a class of littoral combat ships.  They're being built at a shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin -- presumably safely removed from Iranian PT boats and Russian submarines.  The seventh of the series, LCS 13 Wichita, was launched over the weekend.  They're not steaming properly out of the harbor.
All three littoral combat ships delivered to the Navy from Marinette have suffered setbacks since leaving Wisconsin. Last December, the USS Milwaukee suffered an engineering casualty during its journey to California.  In January, the USS Fort Worth’s engine was damaged while out in Singapore. In mid-July, the USS Freedom sustained damage to its diesel propulsion systems during Navy exercises when seawater got into an engine system.

The engine failures and problems caused by crew members have placed a spotlight on the entire LCS program.

U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wisconsin) says the problems with the LCS program aren’t so much the ships themselves, but with all the new technology, there’s a gap in training.
Perhaps accompanied by a lack of urgency, there's nothing on the threat board comparable to putting a bomb-damaged Yorktown into drydock at Pearl Harbor to do enough patching in three days to have her ready to sortie to Point Luck and add her weight to the carriers defending Midway.  (The Japanese thought their four carriers would be sufficient, and Shokaku and Zuikaku went back to Japan for a more leisurely refit.  Oops.)

RUNNING EXTRA.  A Littoral Combat Ship is a powered frigate designed by a committee.
The U.S. Navy effort to abandon the frigate and reinvent it with the quite different and very innovative LCS design was risky, and it largely failed to achieve its objectives. The innovative design did not work out as expected. What many sailors really wanted was a replacement for the 4,100 ton Perrys, which were very popular with their users.
Recent developments in induction-motor and laser-based weapons are likely to render the ships obsolete reasonably soon.

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