Friday, March 10, 2006

Tiffany Navy: the LCS chapter

Ungh. Just ungh. Not only is it a Little Crappy Ship, it is an expensive Little Crappy Ship. Thought LPD-17 was a single point..

The cost of the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ships will jump as much as 44 percent, a revelation that casts new doubts on the service’s ability to estimate its shipbuilding expenses.

The ships were to have cost about $220 million apiece, but Navy figures released Feb. 27 show the price tag rising to $316 million in 2008, leading to an average of $307 million for each of the planned 55 ships in the class.
What are you buying for $316 million a hull?
1xMH-60, 57mm, and RAM for AAW.
They are still working on ASUW and ASW. Still PPT programs. Seriously, it is very hard to get solid answers on the ASUW and ASW part. Remember when this started as Streetfighter?
As of mid-2001 the Office of Naval Research was considering construction of a Littoral Combat Ship with a displacement of 500 to 600 tons. The LCS would have a draft of about three meters, an operational range of 4,000 nautical miles, and a maximum speed of 50-60 knots. The cost per ship might be at least $90 million.
Want to see what the Danes are getting for about 60% or less of the cost?
1 ea 127 mm Gun Mk M/02 LvSa (5” Mk 45 Mod 4)
8 ea Harpoon SSM (2x4)
2 ea Sea Sparrow SAM VLS Mk. 48 Launcher (1x6)
7 ea 12.7 mm Heavy Machine Gun M/01 LvSa

2 ea 35 mm CIWS Mk M/0? LvSa
4 ea Stinger Lv M/93 (2x2)
MU90 323 mm Anti submarine torpedoes

Additional space for:

2 ea Landing Crafts of the LCP Class
2 ea Agusta-Westland EH-101 Helicopters
Before all the "Yea, but the speed of the LCS....the shallow draft!" Read this.
A 2003 analysis by David D. Rudko noted that the Navy has stated the Littoral Combat Ship must incorporate endurance, speed, payload capacity, sea-keeping, shallow-draft and mission reconfigurability into a small ship design. However, constraints in current ship design technology make this desired combination of design characteristics in small ships difficult to realize at any cost. Speed, displacement, and significant wave height all result in considerable increases in fuel consumption, and as a result, severely limit Littoral Combat Ship endurance. When operating in a significant wave height of six feet, regardless of the amount of fuel carried, the maximum endurance achieved for a wave-piercing catamaran Littoral Combat Ship outfitted with all modular mission packages is less than seven days. Especially noteworthy is that when restricted to a fuel reserve of 50% and a fuel carrying capacity of Day tanks, the maximum achieved endurance is only 4.8 hours when operating at a maximum speed of 48 knots. The Littoral Combat Ship can achieve high speeds; however, this can only be accomplished at the expense of range and payload capacity. The requirement for the Littoral Combat Ship to go fast (forty-eight knots) requires a seaframe with heavy propulsion systems. The weight of the seaframe, required shipboard systems (weapons, sensors, command and control, and self-defense) and modular mission packages accounts for 84% of the full displacement, and as a result, substantially limits total fuel carrying capacity. Since initial mission profiles required the high-speed capability at most five percent of the time, the end result is a Littoral Combat Ship that has very little endurance and a high-speed capability it will rarely use. Refueling, and potentially rearming, will require the Littoral Combat Ship to leave littoral waters and transit to Combat Logistics Force ships operating outside the littorals for replenishment. Given the low endurance of the Littoral Combat Ship, its time on station is seriously compromised.

According to the DOT&E, the accelerated acquisition timeline for LCS leaves very little time to apply any lessons learned from the construction/operational testing of Flight 0 ships to Flight 1 hull and mission package designs. The two Flight 0 hulls will likely be different designs and their construction schedules will overlap. Hull #1 will be delivered approximately nine months prior to hull #2. The final design of hull #3, the first Flight 1 ship, will start a few months after delivery of hull #1 and prior to the delivery of hull #2.
While I try to stop going to the wet bar - will someone tell me how we are going to build a fleet with the above plus,
... the Navy’s $3.3 billion cost estimate for its new DD(X) destroyer was called unrealistic; the experts forecast the destroyers would eventually cost more than $4 billion apiece.

But LCS, at the lower end of the cost scale, “is intended to be the poster child for cost-control,” according to one congressional naval expert.
Call it what you want, but if it cost $3-4 billion - it isn't a DD.
“That’s not a good sign for the DD(X)/CG(X) program,” said the congressional source, referring to the planned CG(X) cruiser that will follow the DD(X) destroyer design.

“In terms of estimating costs, there’s less there to estimate with LCS,” he said. “It’s a simpler ship. How did they get that so wrong already?”
You don't say! Has anyone been fired yet? Oh, nevermind. I'm going to see how to get in the wet bar.

Hat tip reader KK.

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