Monday, September 27, 2010

LCS Tiffany Engine performs as expected


One of our original critiques of the design compromises that brought us LCS was its unnecessarily complicated, delicate, and touchy engineering plant. We have hit on it many times - some of the best hits coming from Sid.

Well Big Navy - you owe us another beer. Via
Gary Robbins,
The San Diego-based USS Freedom -- the first of the Navy's new Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) -- has experienced a propulsion problem for the second time in less than six months and will have to undergo an engine replacement.

"High vibration indications were discovered in the starboard-side gas turbine engine while the ship was operating off Southern California," said Commander Jason Salata, a spokesman for Naval Surface Forces, San Diego.

"A borescope was done and damage was found to the engine's blading. The engine will be replaced during a scheduled (servicing) visit to Naval Surface Warfare Center in Port Hueneme," which starts on Sept. 27.

Freedom has a second gas turbine. But the ship switched to its two diesel engines when the problem arose offshore on Sept. 12. In early May, the vessel had to pull into General Dynamics-NASSCO shipyard in San Diego for repairs when issues developed with a waterjet, which is part of the ship's propulsion system.
Don't blame the builder. The did the best they could to meet the speed fetish requirement - here is the result.

The original sin of LCS was the speed requirement. Math is hard - engineering is more harder, so to speak.

Another data point of many that we are well past the point that we need to stand athwart the LCS program and yell, "Halt!"

War in the littoral. How many hits from a 23mm from the back of a pickup truck can this ship take and still limp away? Ponder.

It is a bad ship. We can do better. If we want to win at sea, we must.

Hat tip Steve.

35 comments:

GIMP said...

Please, the Little Crappy Ship was never meant to win at sea.  It has only one purpose; to throw some money at some defense contractors.  Probably some flag on his way out the door who is now working in the defense industry making a killing.  The problem is not the ship, which is worthless, but the system, which rewards senior officer retirees for selling out their active duty counterparts while they're at the top of their game on active duty so they can make a fortune in the industry right after they retire.  The problem is not indigenous to the Navy, as the USAF has seen the same thing, and likely the USA too.  The solution to LCS and similar purchases of very expensive but militarily tactically (although politically useful) useless equipment is to reform military retirement law.  Above a certain paygrade upon retirement, you don't get to work in the defense industry, period.

Will this hurt many innocent retirees in the short term, yes.  Keep the system in place for a decade and it will be just the way it is, and nobody will be looking for defense industry jobs upon retirement.  There are just too many unscrupulous people at the top getting out and screwing everyone who has to actually fight the wars to not do this.  Ultimately it will result in a cleaner system, less waste, more transparance, and far less actual and perceived conflict of interest.

Grumpy Old Ham said...

"Speed costs money (treasure).  How fast do you want to go?"

LT B said...

We do not believe in victory at sea.  Coming from POTUS, we don't believe in victory.  So, mirroring the CinC, we are more worried about social welfare along with rainbow dust and unicorn milk rather than training, equipping for and then producing victory.  We have become a joke.  Pathetic. 

Byron said...

I don't have a problem with them working in the defense industry...so long as they stay a mile away from the aquistion process. And Big Navy needs to take back the decision making process from Congress. Tell Congress, this is what we need, fund it or not. Don't screw with it, don't pad it with pet one item sole source parts or equipment, don't keep adding crap we don't want or need.

Grandpa Bluewater said...

LCS Delenda Est.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

I believe in Victory at Sea! I have the whole series on DVD.  If we could just have some people in Congress and the media watch it, to see what the USN is supposed to be about, maybe things would get better. Now I'll have Song of the High Seas running through my brain all day. 

sid said...

Trent motors are finicky....

Just ask British Air.

sid said...

Some more largely forgotten history...

The CF-6, which is the core motor in the LM2500, was adapted from the TF39, which was built to meet military specs.

And I'm sure there are many here who can attest to the abuse the engine can take.

The Trents -and GE90 for that matter- are designed to much tighter efficiencies. As such, they are relatively delicate...and were designed with the presumption any failures will be met with an unfettered AOG network.

But you can't fight a warship that way.

Oh. Sorry.

Forgot:


WE ARE TOO GOOD TO FIGHT!!!!

Byron said...

A lot of somebody's palms got well oiled on this class of "ships". Be nice to find them and string 'em up.

LCS delende est, indeed, Grandpa

Sid, we had proven gas turbines with an established repair history and parts pipeline that virtually any shipyard that does Navy work can jump right on and fix. The same goes with the diesels; instead of those fancy Italian jobs, why didn't they go with Cats?

UltimaRatioRegis said...

So the question asked here many times, "What does 45 knots give you that 35 knots doesn't?"

A:  Multiple turbine replacements, huge repair costs, lack of availability, and one big pain in the ASS. 

NAVSEA delenda est, too.

Mike M. said...

Hurt?  It would be well worth it to pay them (and the civilian counterparts) extra to compensate.  Honest government has to be paid for - but it worth the cost.

Mike M. said...

I'm not sure if anyone's palms got greased.  Ships would have been built in any event.

No, this sounds like the usual process...somebody got overenthusiastic about the requirements, and nobody had the clout to push back.

NAVAIR used to have a pretty competent top-level design capability in house.  It gave us an internal ability to understand what was technically possible and where the tradeoffs were.  I understand NAVSEA used to have something similar.  Pity OSD made us jettison it so we could be more like the Air Force.  :(

Byron said...

Mike, years ago, I made a mistake building something. My foreman, who was a pretty good guy, looked over what I did and asked a question: "Who helped you screw this up?" I told him several times that I was the only guilty party in this mistake. Finally he roared at me, "YOU HAD TO HAVE HELP DOING THIS, NO ONE COULD F*CUK UP THIS BADLY BY THEMSELVES!".

He made his point, told me to fix it and make it go away. The point I'm trying to make is that while there might not have been malice aforethought, there were certainly a lot of fingers in this mud pie. Were it up to me, all those fingers would be cut off so they could never make this mistake again.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Your foreman musta known my Senior Drill Instructor....

Scott B. said...

<span>Turd Polishing : <span>An engineering term referring to the process of examining a product, process, or system for defects, fixing the defects, then repeating as new defects appear, instead of re-engineering the solution with fewer defects. </span></span>

Byron said...

Well, he was a First Sergeant in an Engineer company back in WW2... Does that count?

UltimaRatioRegis said...

I think it does....

xbradtc said...

Speed costs more than just money. Speed imposes a cost on every other single attribute of the ship. 

TNSTAAFL.

MR T's Haircut said...

Could have just left Transom space for outboard motors.. this is terrible.. as a Tax Payer I want my money back..

Actus rhesus said...

My favorite senior enlisted asschewing: senior chief to E3 "shipmate your dad must have been hung like a horse because if you were the fastest swimmer there's no way you made it far without help"

Southern Air Pirate said...

Cdr,

I am going to play devils advocate here, but how many times have we bought some design in the hopes that it would be the next big thing in powerplants?
Just some examples:
USS Tullibee with the S2C reactor driving an turbo-electric system, in service from 1960 to 1988. Found out that Turbo-electric drives don't work well in submarines.
USS Glenard P. Lipscomb (SSN-685), a modified Sturgeon hull with the same sort of Turbo-electric drive in service from 1973 to 1990.
USS Langely CV-1 and as her previous form USS Jupiter AC-3, used a turbo-electic steam drive, that really helped her escape that Japanese surface group in 1941.
Lexington Class Battlecruiser, later Carriers. Found out that in actual war time experiences taking a 21in torpedo near the engine spaces can kill the engine and it takes a bunch of work get it on line again.
New Mexico class Battleships, used turbo-electric drives
Steam engines driving a paddle wheel abeam of the ship, in high/rough seas the design didn't work to help maintain control of the ship
CODAG (Combined Diesel and Gas) powerplants in some of our cold war warrior escorts. More complex, more things to break, more maintenance time, more money.
Allison YT40 turboprop, tried on the XFV-1, XFY-1, XF-84H, XA2D, XA2J, P5Y, R3Y; even after this engine caused the death of about 20 some midshipmen in the 50's the powers to be that bet thier careers on it in BuAir still pushed for its use.
Westinghouse J40 used in the F7U, F3H, A-3A, F4D. It took a few years and finally the failure of two of could have been designs before the engine was canx'd
Those are just some examples I could find in the Navy.

Nine times out of ten the answer to all of this is the fact that we will see a repeat a few years later in an even larger size because it wasn't built right and we aren't thrown the right amount of money at it. Also someone's career gets behind making this work and dollars to donuts some junior officer (like O-4 and below) see thier boss flailing in an attempt to make a pig fly. Death spiral for a design that should have meet a wire coat hanger early on in its gestation.

G Lof said...

Scott, there a reason you "keep pushing your failures" as hard as possible, until you break them to pieces. It is cheaper to build one problem child, and find as many problems as possible, than it is to build a new ship in order to find your next fault.  The Freedom may turn out to be a total FU, but if we can learn as much from her as possible, then she will not be a wash out, just a set of expensive leasons.

It could be that the RR turbine can't do the job, then maybe the USN can stop using it before we waste to much money on it, The only sad thing is  was that the LWM force the navy into using them on the Zumwalt.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

BIGTIME thread jack:

George Blanda, late of the Oakland Raiders, has passed away at 83.  What's the big deal?  He played until he was 48.  When he looked 58.  He played with Sid Luckman and against Franco Harris (who hadn't been borh when Blanda played with Luckman).

UltimaRatioRegis said...

<span>BIGTIME thread jack:  
 
George Blanda, late of the Oakland Raiders, has passed away at 83.  What's the big deal?  He played until he was 48.  When he looked 58.  He played with Sid Luckman and against Franco Harris (who hadn't been borh when Blanda played with Luckman).</span>

UltimaRatioRegis said...

G Lof

That explanation would carry more weight if, in the design process, so many fundamentals were not ignored in the LCS.   They are warships that are not built for war.  And expensive little buggers, too.  The $2 billion that went into the first 3 could have been useful in SLEPing the FFG-7s.  Ask Byron for a t-shirt....

Southern Air Pirate said...

The problem though is when careers are on the line and they start to knowningly push designs that should have meet a wire coat hanger while the design was in small test scale stage. I would again like to saw that we spent over 50 years trying to make a turbo-electric drive system work on both submarines and ships. Only to find out that in surface ships, they were more complex, more subject to shock damage, and harder to get back on line when shocked offline by a strike/near-miss/own main battery, and ineffecient when generating motive power (more watts wasted in generation then used to move the mass). That the disadvantages were almost constantly being outweighed by its advantages. The only place that a turbo-electric drive has worked effectively when tied into a diesel engine is has been with trains and even those have been surpassed by improved diesel-electric engines.

MR T's Haircut said...

I am saddened.. He was a great.. QB, Kicker, Punter, you name it.

Redeye80 said...

Sad day.  One of last great players who played for the love of the game.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

True, that. 

Never a contract dispute.  Though he thought Halas was a cheap SOB (he was), said he was too cheap to buy Blanda a kicking shoe.

Redeye80 said...

Careers on the line or do the right thing? Self verses team?

We are so screwed!

spek said...

The MT-30 is a sexy engine - the Horsepower/Weight is outstanding.  To push that much mass to 45 knots is amazing.  But they suck gas like nobody's business and, a HUGE red flag is - no reliability data and the LCS program and this design have enough issues.  Maybe someone should have made the decision to go to 40 knots instead of 45 and put in the LM2500's?  You can get complete parts sets off the shelf at just about any Navy base in the Western World.  One problem Independence is NOT having is trouble with her GTs....
Hey, it looked good on paper: RR engines and this engine in particular have a pretty good track record.  Someone gambled and lost....

Curtis said...

I know it's entirely unlikely that he read 'A Door into Summer' by RAH.

Curtis said...

No No,
The DOD does not TELL congress about who has the decision making authority.  After the Tanker debacle in SEC AIR office of procurement and the A12 and the LCS and countless other struggles to eschew responsibility, well, Congress and the people got tired of it.

Scott B. said...

<span>Spek said : "Hey, it looked good on paper: RR engines and this engine in particular have a pretty good track record.  Someone gambled and lost...."</span>
<span></span>
<span>Well, RR just logged another $10 million or so for the MT-30 GT that already deserves some *engine product improvement program* :</span>
<span></span>
<span>*************************************************************************</span>
29 September 2010 : Rolls-Royce Naval Marine, Inc., Walpole, Mass., is being awarded a $9,786,048 cost-plus fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for engineering and technical services on the Rolls-Royce gas turbine engine product improvement program.  This contract is being awarded to research potential improvements to Rolls Royce gas turbine engines.  Delivery Order 0001 will be issued on the same day of contract award with initial contract funding in the amount of $800,000.  Work will be performed in Walpole, Mass. (70 percent), and Indianapolis, Ind. (30 percent), and is expected to be completed by September 2015.  Contract funds in the amount of $800,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  This contract was not competitively procured.  The Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division, Ship Systems Engineering Station, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (N65540-09-D-0016). 
<span>*************************************************************************</span>
<span></span>
<span>Expected to be completed by September 2015... </span>

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