Tuesday, January 21, 2014

OK fine; just call Hull-1 USS Salamander (FFG-62) and I won't beat you with an iron rod

I'm sorry - I'm laughing my head off.

Byron has some nice shipfitter words to yell, and Sid will just wave his hand and order another round - but really guys - this is just off the hook funny. Think about all the time we have spend over the last - dare I say - almost decade about LCS. About the real need for a solid patrol frigate. How we were told what "old thinking" ignoramuses we were. About what bad players we were not fully supporting the bright and shiny LCS of Tomorrowland.

Well ... great. A decade later and a few billion down the scupper; via Chris Cavas, you're welcome.
Christine Fox, acting deputy defense secretary ... in a classified memo ... directed the Navy to halt LCS production after 32 ships and begin development of a “more capable surface combatant.”
...
A capability gap already has been identified for an escort ship, said Bryan Clark, a naval analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington. Until last year, Clark also was a special assistant to Greenert, where he led the development of Navy strategy.

“The real need is for an escort to accompany convoys, logistic ships, even parts of the battle fleet. Analysis shows that as a gap. But LCS cannot provide air defense to ships it’s escorting — it only has self-defense,” Clark said.
Yea - read that again. You're frack'n welcome.
A frigate of about 4,100 tons, he said, would be a ship less capable than a 9,200-ton Aegis destroyer, but larger than the LCS.

“A frigate study would need to focus on designs that currently exist, that could be rapidly implemented at a US yard. And they’d probably include designs based on the LCS as well,” he said. “The study could include existing designs as well as starting from scratch. Foreign designs would be part of the mix — just as LCS is a derivative of foreign designs.”
...
“The Navy doesn’t really have an escort vessel that can do this mission. If you get into a large conflict you need to protect ships,” Clark said.
...
Work on future surface combat ships already is underway at the Pentagon by the director of surface warfare, and under the direction of the surface warfare commander in San Diego, but neither of those efforts is focused on a frigate. A new study, Clark said, would be aimed at a ship that could be developed within only a few years.

Regardless of the LCS debate, “this need was starting to emerge anyway,” he said.
Starting to emerge? Shipmate - it emerged a decade ago when any clear-headed analysis showed that LCS was not what a global, power-projection Fleet needed. Sure, I can and had defended the niche for a corvette size ship - but the whole "we don't need frigates, but this will replace frigates and do their job" line was wrong from step one.

The LCS ├╝ber alles mafia was sailing in the face of history, physics, technology risk studies, and just plain best practices - and destroyed careers, reputations and inpuned the motives of anyone who tried to warn them of the wrongheadedness of this reckless act.

Yes, we are now slowly backing away - but the deathbed conversions just rub me wrong a bit. Yes, I am being petty - but come on.

Let me grab a pull quote again,
...neither of those efforts is focused on a frigate. ...
Then what, pray tell, are they focused on? We have two groups studying DDG-X? No, time for a FFG-X team.

Clark is on to something too;
...could be developed within only a few years.
Yep'r. We've wasted enough time. We got the OHP's that way, and they seemed to do a fine job. Benchmarking a lot of the good Eurofrigate designs - we can do it.

All it needs is that one little word everyone is hungry for; leadership.

Chop, chop!

As we move forward - let's drop the never-may-be FFG-(X) and put a little cautionary note out there.  

So many of the problems we have with LCS had to do with falling in love with your own PPT and not thinking critically about what we were putting to luck and best case scenarios. As was warned last decade, once LCS hulls were displacing water, the issues PPT'd over could no longer be avoided. That is what we are seeing now.

One more quote;
Key to that is effective anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-air combat systems. The ASW mission package under development for LCS is getting early rave reviews from surface warfare officers,
No. You cannot give rave reviews to a system that has not been underway and operated by Sailors - much less worked with during a deployment under various conditions or even a real ASW exercise.

Remember that ASW is not some quick "bolt out of the blue" tactical action. ASW "Awfully Slow Warfare" is more of a campaign. It is days, to weeks to months of regular, steady work. There has never been a "war winning" technology that you can pull out of your hat at war and like magic sweep the seas of submarines. Though stated as such, it didn't work for sonar, depth charges, or the homing torpedo. ASW is hard on people, logistics, and equipment - and when you are actually faced with a hostile submarine - it will quickly drain what few ASW weapons you have.

That leads us to the end of the kill chain - our ASW weapons. No reason to go in to too much detail, but this is clear; we have little diversity in weaponeering options, depth of magazine, and to be frank - history shows that we should be suspect of the quality of the LWT that we have.  LWT is the only tool in our ASW set ... so ....

ASW with LCS is all theory and hope - just like so much of the LCS program. With the decision made that LCS will be such an important part of the Fleet numbers wise, we need to get it right ... but for now, I would recommend that people keep their professional reputation intact by not telling people what "rave reviews" you have of a system that hasn't even been through a COMPTUEX yet.

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