Monday, February 13, 2006

LCS - Yardbird's view

The great thing about this blog is that there are some regular readers that are experts in areas that you just don't run into everyday - unless you have lunch at Singleton's on a regualr basis.

Anyway. Your "is it $225 million a copy or $400 million a copy...with or without weapons...with or without a mission-module" Little Crappy Ship, seems to have some challenges that, really shouldn't be a large issue if (1) you don't get shot at or catch on fire, or (2) your job involves regular and high price corrosion related repair. Not my words, but I like the questions....let's review:
  •  70 man crew...and everyone, except for the CO (and XO I presume) will
    hold dual billets. CMC will also stand bridge watches and be qualified in
    Navigation. The supposed hook for the Dixie cups, is that they will make it
    up the promotion list to Chief much much quicker...yeah, pull the other one.
  •  The crew will still have to pull PMS and 3M, but other tasks (like
    corrosion control, maintaining fittings) will all be done by "qualified
    technicians (people like me, I suspect). Of course, this will mean higher
    maintenance costs, especially since the Navy intends to dog the hell out of
    these ships, utilizing a Blue/Gold concept.
  •  The hull is HSLA-80 steel. I don't know if this is the same thing as
    HY-80. If it is, again, more costs for welding. Hull thickness (except for
    the bow, keel, plating around rudder, shafts will be 1/4". Superstructure is
    Aluminum, with a bi-metallic welded datacouple (just like the Perrys). I
    figure about 5 years into the life of these boats, from the time they start
    lighting off the plant, we'll start seeing significant corrosion repairs.
    The article also talked about some new high dollar welding process,
    supposedly to provide high-quality welds with minimal distortion. I suspect
    they were talking about a process I'm familiar with. Of course, one of the
    photos they used, showed a welder grinding a weld...something you never do,
    if the weld is sat. (He was looking in Surface Warfare magazine) And I thought the Navy bragged when they came out with
    the Burke, "We learned our lesson with aluminum, never again!" And here they
    are again.
  •  HSLA-80 is a real crappy material.  Very prone to cracking in stress areas. We've gone through some pain dealing
    with it, cutting out whole sections of it and replacing it with DH-36, which
    is an excellent high-yield, high stress-point material. The Navy did (at
    least from the deckplate view of someone who has been working on ships since
    the days of the Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Shangr-la, and cruisers like the
    Dale) a real crappy job of design oversight. .... I'll predict right now, that before those Little Crappy
    Ships get 3 years old, they'll start having material issues...serious
    problems with the aluminum by 8, maybe 5 depending on thickness.
Something to chew on.

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