Monday, November 30, 2009

LCS's "Bottom 5"

I will only say this because it bears repeating; we do not have a command climate in the Navy that allows honest and fair debate of some issues. Full stop.

LCS is one of those issues. The author - rightly - does not want his name, rank, or former position known.

What I can tell you is this individual has an extensive background and first-hand knowledge of LCS. It is worth your time to review.

All I asked him was, "What is your LCS Bottom 5?" Below is his response.

Take a deep breath and dive in. Byron, roll around in #2.

1. They chose to make RSO the LCSRON.
Huge mistake. RSO is literally where people went to retire, people went who were on light-duty, females went when they were pregnant. It was a building full of unskilled, unmotivated individuals. They didn't have a clue on how to do their job as an ISIC, and even now - they've made improvements by leaps and bounds, they're still waiting on some of the 'dead-weight' to transfer/retire. One of my favorite quotes came from one of the LCS-[REDACTED] CO's as he described his frustration with the N6 shop,
" We can lead them to water, we can shove their heads in it, but I'll be damned if I'm going to stick my lips to their asses and suck... "
Part of me wonders if they assigned RSO as the LCSRON because someone wanted the program to fail.

2. 3-M.
They decided they wanted to make use of Sked via distance support. They took away the admin rights of the LCPO's, and push their boards from LCSRON to the ship. There's no printed boards, 13 week reports or anything. This boils down to zero accountability for maintenance, and depending on the crew, maintenance either gets done or it doesn't. The ISIC isn't enforcing these discrepancies even though they are openly talked about. I won't even begin to talk about how the minimum manning affects maintenance or their philosophy of hiring civilians to do maintenance.. well, I take that back - here's 1 example. A civilian shows up to do an A-1 MRC. Doesn't check in with anyone, just shows up and goes down to the gear to start maintenance. When we stop him and ask what he's doing, he says he's been hired to do this MRC. When asked about the 5 related maintenance checks that must be done with that card, he says, "We weren't hired to do those." Hmmm... not a great solution. Oh, and the N43 shop at LCSRON doesn't have a single Combat Systems guys actively working to fix the 3M problems that exist such as wrong MIPS and MRC feedbacks.

3. Standards of acceptance.
The standards for accepting various pieces of gear continually shifted as it became apparent that certain systems weren't going to work as advertised. To date, the main gun can not be employed accurately via the DORNA FCS. The IFF doesn't sync with the TRS-3D target data. The WEBR 2000 is almost useless. And the 30MM guns that have been installed are another problem completely. They are going to stay installed, but unusable for the time being. Did we really get what we paid for?

4. Bandwidth.
All the programs on the ship that are supposed to take a burden off the crew rely on a lot of bandwidth to stay connected with the LCSRON, keep NIAPS synced up, etc. They started us out with EHF and INMARSAT, but they tied together these systems with a unique comms suite that created constant problems. When it became obvious that the bandwidth just wasn't going to cut it, they decided to give the ship the commercial broadband antennae. They came out to the ship, and the crew gave them a suggestion of where to place the dish in order to maximize the cut-out zones, but even though their surveys agreed with the crew, they pulled off the EHF dishes x2, and replaced 1 of them with the new system. This gives that antennae a huge cut out zone, and has resulted in spotty bandwidth with only INMARSAT as a back up. When you design a ship around distance support - how are you going to be so blind as to limit it's bandwidth, basically crippling most programs across the board?

5. The attitudes of the people in charge of the program.
How many times have blind optimism and this idea that 'all change is good' created an unsafe standard in this program? The LCS program keeps pressing the different organizations to change their standards in regard to LCS due to the small crew and 'new-design' of the ship. Sometimes these standards feel like they are being changed just for change sake. [REDACTED], and to be honest I hope the ship never comes in harms way - because the only real systems that it has to defend itself are the CSW mounts. At least I know the GMs on board are good shots.

There - a little Fleet Input for 'ya.

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