Tuesday, January 19, 2010

An unfortunate choice of words

Never before has such a ship caused so many smart people to say the most silly things.

From The Barbary Wars, to the Chesapeake Flotilla to the original reason the LCS went from concept to construction - think of what you need to fight in the "Littoral" where you will face the RPG-7 and the 23mm on the back of the truck, to the ASCM fired from someone's front yard, think about what is needed in a warship built for combat in the littorals. What word comes to mind? Is "elegant" even in the top 50?

Aerospace Daily & Defense Report, 01/15;
UNDERSECRETARY SAYS LCS IS CENTERPIECE OF FLEXIBLE NAVY: The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is an elegant small battle network combatant, according to Robert Work, undersecretary of the U.S. Navy, who said he is convinced the ship will also lead the way technologically in international navies. “If you think of the surface fleet today, think of it as a series of boxes,” said Work, a former analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment (CSBA) and former Marine.
Ummmmmm ..... no. I will not. Boxes are for accountants and logisticians.
The Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) and LCS are small boxes with modular payload bays, he said. “You can put whatever you need on them.”
Sure you can, in very small quantities for a very small set of missions. And it all depends on what you define as "whatever you need."

If you find yourself, like the Canadians did in AFG, in desperate need of heavy armor (that their defense bureaucracy stated earlier were no longer needed in the "modern, transformational military") - then no; you cannot get "whatever you need." LCS and JHSV both have their uses - but they cannot and should not do all. When you start to sell a platform like a snake-oil cures-all, it might be time to back away a bit.
Larger vessels in the fleet also boast a similar level of flexibility, Work said. “The Navy has committed itself to a battle networking philosophy that’s immensely adaptable. Everyone will follow the U.S. Navy.”
Bob, bars have committed themselves to serving alcohol - it is all true. I'm not sure where you are going here as this has been true for a couple of centuries - in a fashion - and who is "everyone" and what does it have to do with the subject at hand? If we are already flexible - then why is the flexibility of LCS and JHSV "leading the way" - or are they just another tool to expand in the smaller tonnage range an established flexibility concept? Sure, not as sexy - but sure seems more accurate.
He dismissed the idea that irregular and hybrid warfare require a change in the fleet. “You can put any type of module you need on our ships,” he said. “They are immensely flexible.”
The last four words I can agree with - as it has always been true in our Navy.
The LCS in particular, he noted, has the capability to host a multitude of module types. “We can put what we want on the LCS,” Work said. But he does not see the need to spend money on every option right now. “We need to test it [first]. We need to understand what it can bring to the battle network.”
Ummmmm, no we can't - we can't put any module we want or need on our LCS Fleet that we plan on building. We are not buying enough Mission Modules to have a truly flexible LCS Fleet as it was sold .... and wait - what was that quote again?
“We need to test it [first]. We need to understand what it can bring to the battle network.”
That is true - but how does that match with this again?
The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is an elegant small battle network combatant, ...
Might be. The PPT vignette says if could be. We hope it is. A few $billion more and we should be. I think it is. We paid enough - it better be.


Tough job Bob - I wish you luck in making it happen.

But - let's parse the phrase that kept bounc'n around my nogg'n a bit.
... elegant small battle network combatant...
Where have I heard that before? Ah, ha! Here it is!
Optimized for those fully networked COE applications, FCS BC will operate both horizontally and vertically across the unit of action. The BC service-based architecture will be structured to execute a myriad of threads, with each stringing together small services from the BC tactical mission space containers. These small, elegant, highly optimized and very focused services will do the multitudes of tactical tasks that the UA will have to execute in performing its missions.
A small bit from the Bu11sh1t Bingo parade that was the Army's Future Combat System back in 2005. How did that work out for them?
The acquisition decision memorandum (ADM) released today cancels the Future Combat Systems Brigade Combat Team (FCS BCT) program and in its place directs the Army to transition to a modernization plan consisting of a number of separate but integrated acquisition programs to meet the secretary’s objectives. Those integrated programs include one to spin out the initial increment of the FCS program to seven infantry brigades in the near term and additional programs for information and communications networks, unmanned ground and air vehicles and sensors, and an integration effort aimed at follow-on spinouts to all Army brigades. The ADM also terminates the manned ground vehicle portion of the previous FCS program and directs an assessment with the Marine Corps of joint capability gaps for ground combat vehicles. The assessment will inform new requirements for Army ground combat vehicle modernization, leading to the launch of a new acquisition program in 2010.
Good luck with LCS and all that in NE Asian waters in FEB - much less in the coming storm that will be the Navy shipbuilding budget.


sid said...

Because I got a little nerrrrvis on the phone during midrats, forgot to ask CDR McGrath about his comments on InfoDis re Bob Work...how the Undersecretary was waxing rhapsodic about the LCS at the SNA.

Last year, I had a little joust with Sec. Work (before he was official and I didn't realize it until after the fact..So gotta give him credit for that) in the comments section here. He is apparently still sold on what the LCS brings to the table.

I argued then, that no matter the fleet architecture, it must still be built with the premise of "Staying Power".

Still stickin' to it, given what happened in the South China Sea shortly thereafter.

Arguably, Staying Power is more important now for the USN than at any time since 1942 -because in the intervening most of a century- it has enjoyed either a dominanace through numbers, or has been engaged in a static strategic struggle where it always enjoyed a qualitative advantage.

Those days are done.

Especially given that "elegant small network" ships can be mission killed by a smelly guy brandishing a boathook.

Oh, and its just a matter of time before one of those spiffy "Stay Out of Harm's Way" robot boats gets pirated...

You heard it here first.

AW1 Tim said...

  I just watched the video and I am angry beyond words. What a WASTE od time, manpower and treasure to develop aRube-Goldburg mousetrap. THAT is the ASW "module"? An unmanned boat with little-to-no freeboard, and more moving parts than an erector set on steroids?

  I am dismayed. Here they put a gazzilion dollars into a system with multiple moving parts, and with no one aboard to fix it when it jams. Any BMSN could tell you that a cable will jam at the most inoprtune time. A line spends it's entire life coiled up like a rattlesnake and waiting to grab someone's leg and take them swimming.

What's gonna happen when all this fancy equipment has a casulty? The LCS crew will have to send a small boat over to it to try and retrieve it and bring it back. If that dipping sonar or tass or andything else is deployed, then they'll have to drag it all back to the ship, winch it all aboard and deal with it then.

 Hows about just installing a TASS system alongside the hull and deploy it from aboard? How's about using that big honking flight deck to carry a helo or two with dipping sonar?

I was disgusted with LCS before, but how I am fully convinced that a large group of folks ought to be strung up. I'm serious, and not being allegorical. They ought to swing for this, and from the nearest yardarm as a warning to others.

Snowe and Collins maybe RINOS, but they are big into defense. I'll be composing a letter to them over the next couple days in the hopes that they can ask some tough questions and maybe get this whole thing shut down.

  You want ASW in the littorals? Build a conventional sub. I honestly believe it would be cheaper than LCS and do most everything that folks want LCS to do. It would actually BE stealthy to, as opposed to the faux stealth the Navy is playing with.

MR T's Haircut said...

When I think of what I want to engage the Chinese in the not so distant future... an expendable, mass produced, capable and cheap boat.  period.

Byron Audler said...

Right now, here where we stand with open wallets ready to pony up for one line of crap or another, the question still stands: Other than a fast boat with not enough people to sail and fight with a reasonable chance of getting home again, just what the HELL did that near-on to $700,000,000.00 BUY?

What the hell did that over-sized bathtub toy with the fancy name cost? How many AT-SEA trials rather than a glass smooth lake have been accomplished?

Navig8r said...

I always bristle when I hear JHSV in the same sentance as a warship (even LCS, FWIW).  JHSV is a commencial cargo ship with the same mission and capabilities as a pickup truck.  The requirements say in multiple places and big bold print, "will operate in a permissive, non-combat environment, only."

Repeat after me, "It's a truck, it's a truck, it's a truck."

True, you can put almost anything in there, but you can't use it.  You can only move it.

sid said...

MTH, that works when you have the numbers to lose.

But the USN no longer has that luxury.

Thats not to say that every plan and idea must be built around the premise of never taking a casualty...There is already too much of the sentiment that the navy need not worry about going into Harm's Way. And thats alot of the problem under silly crap like the 50 kt LCS (its fast to "Avoid the Hit").

 However, we no longer enjoy the resources against a China whereby an Admiral can echo Nimitz's, "we have more ships and planes than the enemy has bullets," way of doing business.

Instead of looking through the lens of Okinawa in 1945, the USN should look hard at the Japanese experience in '42, and the German experience in 40/41. For them, every loss meant an irreplaceable operational goal. And as they found out, do that quickly and enough times, you got nuthin in short order.

Thats why I harp on the Survivability angle so much. If the force can't do it with numbers (and there is not a snowball's chance in hell ANYTHING will get bought in sufficient numbers nor enough people recruited for a decade or better) , it must keep enough elements fighting long enough to win.

Gone are the days the USN can absorb many scenes like this one...

Byron Audler said...

Are the sailors "expendable" as well? Which takes longer to replace? A skilled GM, ET, GMM, STG, BM, etc., or the "expendable" ship?

sid said...

Anymore, its the human capital that is the toughest to maintain...Hence the robots and 20 man crews on 3000 ton ships.

And, in order to run a viable navy, it must be expected some will be lost.

Its just that now it must be a carefully considered set of risk management that guides requirements. Gone -or should be anyway- are the days of throwing some sandbags on a boat in front of a machine gun and sending tinto battle.

Or expecting some magical "transformational" wunderweapon to win battles.

In this century, the USN will have to get the requirements hammered down across the warfare spectrum in a smart, rational matter...Unlike how its getting done today.

G-man said...

Aw c'mon.  Hit Dod Buzz and watch the nifty vid of LCS 2 knifing through sea state 0 whilst we are bombarded with terms like "stability", "speed", "formidable", etc.  Why, even the pop gun up front moves a bit.  Breath-taking and awe-inspiring.  We need to give them to North korea and they could write the press release - something like: "the vanquished foes of the US Navy were met by unrepentant fury as the victorious and vicious foes of socialism waged a staunch struggle in the glorious cause of Diversity's independence, the just cause of all masses". You get the idea.

Then the world would truly tremble, tremble, tremble at its elegance.

MR T's Haircut said...


fair question, to answer it in my opinion, anyone signing on the dotted line is expendable, we just ask NOT TO BE WASTED.  A distinction.  By being expendable does not mean destroyed, it means we are prepared to use the human capital on our ships to achieve our mission. 

My point is that we CAN build in numbers that allow effeciency.  MacArthur escaped Corrigidor on a wooden plywood boat skippered by Bulkely.  Why can't we duplicate this?  Why does every ship require a PMO and 10 year develop plan? 

A WW2 era PT boat as modernized and TOW or Hellfire surface missile equipped with a small crew could swarm the chinese and create the balance we need for a small cost.

MR T's Haircut said...

Byron at our ship building pace it is the ship....

Therapist1 said...

When ever I see this B.S Bingo I always think about the commercials embedded in movies like Starship Troopers.  It can slice, it can dice it can kill bugs on Klandathu!!  Etc...Etc...Etc...

Byron Audler said...

And the cheap boat and expensive, hard to replace sailors will probably not come back. To repeat: The cost of the ship is not nearly as important as the human capital aboard them. You CANNOT replace their experience quickly. Part of our victory in WW 2 in the Pacific was because we were able to get our aviators back from battle, both from better built aircraft and dedicated SAR, and used those aviators to teach the young'ns. No aviator back, no lessons learned. Just that simple.

I have no fault with your explanation of "expendable". I "get" it. What I don't like to see is attitudes that will needlessly imperil those sailors. Enough will die as it is...

Especially that stupid argument that the LCS will "stay afloat long enough for the crew to be rescued"...like 20 miles off the coast of the PRC? STUPID!!!!

leesea said...

I watched that video and thought of 3 things:
Star Wars, the old Mineseeping Boat used on Vietnam's rivers, AND who it world belives those boats will EVER hold up to real world handling in any kind of sea state?!!

leesea said...

Navig8tor, news flash the LCS and JHSV BOTH cited ABS High Speed Naval Craft Code for construction standards.  The LCS added on NVR after the design was started.   When comparing payload vs performance I would like to quote an knowledgeable SMV engineer:
"The JHSV would make a better LCS than the LCS a JHSV.   The Catamaran has a better Payload fraction and better Speed to weight ratio than the Trimaran.  The same as the Tri is better than the monohull"He is not talking combat capabilites but what hulls can actually do.

MR T's Haircut said...

Byron, without the numbers, we will be at the mercy of the chinese.  That will cost more lives.  The Imperial Japanese were as defeated by thier lack of shipbuilding and raw materials as their loss of aviators. 

I am not saying imperil our Sailors, and I am not cavalier about the cost of human life or the cost to train and "grow" a Sailor. 

I also know the numbers we have imperil our ability to respond to a conventional threat and will make our reliance on nuclear weapons even more dangerous.

What happens when our conventional options fail and China has us by the nuts over Taiwan? 

Don't discount the Cheap Ship and small crew strategy.  It is cheap, can be effective and I am sure we cna find brave crews for them.

won't happen though, no money in it for the big contractors....

MR T's Haircut said...

Byron, without the numbers, we will be at the mercy of the chinese.  That will cost more lives.  The Imperial Japanese were as defeated by thier lack of shipbuilding and raw materials as their loss of aviators. 

I am not saying imperil our Sailors, and I am not cavalier about the cost of human life or the cost to train and "grow" a Sailor. 

I also know the numbers we have imperil our ability to respond to a conventional threat and will make our reliance on nuclear weapons even more dangerous.

What happens when our conventional options fail and China has us by the nuts over Taiwan? 

Don't discount the Cheap Ship and small crew strategy.  It is cheap, can be effective and I am sure we cna find brave crews for them.

won't happen though, no money in it for the big contractors....

Bubba Bob said...

Holy Harness Batman, I can do ASW with my Boston Whaler!

If you spring for the 17 footer we can do AAW also. 

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

The USN has always been extraordinarily flexable. Look at the DEs of WWII just as an example. The same type of ship could, with the weapon systems installed at the shipyard, hunt E Boats with the RN in the channel, go on an RO Boat killing spree in the South Pacific, sinking 6 in 12 days, and then take on the Battle Line of the IJN off Samar.  We need ships capable of doing the jobs of taking on what shows up, not a empty boc that "modules" can be plugged into.  

DEs could survive non catastrophic damage, because they had large enough crews, trained in Damage Control, that they could save themselves, and still fight the ship.  Byron points out that the PRNK won't just let the damaged LCS just sit there, until the grew can be rescued.   

Byron Audler said...

MTH, let me get this right...China, the most populous nation on the earth, will feel threatened by, are you ready for it? Naval human wave tactics?


MR T's Haircut said...

I am not arguing in favor of this piece of shit LCS.  I am saying we are NOT going to build 5-18K ton ship classes with out 20 years of lead time.  We dont have the budget when we spend on bullshit programs.  TO get this Unfuckered we need a strategy to deal with China NOW.  200 ton and under vessels with small crews and high speed and heavily armed for a small budget, organized in flotillas like the PTRONS of WW2 can fill the immediate bill. 
We need something and guess what.. the Chinese Grow.. and they plan to use the Naval Human Wave precisely as you mock it. 
Just saying</span>

MR T's Haircut said...

And how would the Chinese react to US and our swarm tactics?  They can't kill an ant with an Axe, and we present the same problem to the Chinese as they try to emulate us and grow into a blue water fleet, at the precise time we go asymetrical on thier ass...

Simulationist said...

That's what I was thinking,  Just run up on that thing, shoot the engine and she's yours with all the kit.  Granted at night you would have to fairly sophisticated to pull that off, but daytime POC.  I wonder if the analogy of UAS's applies to these USVs, The advantage of a UAS is that the ones you really care about losing can avoid an technologically unsophisticated opfor.  The ones that can't avoid are either very hard to hit will small arms or essentially expendable.  Big UASs give you persistence, little ones rapid response.  Where does a Boston Whaler sized USV fit?  In fairness, USVs are where UASs were 20+ years ago doctrinally,

MR T's Haircut said...

Bubba I have a 17 Foot Whaler.. can I be the Echo Whiskey?

ArkadyRenko said...

I understand the ideas behind this system.

Complement helicopters with Unmaned sensors. The sensors work away from the ship, allowing the LCS to triangulate submarine contacts easier. Think of this as an upgraded sonar buoy, with more functions and better sensors. Instead of one tail per warship, you get two tails.

This works better too, because there is now way you want to put a ship anywhere near a heavyweight torpedo. Heck, one Mk48 would probably gut a full on destroyer, not to mention the LCS.

However, the sensor ships look like jokes. The sensor deployment seems to slow, and they need to be designed to work in the middle of the Pacific, not in the Cheseapeake or something. They won't be useful in littoral watesr, because those ships are too vulnerable to really anything, so they need to be held in the more open ocean. But, if they're so small, do you think they'll be useful in a storm? 

The principle is sound, the execution is lacking.

As to Mr T's Haircut, I think that Bryon Audler said it best: Swarm tactics against the most populus nation on the earth, not exactly the brightest idea.

You fleet of distributed small warships will be slaughtered by airial attack, and what can they achieve? They need vulnerable supply lines, the more ships, the greater the supply demand. Unless you want they all to be nuclear powered, they really are going to be a liability not an asset.

MR T's Haircut said...

You give too much credit to the chinese being able to find a raft with a missile launcher in the ocean much less at 25,000 feet in an F-8 when they DONT have air superiority.  as for ressupply, I suggest you read your history books on small boat and PT operations in the pacific theater in WW2.

sid said...

Perhaps they WOULD leave one damaged, knowing that a US commander would quickly divert his remaining assets into a defensive "Blackhawk Down" posture, instead of continuing the attack against them...

MTH, I do agree that we need numbers. Its just that we cqn no longer rely on numbers alone as we could in the good ole days.

And yeah, its just stupid how long it takes a ship (and aircraft and tank and missile and,,,) to be delivered these days....

ArkadyRenko said...

How will the Chinese not have air superiority within 500 nm of their coast?

On one had, you're cutting the carrier groups, by focusing on small boats. But, on the other hand, you need them to keep Chinese aircraft away from the small boats?

Yes, you can run resupply to small units. But, can you run resupply in an era of Ocean reconaissance satellites and UAVs? When aircraft can carrier radars capable of surveying thousands of square miles of oceans?

This is the problem, for your small ships to do anything, they will need to be near Chinese waters. But, those same waters are confined and within easy range of dozens of Chinese airbases. Those ships, operating on the surface, will be sitting ducks, waiting for the moment when they are found, then ruthelessly hunted down and killed.

The answer is clear, don't invest in small boats, if you want to fight near Chinese shores, invest in a powerful sub fleet. You should look at the effectiveness of US subs against the Japanese merchant marine. See what the subs did compared to the PT boats.

Anthony Mirvish said...

If we had to fight China, the area within say 500 nm of the coast would be pretty much a no-go zone for surface ships, at least until air superiority could be established.  Hence, the suggestion by Hughes that subs were the most useful element in dealing with this situation.  We're not going to invade China; subs (and sea-based air where it can operate) can shut down China's commerce especially those ships supplying the energy and raw materials they require.  The small combatant (whatever shape that ultimately takes) would be used elsewhere.

Also, if we had to fight China, I'd imagine that both our and their surveillance systems would be furiously attacked directly through things like ASATs and indirectly through cyber-war.  It is not a forgone conclusion that surveillance will be anything like total and continuous.  This still wouldn't be enough to allow our surface ships to operate close to shore, but it should be kept in mind.

Regarding the expendability issue, the WWII sub fleet took something like 30% losses in the process of destroying Japan's merchant fleet and a good chunk of the IJN...and that was against a navy with inferior ASW skills.  Low morale and a sense of despair were not attributes anyone associated with the men in those subs.  The early war sub skippers, who thought too much about preserving the life of their crews and bringing their boats home were largely combat ineffective.  

Grandpa Bluewater said...

I am curious about the enthusiastic Mr Work.  How much sea time on what size ships has his life's experience provided him? He seems very positive about something that seems very foolish to me, at least in it's current incarnation.

MR T's Haircut said...

Byron you assume I would use these ships as a deterrence... I would not.  They would however cause a "Sticky Wicket" for the Chinese at a fraction of the cost and could operate as sea denial until the Carriers show up to kick the door in.

sid said...

As I am labled an Old Fart that "Just Doesn't Get It," I'll use and old school term...

Hot Off The Presses!

But its the same sad story....

WASHINGTON, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Early testing by the U.S. Navy showed that Lockheed Martin Corp's first Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) did not meet Navy stability requirements and revealed problems with its combat system, according to a new annual report by the Pentagon's chief weapons tester.
Neither the Lockheed ship, a steel monohull design, nor a competing aluminum-hulled trimaran design built by General Dynamics Corp, was expected to "be survivable in a hostile combat environment," said the report prepared by the Pentagon's director of Operational Test and Evaluation.

And for Ken Adams...

Dude you owe me a beer (or two)

Remembeer the conveersation here?
sid Says:

It will be interesting to see if the Littoral COMBAT Ships, as it is officially placed in the “Combatant” category by the USN will undergo shock testing…

and you said:
Ken Adams, Amphib Sailor Says:

sid, I’ll betcha a beer or three that shock trials will happen before the 5th ship deploys.

Well from the above Reuters report:

The report said the Navy intended LCS to be a Level I survivability combatant ship, but neither design was expected to achieve the degree of shock hardening required to meet those specifications.
Shock hardening, the ability to keep operating following an underwater explosive attack, is required for all mission-critical systems under the Navy's Level I requirements, but only a few selected subsystems will meet those, it said.
"Accordingly, the full traditional rigor of Navy-mandated ship shock trials is not achievable, due to the damage that would be sustained by the ship and its many non-shock hardened systems," said the report, which was submitted to Congress this week.

No worries though Ken...

I go for the cheap stuff .... ;)

Westpac Warrior said...

Dude.  This is the future of our fleet?  A flight III FF(un-G) is looking like the freakin' Graf Spee right about now.

Byron Audler said...

If the Navy had gone ahead and put a RAM on the Mk 13 mount it would have still been able to keep the "G". And the RAN stuck an 8 cell VLS between the bos'n locker and the Mk. 13. Keep a decent maintainence budget, they'll last another 15 years.

MR T's Haircut said...

Gee who knew? 

Kinda lock the reports that the HMS Hood had a fatal flaw in her design also....