Wednesday, November 19, 2014

LCS: the Audacity of Hype

Time for another Salamander pro-tip: Shipmate, don't feed your reputation to Vaal! A commissioned officer does not have the duty to sound like a spokesman for the defense industry. You're a customer, not a stockholder. 

Your duty is to your ship, shipmate, self - not program, multinational corporation, talking points. 

It is not your job to say things that don't survive first contact with the follow-on question; it corrodes your integrity and to be frank - it makes the other kids laugh behind your back.

Once again we have a Grubertastic LCS article out, throwing more tropish strawmen against the wall to ... well ... heck ... I'm out of FODish metaphors to mix. Let's just dive in, shall we?

Jennifer Hlad over at S&S gets us started;
The USS Fort Worth is slated to depart Monday for Asia, where it will operate largely out of Singapore for 16 months, the longest deployment of a U.S. Navy ship in more than 42 years.
Good googly moogly; we can't even make it out of the opening paragraph.

This claim is not only ahistorical, it is a slap in the face to everyone who has actually made real long deployments - most recently BATAAN and SHOUP.

Let us be very clear about how we define a deployment. A deployment is a crew and a ship. Together. Away from homeport, and returning. Not including usual personnel turnover, the overwhelming majority of the crew leaves with the ship, stays with the ship, and then returns home.

By the definition they are using here, every Forward Deployed Naval Forces ship has been on deployment - some for years.

You are not deploying for 16-months if you are doing this;
...the crew of 54, plus the 24-person aviation squadron, will swap out early next year, and that group will be replaced again late in 2015, said Cmdr. Ken Bridgewater, the ship’s commander. The crew will switch out a third time before it returns to San Diego. After 16 months, the Fort Worth will be replaced by the USS Freedom.
Use that STEM education, Shipmate. 16-months divided by three crews comes to; three 5.3 month deployments. That is ship-swap, not deployment.

At least Jennifer, very gently, points this out.
Navy officials told Reuters news service that this would be the longest deployment of a U.S. Navy ship since the carrier Midway was under way for 327 days in 1973. The Midway used one crew.
Who is this "Navy official" and how do we send them TAD to the NHHC for some self-guided education after we give him a wedgie and open a bar tab with is Visa as he unwads his panties?

Oh, wait ... hug your YN ...
Capt. Randy Garner, commodore of LCS Squadron 1, said the ship offers extensive automation, which means it can do more with fewer people. Crews operate without any administrative tasks, so those costs have been transferred to supporting shore commands.
OK; so, we have a waiver from Millington for no FITREPs, EVALs, awards, travel paperwork, responding to ADMIN messages, and various sundry other reports while deployed? Really? I'd really like to see what is and is not considered "administrative tasks."

Here is where we are all just going to get sad.
One of the advantages of the ship’s design is that the crew can switch out modules quickly, said Cmdr. Mark Haney, the ship’s executive officer.

“As long as you can put it in a conex box, you can put it on an LCS,” he said, standing just a stone’s throw from boxes with overflow berthing inside.
Oh no, XO. Sigh. Let's hoe this row again, it seems to have gotten weedy.

There are no modules to swap out. You are deployed with an impotent PMC Surface Warfare module. MIW, ASW, etc modules are either many moons away from being deployable, or are PPT thick. There is no proven infrastructure in place to swap out the modules, and if - again all this is theory as there are no operational modules out there ready to go. Unless you define quickly as a week+ offstation for swap out - then that is simply an aspirational statement, not a reflection of reality.

This capability is what we are trying to figure out - but we are not in a position to make that PPT in to flesh. The fact we are five years after LCS-1 was commissioned and we are still at this stage tells us all we really need to know about this ship and the program in general. Remember, we fought and won WWII against Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and the Empire of Japan in less time.

Oh, more beers on my tab, please.
The Navy planned the LCS to have a core crew of 40 sailors and mission and module crews of 15 to 20 sailors, according to a July Government Accountability Office report on the USS Freedom’s 2013 deployment to Singapore. It later increased that number after finding sailors were overworked and not getting enough sleep.
You read that here almost a decade ago, and by others who published papers earlier than that saying the same thing.
The Navy expects to have an LCS manpower study done next year, although the GAO report sees potential flaws in the findings.

“Manpower studies do not account for the issue of core crews relying on mission module crew and contractor ship riders to assist with their core crew functions,” according to the report.
I don't know. What more can we say?
"It’s all about giving flexibility to the forward commander, based on how much money we have," Garner told Reuters at his office after a tour of the ship, which is due to leave on Monday for Singapore and the Pacific region.

"It’s an amazing return on the shipbuilding dollar for us, versus what we’ve done in the past," he said.
Laugh, cry, or scream? Votes anyone?

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