Monday, February 08, 2021

We Need a Clean Break from LCS to FFG-62

I wish I made the observation first, but last week I noted another's spot on commentary on LCS that was simply damning in its simplicity; LCS-1 will be decommissioned before any of the mission modules it were to carry are FMC.

All that being said, LCS will be with us for awhile, and good people in hard jobs are doing their best to squeeze some utility out of them. 

That is great ... but we have so little actual experience with LCS besides a few bespoke deployments that we need to be very careful thinking we can transfer "lessons" to new classes, like FFG-62, that will be used in very different ways ... like useful ways ... but I digress.

That won't stop some people, it seems;

 “When we started building frigate, we looked at lot at LCS and what we can learn – for example, the way we train on LCS, train to qualify, is a really good model and we’re going to leverage that for FFG-62,” Kitchener said during the media call ahead of this week’s Surface Navy Association annual symposiums.

I'm open to that, I guess. If it were so great - and I don't know if it is - why aren't we doing this with already existing classes of warships? Are we?

“And then the manning, we just looked at what we’ve done on LCS, the blue/gold concept, and how we’re going to fit them out. And we think that is probably the way to get the most presence” out of the frigate hulls.

Bullshit. Blue/Gold only works in the submarine world. If you want to copy their program, then great. All experience we have with Blue/Gold in surface ships doing surface ship business - and LCS has never done that - has always been, what is the world, "suboptimal."

It appears that this may be soaking in. Perhaps we are mature enough as an organization to admit that we can say, "No, this was a mistake." Close ... so close ... but perhaps we are allowing some to save face. We'll see.

“The ink’s not dry yet – we’re looking at, as the SWO Boss said, there’s some lessons learned from blue/gold crewing, I think there’s some ability to potentially deploy the ships for longer with a rotational crew model, and we are still learning about how to do that and what that right rotation is. So it’s a little bit pre-decisional still with Connie,” he said.

Let's pour bleach on that ink before it is dry and toss what remains in the shredder. 

“The crew on a frigate will be larger, so there’s kind of inherently more capability in that crew. It’s not a minimally manned platform as the LCS was. … That means that the frigate, the Connie-class crew size, will support being able to do more multi-mission sorts of things, whereas the LCS is more single-mission, one mission at a time platform,” he said.

“And there’s some more ability for the crew to do its own maintenance; planned maintenance will be done much more so by the ship’s force crew on a frigate, on the Connie class, than on the LCS.”

So close, so close to sounding like a customer of the military industrial complex as opposed to a PR spokesman ... so close. 

That being said, nice that Big Navy is starting to accept the critique from the Front Porch about LCS here well over a decade and a half old. I like how we are finally calling LCS's manning CONOPS not "optimally manned" but "minimally manned." Also admitting that - shocking I know - a ship needs the ability to do some of its own repairs ... and hey, multi-mission is a thing again. Good. Potential enemies were being a bit persnickity about signaling what the PMA of the Quarter was going to be in time for us to get the non-existent mission modules installed. 

Maybe soon we can say, "Little to nothing from LCS can be adopted by FFG-62. We learned a lot from LCS and will continue to, but the manning and deployment CONOPS for FFG-62 will be better aligned to a multi-mission frigate as we understand it in our and allied navies."

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