– By Rear Adm. Thomas Rowden, Director Surface Warfare
There has been a lot of discussion on the littoral combat ship and how the LCS will shape the surface Navy.
This debate is both natural and healthy. All parties have a vested interest in ensuring that taxpayer dollars are being spent appropriately on a quality platform and that our Navy continues to remain not just relevant, but a leader in today’s global maritime environment.
I believe that both objectives are being met with the LCS.
The Navy is committed to the LCS program and we are confident that we are on a path to success.
LCS provides unique capability; it is designed to win against 21stcentury threats in coastal waters where increasingly capable submarines, mines, and swarming small craft operate. Currently, we depend on frigates, patrol combatants, and mine countermeasure ships to counter these threats. These classes of ships are nearing the end of their service lives. In LCS, the capabilities of three ship classes are provided by a single class, thanks to an interchangeable modular design that allows the ship to be reconfigured to meet mission requirements.
The Navy routinely expects issues to arise with first-of-class shipbuilding programs. Every Navy ship is designed with a test and trials period specifically to ensure everything is working correctly, and repairs can be made, if required. This also allows us to incorporate lessons learned into the follow-on ships before they’re delivered.
LCS 1 and 2 are R&D ships. The continued testing and operation of the first-of-class ships will also provide us valuable real world data to inform refinement of our distance support, maintenance, manning, and operational concepts.
Proof that we’re learning…
LCS 3 successfully completed INSURV Acceptance Trials last Friday, with 85% fewer discrepancies identified compared to LCS 1. We’ve learned a great deal about these ships in the process, and we will only continue to learn more as we bring additional LCS ships to the fleet.
The Navy is conducting developmental tests on components of the LCS mine countermeasures mission package. All components of the package are scheduled for full operational evaluation in fiscal year 2014.
The LCS program is vital to the U.S. Navy and our allies and partners. From concept design to delivery, LCS took significantly less time than the traditional surface combatant ship (CG 47/DDG 51) timeline of 12-15 years. In a relatively short period, we have designed a revolutionary new ship class, commissioned two ships, and will soon deliver the third LCS with nine more LCSs in various phases of construction or pre-construction.
There has been a lot of debate about the future of LCS and how it will impact the way in which the surface Navy operates. This is a new class of ship with unique capabilities. I look forward to continuing the discussion with you.
This article originally appeared on Navy Live, THE OFFICIAL BLOG OF THE UNITED STATES NAVY