Pentagon Quietly Pulling the Plug on the Littoral Combat Ship


January, 2014

The decade-long fight to produce an LCS fleet unofficially ended early in January.

According to The Navy Times (27 January 2014), the Office of the Secretary of Defense announced that the once-planned fleet of 56 ships would officially be cut to 32, although just four have been built and another 20 ordered. This number is likely to be cut again. So far, each ship is costing 40% more than what was budgeted.

Envisioned to be “a networked, agile, stealthy surface combatant capable of defeating anti-access and asymmetric threats in the littorals," the LCS has been a near total failure since it entered the fleet ( It is about 75% of the size and weight of the Perry-class frigates which are being retired from service, and lightly armored. The GAO has faulted the class for extremely long crew training time, unrealistic maintenance plans, and the lack of comprehensive risk assessment. The three now in service have repeatedly failed to meet even the minimum requirements. The hulls crack. They have had to be towed after multiple engine failures. They cannot stand up to open sea environments. They are basically defenseless and their offensive modules do not work, nor can the modules be loaded in less than several weeks. The fanciful design crew compliment of 40 is woefully inadequate, and despite the Navy’s boosting crew size by 25%, the crews become so tired after several weeks of 18-hour shifts, that battle capability is degraded significantly. At least one flag officer reportedly referred to the LCS as “little crappy ship.”

The failure of the concept and production of the LCS is just one more problem the US Navy does not need as it faces an ever more belligerent China.

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