LCS 1 Conducted Operational Missions in South China Sea

REFILE - CORRECTING SPELLING OF LOCATION WHERE PICTURE WAS TAKENThe future USS Freedom (LCS 1), the first ship in the U.S. Navy's new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) class, undergoes builder's trials on Lake Michigan near Marinette, Wisconsin in this picture taken July 28, 2008. LCS is a focused-mission ship designed to defeat threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft. The 378-foot future USS Freedom is being designed and built by a Lockheed Martin-led industry team. Picture taken July 28.   REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Lockheed-Martin/Handout   (UNITED STATES).  FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.The Navy’s USS Freedom conducted several operational patrol missions in the South China Sea while on a 32,000-mile, 10-month long maiden deployment through the Pacific region, service officials said.

As a first-in-class vessel, the USS Freedom or Littoral Combat Ship 1 is a research and development ship engineered to pave the way forward for what the Navy plans will be many high-speed, shallow water multi-mission vessels that will eventually comprise a large percentage of the Navy’s fleet.

The ship just completed its first deployment from San Diego to Guam, Singapore, the South China Sea and the Philippines – where it assisted with disaster relief missions.

During its deployment in the South China Sea, the USS Freedom conducted a handful of operational patrols for the Navy’s Commander of the 7th fleet, Vice Adm. Tom Copeman, Commander, Naval Surface Forces, told reporters Jan. 6.

The missions included surface surveillance with radar and shipboard sensors and sending helicopters up to help create a maritime picture within the area, he added.  The rationale for these missions was to help provide commanders with a common operational picture of the area, Copeman explained.

The Navy hopes to build as many as 52 LCS ships, multi-mission littoral vessels configured with various “mission-package” technologies for countermine warfare, anti-submarine mission and surface warfare. LCS 1 is configured with the surface warfare mission package, a configuration of integrated technologies such as sensors, weapons and defensive systems designed to detect and destroy surface threats.

“The shallow draft of the ship allowed it to get into areas that other ships can’t get into, such as areas of the South China Sea, ports that were not available for a cruiser or a DDG (destroyer) which draws 32-feet of water. These ships are drawing less than half of that,” Copeman added.

While operational assignments are typical of ships on deployment, it is unique or unusual for a first-in-class research and development ship like LCS 1 to be given operational assignments, Navy officials said. Navy leaders said LCS 1’s deployment helped the Navy demonstrate the operational flexibility sought after for the LCS ship class, a group of ships that have been criticized by analysts and lawmakers for, among other things, being unable to complete its intended mission.

 

“It was envisioned many years ago and I think the Navy has made the right call to build these high-speed, low-cost, shallow-draft multi-mission ships,” Copeman said.

LCS 1 also experienced a handful of reliability and maintenance challenges during its deployment which led the Navy to implement a series of fixes and maintenance repairs.

In particular, the USS Freedom experienced problems with its ship service diesel generators, or SSDGs, which resulted in a temporary power outage during a trip to Guam, this past summer.  The Freedom also experienced problems with a corroded cable and faulty air compressor.

During its deployment, the USS Freedom experienced a corroding, or failing, of a cable on the ship, affecting the steerable jets.  The cable was fixed in Singapore within the last several months, a source said.

Unlike other ships, the LCS has a unique propulsion system, designed with four high-tech water jets able to control the angle, speed and direction of the ship, Navy officials said.  There are no propellers or rudders on the LCS—just steerable water jets, giving the platform an ability to reach speeds greater than 40 knots.

 

Navy engineers and program managers are optimistic that a series of adjustments or “fixes” will benefit the overall LCS fleet by improving reliability and sustainability.  For example, Navy engineers modified the configuration of the diesel generators planned for LCS 5 and follow-on ships, so as to decrease the likelihood of generator problems persisting on future models.

“Between LCS 1, which is a research and development ship, and LCS 5 there has been a redesign of the ship’s service diesel generators and there’s been a redesign of the main reduction gear core,” Copeman said.

Also, LCS 3 and follow-on ship have new air compressors, Copeman added.

The LCS fleet also relies on a technique known as condition-based maintenance, a method of using sensors to monitor and compile data about the health and functionality of the systems on the ship.  The advantages to this method are numerous, as it allows engineers to identify potential problems early in the process.

The earlier problems are discovered, the easier it is to maintain a high degree of functionality onboard and keep repair costs low, Navy officials said. Condition-based maintenance approaches are designed to recognize key trends for engineers and sustainment experts to analyze.

The Navy also works at prepositioning parts and specific maintenance kits for key systems and equipment onboard the ship called preventive maintenance systems. This method is designed to maintain small and large equipment on the ship and ensure that they keep functioning properly.

The LCS platform has been the subject of criticism and controversy from lawmakers, officials and analysts, due to questions about these types of maintenance problems, survivability questions and mission effectiveness.  Nevertheless, senior leaders, program managers, engineers and sailors have expressed enthusiasm for the ship’s performance in deployments and tests and the new kinds of multi-mission capabilities it will provide.

Overall, Navy leaders say the experiences of the LCS’ maiden deployment will pave the way for the ship’s future.

“It showed to the U.S. states Navy and to our allies that this ship is very capable, viable platform. It has a pretty bright future,” Copeman said.

About the Author

Kris Osborn
Kris Osborn is the managing editor of Scout Warrior and a former associate editor at Military.com.

20 Comments on "LCS 1 Conducted Operational Missions in South China Sea"

  1. Apparently the fact that the LCS-1 cost more than an Iowa Class Battleship to both design and build isn't part of the discussion. Of course, we don't build battleships anymore because they are too expensive. So when we needed a show of force in the China sea, we used an LCS instead of the Mighty Mo'. I think it sent the right message. After all, we are wimps, although the Missouri is a lot closer in age to the B-52's that did the flyby. Let's never go back to having the US Navy design their own ships like they did when the Iowa Class Battleship was designed and built. Obviously we are much better off now — because our defense contractors make record profits year after year, and we get ships like the LCS instead of the Mighty Mo' and they cost more. Isn't this the best of all possible worlds?

  2. Here's some translations from Navy-speak to common sense speak:

    "The missions included surface surveillance with radar" = So how much did we pay to get a simple radar picture?

    "LCS 1 also experienced a handful of reliability and maintenance challenges during its deployment" = No kidding Shirlock, tell us something new.

    "it is unique or unusual for a first-in-class research and development ship like LCS 1 to be given operational assignments," = Oh really, so how long does this period last-20 years?

    "The LCS fleet also relies on a technique known as condition-based maintenance, a method of using sensors to monitor and compile data about the health and functionality of the systems on the ship" = Brilliant! We used to do what is called preventative maintenance, we simple didn't wait for something to break and then limp into port and have civilians fix it.

    "Navy leaders say the experiences of the LCS’ maiden deployment will pave the way for the ship’s future." = If this is the Navy's future we're all s c r e w e d.

    "Nevertheless, senior leaders, program managers, engineers and sailors have expressed enthusiasm for the ship’s performance in deployments and tests and the new kinds of multi-mission capabilities it will provide." = They are extremely happy it didn't sink

  3. The LCS platform has been the subject of criticism and controversy from lawmakers, officials and analysts, due to questions about these types of maintenance problems, survivability questions and mission effectiveness.
    =====================================================
    Even the navy's own internal investigation concluded that the LCS is unlikely to be able to perform the tasks it was intended for, or for that matter survive in a hostile environment.

    Hence – one characteristic of the LCS that it shares with the F-35 is that it too, has had its mission profile reduced, because it could not meet even its most basic performance requirements.

    Now the navy is trying to create new propaganda (read: bovine fecal matter) so they can pull the old "bait and switch" on the taxpayers. But all anyone needs to do is look at the original requirements and mission profile (which attracted interest from foreign buyers), and contrast those with the heavily reduced requirements (and the tremendously inflated cost per sea frame), which since caused every potential foreign LCS customer to do the smart thing, and walk away.

    Other navies have been able to build full military hulls, with stealthy designs, far more armament and protection, *and* mission packages, for 1/3 LESS than what the US navy is spending on LCS.

    The only victory LCS is bringing to this nation is to the boardrooms of the companies that are manufacturing these floating corporate welfare programs.

  4. Maybe the speed will make up for the lack of a thicker hull to some extent. A moving target with countermeasures versus a heavily armored sitting duck?

  5. The word has gotten out to the LCS mafia to come here and give thumbs down to everyone who speaks the truth about the LCS (let's see how many thumbs down I get for this).

  6. Nothing better shows off America's decline to Asian nations than a LCS limping into your harbor.

    The Taiwanese for instance are cutting their defense budget from 3% to 2%, dropping conscription. They don't see any realistic chance of ever repelling a Chinese invasion. They know that if China invades Taiwan we will be there side by side with a long list of excuses.

  7. Big-Dean Great remarks.

  8. better off in the hands of the coasties

  9. i agree give the lcs that are already built to the coast guard or use it as remote controlled decoys controlled by a Arleigh Burke or Zumwalt and stop building more lcs. when our german navy introduced the new corvettes (Braunschweig class) i thought "not bad but could be better" but compared to an lcs our Braunschweigs are Mini-Zumwalts ;-)
    Maybe the united nations could use the lcs as peacekeepers because no one will feel threatened by them. or get rid of the few weapons, paint it white and sell to some saudi prince as a dinghy

  10. A Perry class frigate class frigate could have done the same, without breaking down!

  11. We should buy some Ambassador V FAC's to protect the LCS in its vital mission.

  12. Well, it floated, I guess that equals an operation….

  13. This is just after a DoD analysis saying LCS is not very survivable in combat situations and yet like every pet project teh Navy hugs and clamors to its inferior new ship.

  14. does anyone remember general "buck" turgidson in dr. strange love? "gee, I wish we had one of those domesday devices." what we have is a lot of star packing people that have wish lists but, not a lot of common sense. I saw a lack of common sense over 22 years, and can only conclude it still persists. what's needed is a panel of to oversee and get rid of the garbage before it goes from drawing board to reality. however, that's a big bunch of money floating around, and it would not be the first time.

  15. Thanks for posting yet another piece of pro-LCS fluff … how the Navy Brass has any credibility is a total shock to me. Honestly, someone needs to lose their stars and pension and end up in jail.

  16. I once thought NASA wasted their money in not buying the hardware to make the USS Enterprise space shuttle operational; but being that it was a research and development vehicle engineered to pave the way forward for the fleet, one has to wonder whether what problems might have occurred if NASA had sent the Enterprise up.

  17. Why not just make a shallow draft frigate?

  18. Didn't we have one in the Perry Class?

  19. As a former EM3c serving aboard an LCSL during WW2, the biggest problem the New LCS has is the amount of Electrical Power needed for propulsion and other devices. The Generators are the very heart of the ship. Nothing else will work without them!!! They need fuel of some kind .Also they have to be shut down for maintenance. Sounds like the new LCS 1 driving electric motors for propulsion is not very practical .

  20. I have a really hard time with the concept ships built today. We seem to design for the perceived threat? Well do you think the enemy, whom ever that will be, will stick to your battle plan? It seems the strategy pigeon holes the Navy into a fight they will be ill equipped to for. Drone programs are getting cut. The world war ships proved trading armor for speed and maneuverability isn't such a great idea. The range, speeds and payloads of munitions have dramatically increased, Electronic systems fail with combat damage and the only hope for survival is the crews response. This all seems bass-ackwards to me!

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