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A former colleague whose son is a Navy Seal sent me information about the soon-to-be-commissioned USS Independence, a littoral combat ship, or LCS. Something about big, stealth-looking, kick-ass ships really appeals to me. Designed by General Dynamics for operation in coastal areas, the LCS is fast and highly maneuverable. This “small, fast, affordable ship” — “affordable” in this case being something around $200M — has a trimaran hull. The LCS is 127.1 m long, has a max. beam of 30.4 m, and a 4.5 m draft. Top speed is something north of 45 knots, possibly as high as 60 knots. The picture above shows the Independence making a turn at an alleged 43-knot speed; its wake is impressively small and smooth.

The direct aft shot shown above clearly shows its trimaran hull.

LCS Program [Manufacturer’s Site]
USS Independence [Navy’s Program Executive Office, Ships]

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13 Responses to It’s Just Cool: Littoral Combat Ship

  1. river1 says:

    too COOL!!!

  2. Old Coot says:

    I want one of those!

  3. Bweetza says:

    “The best offense is a good defense.” Damn nice piece of floating ‘let’s rock’.

  4. Kurt says:

    It was affordable at 200 (actually 220) million. With cost overruns, the Independence (LCS-2) has run over 600 million, perhaps even 700. A LCS done to a different design (monofull), the USS Freedom (LCS-1) is about 100 million cheaper.

    We are building far fewer ships for our Navy and the cost per unit is going up accordingly, as the yards struggle to stay in business. Areligh Burke class guided missile destroyers cost between 1 and 1.2 billion each , Virginia Class subs around 2 billion each, and the lead ship of the Gerald R. Ford class nuclear carriers is looking to come in at around 6 billion (lead ships are always more expensive)

    The LCS should show considerable cost savings over the guided missile frigates they are replacing, as they have a crew of 75 compared to around 250 for the FFG’s. How this will impact damage control, war fighting and damage control remains to be seen.

  5. Karl says:

    LCS aka little crappy ship…. looks neat on paper, but this program has been doomed since it’s inception… just kill it already

  6. ShopMonger says:

    Karl, can you maybe expound…..

    I see these as the wave of the future. Less fuel consumption, more speed, great stability. I worked on hull design for a year or so. and these are teh way to go for small fast ship… So why the decension..

    ShopMonger

  7. johnnyp says:

    Shopmonger , Karl’s assessment in at least one part of the ship is questionable. I do know the gear box design is a far cry from previous designs (ddg) and have been told long term durability could be an issue. This info comes guys who built several various types of marine gear sets. You get what you pay for.
    As far as top speed goes, I don’t know where you got that number. The Navy generally keeps this info close to the vest. I worked on design of ddg and ssn gear units and can tell you that info is not readily available. There are a few variables that will give a decent estimate. Very rarely are all parameters available to do this.

  8. DrunkenMessiah says:

    Its been good to see the Military, slowly but surely, changing tactics in terms of hardware and strategy. Full-scale mechanized warfare is OVER. It has been over since WWII. As soon as Little Boy and Fat Man dropped over japan war was changed forever. Its infuriating to think that large, fully-mechanized war units continued to be made and planned for long after WWII. Look at Vietnam, look at Korea, look at every conflict that has occurred since after we fought the Nazis. Have any of these wars been anything like the tank vs tank aircraft vs aircraft battles that happened all over Europe?

    No.

    Large, advanced nations will never go to war again. MAD sees to that. Modern conflict is a wholly different animal. Our military is finally starting to see that, though sadly only after repeatedly getting their asses handed to them in Afghanistan and Iraq; by poorly-funded zealots hiding in the dirt! We can’t fight wars like we used to. Modern conflict is all about rapid deployment, pinpoint accuracy, up-to-the-second intelligence. None of this lumbering around with aircraft carriers and whole tank battalions. As much as a fabulously glorious machine it is, as much as I love it, what the hell do we need the F-22 raptor for?!? Is any country with access to the Eurofighter gonna start some shit? Is Russia going to try and claim air dominance over Europe?

    Once again: No.

    What we need is the Land Warrior System, what we need are faster more highly-trained and lethal combat units like the Marines. Low weight, rapid deployment, highly concentrated lethality, high-speed responses to small conflicts that flare up and disappear faster than a traditional American force could even deploy. We are not fighting developed nations. We’re fighting a bunch of nutters riding around in the back of old Toyota pickup trucks toting 30-year-old Russian small arms. Terrorists, pirates, small lightly-armed, but no less dangerous enemies.

    The LCS is exactly the kind of boat we should be building: smaller, lighter, cheaper, faster but still very lethal. This philosophy needs to extend to every corner of our military service if we hope to stand a chance against the threats of the 21st century.

    -DM

  9. eddie says:

    Very interesting and informative comments here.

  10. Karl says:

    It’s the LCS program management that I was knocking, not the ship design. My ‘little crappy ship’ comment was emotional and misleading. Being a member of the Navy’s surface community, it has been frustrating to watch this story unfold. There’s plenty of articles online… http://www.naval-technology.com/features/feature2184/ touches on the main issues

  11. bigalexe says:

    @DrunkenMessiah: I agree completely, except that I don’t think a war of Everyone vs. China is completely unreasonable to see start in the near future (20 years or less). I think economics may play a big part to start the stuff moving but it may well occur.

  12. DrunkenMessiah says:

    @Karl

    Excellent article there. It illustrates perfectly almost every problem military-commissioned manufacturers tend to have. I am all-too-familiar with this scenario. My father worked for Boeing on the F-117 project. Little known fact: the F-117 is a shit airplane. Aerodynamically, it wants to fly backwards. Even less well-known is that in late testing phases, during “hard run” 500-foot locked-altitude tests, the characteristic V tail assembly would spontaneously fall off, sending the craft careening into the ground. Boeing lost ELEVEN test pilots this way before they decided to acknowledge that it was a problem. A group of young-gun engineers, including my dad, where called in to tackle the issue. When my father suggested to fix the problem using composites, he met more flack than a WWII strafing pilot. He and his team battled to get composites approved and faught even harder to build the entire F-22 raptor that way. They won the fight, but dad stepped on so many corporate toes in the process he had to leave the company so as not to get pigeon-holed into a state of perpetually shit engineering jobs.

    Hilariously, that same corporate culture would end up hailing composites as the next greatest thing in aerospace. 20-some years later the 787 “dreamliner” is made completely out of composites.

    @bigalexe

    *shrugs*

    Possibly, but if you want to talk most likely I’d say Everyone vs. North Korea is a more plausible scenario. As nutty and totalitarian as their government is, China isn’t run by a long string of madmen. Certainly not on the order of Kim Jong-il. That war would be reasonably mechanized. I’m not saying that we need to throw all large military hardware out the window, just that in the information age we can be 100x as lethal with less cumbersome tools.

    A lot of the current military re-vamp programs illustrate this point perfectly. The A-10 warthog was supposed to be put out to pasture, but instead they gutted the cockpit, slapped in some 21st century electronics, bolted on modern GPS/laser-guided weapon systems and sent the mighty Warthog back out into the fray. Likewise, the Paladin mobile howitzer gun was an aging beast set to be taken out of commission. Instead they loaded them up with astonishing new GPS-guided 155 millimeter shells and away it went. Mechanically, much of the previous-generation hardware is perfectly good stuff, it just needs intelligence upgrades.

    China could be a problem, but I personally see them going the route of the Japanese. Japan could have held a grudge against us after WWII, but they did not. Instead, they westernized like never before and now as one of the smallest nations on earth they have the muscle of the 2nd biggest economy in the world. They chose to beat us at our own game instead of fighting. I think that, culturally and economically, China very much wants to do this as well.

  13. johnny says:

    japan couldn’t hold a grudge against us after WW2 even if they wanted to, seeing how we basically occupied that island chain until the 70s (and even then, we have kadena/okinawa)even if we didnt, they knew the power we had and wouldn’t have been stupid enough to test us again.

    china is pressing forward with their military growth, flexing their muscles in the south china sea bullying the philippines and vietnam…..their actions in tibet and constant threats against taiwan give reason for pause also…..nation to nation conflicts are perfectly possible in the 21st century……

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