The Navy's Littoral Combat Ship Mistake
The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is very cool looking and designed to be a "transformer type ship" with parts that interchange for different mission types. It is not a deep ocean ship, but one for the coastal and shallow water areas. They use a water jet propulsion system instead of a propeller. their hulls are light steel or aluminum and they are armed with one 57mm gun.
The original cost for one was $220 million, now, it is $440 million. The Navy cannot seem to decide how many they want, originally, they wanted 55 of them, now it is 32. That is because the Navy's budget is shrinking faster than since the Korean War. At $440 million each, while costly, it is far cheaper than to build a new destroyer ($2 billion) or carrier ($13 billion).
Only four have been built and those are mostly bare-bones models since the program started 10 years ago. Since testing the ship, over 150 changes have been made to it and in naval wargames, the ship has performed poorly. Problems with steering and propulsion are serious because many times the engines live the ship dead in the water. The current crew is 40,but many feel the number is too small to perform what it is designed for.
Many are concerned about how lightly armed this ship is. One anti-ship missile would waste this expensive ship and armed with just one 57mm gun is rather obsolete for a ship of the 21st century! Even Iranian small attack craft can be armed with two anti-ship missiles. Imagine a 57 mm gun trying to hit an incoming missile flying a supersonic speed.
The Navy is divided about this ship. It plans to make-up one-third of surface fleet with this ship by 2028. Can money be better spent?
Some think so.