The Little Crappy Ship I

Written by Ryan Crierie on Monday, September 13, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Recently Galrahn over at Information Dissemination has been on a tear trashing the LCS for the last week or so. The latest one is HERE

That post failed on several levels.

He focused on rather ludicrous problems with the LCS; such as the glassed in bridge being vunerable to enemy fire, or the fact that a RPG could penetrate the hull, since these are problems every naval warship has.

He’s right about how the Cult of Speed (TM) has crippled the program. It’s why both designs look the way they do.

It’s why they have the same power plant as the 60,000+ ton Queen Elizabeth CVs (two MT-30 gas turbines), in order to push a 3,000 ton ship up to 45+ knots.

Yes, that is not a typo. 45 plus knots.

To get that kind of capability; both designs had to be severely compromised.

1.) The sustained 45+ knot run capability means that of LCS’ 600-700 ton dead weight; a significant fraction of it is going to be fuel; far more than a conventional ship. This means less weight available for growth margins, non-fuel payload such as weapons and sensors.

Yes, I know you can say “look, we’ll just load only 60% of the fuel and permanently limit the ships to 34 knot top speeds” to grow the weight margins…but then that kind of defeats the whole purpose and design rationale for LCS.

2.) The hull had to be built very lightly with a very large amount of length between scantlings to reduce weight. This means that the ships’ service life is severely compromised, all the more so if they spend an appreciable amount of time at high speeds in moderate sea states and endure a lot of wave slamming.

3.) In keeping with the “build as light as possible”, both LCS designs were waived from US Navy Shock/Damage requirements, so the hulls could be built with thinner plates.

4.) Apparently one reason why cost has spiraled up for the design is that the systems integration task for LCS is horribly complicated by the extreme vibrational environment the whole weapons system has to endure — slamming into waves at 40 plus knots imposes a pretty harsh vibration/shock environment to LCS’ sensor suite/computer suite.

The Mark V Special Operations Craft is a cautionary tale towards this point. Even with special shock absorbing seats; the SEALs using the MK Vs kept getting hit with 20 gees as the MK Vs slammed into waves while going full blast at 47 to 50 knots.

Bruises, sprained ankles, chipped teeth, and various other injuries resulted. LCS is going to suffer from that at it’s full speed in anything but a calm sea state.

Honestly, I don’t foresee a long career for LCS. They’ll be testbeds for their entire lives and then quietly exit the fleet like DDG-1000 and 1001.

Categories: Oops, Ships

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