The Navy's $700 Million Littoral Combat Ship Can Do Amazing Things, But It Keeps Breaking Down


Photo: General Dynamics

The USS Independence is in trouble. Built by General Dynamics, the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), designed for anti-submarine, anti-mine, and surface warfare, is beset by problems four years after its debut.Geoff Ziezulewicz at Stars and Stripes reports the LCS saw a string of failures across an array of systems in both models currently being fielded, but it is the USS Independence experiencing the lion’s share of problems.

From faulty anti-mine systems and lift platforms, to bad propulsion systems and hull corrosion, the Independence is seeing plenty of growing pains.

While experts say this may be normal for any new ship with new technology it’s hurting sales. In December 2011, Israel backed out of its order for two LCSs and instead ordered two Sa’ar 4.5-class missile corvettes.

But the Navy is already relying on the LCS to fill one fifth of its 30-year, 313 ship fleet. It’s training its sailors to use the LCS systems, and its far too committed to back out now.

Initiated 10 years ago, the LRC will eventually make up 1/5 on the Navy's 313-ship plan

...the modules will allow the LCS to perform mine detection, surface, and anti-submarine missions depending on which is installed

When all the problems are ironed out the LRC is expected to be the workhorse of the fleet

The ship's angular design make it very difficult to be spotted by radar

The Independence has a trimaran hull

In addition to cargo or container-sized mission modules, the bay can carry four lanes of multiple Strykers, and armoured Humvees

The flight deck is 1.5 times that of a standard surface ship

The foredeck has a modular weapons zone that will hold a 57 mm gun turret or missile launcher

A Rolling Airframe Missile launcher is mounted above the hangar for short-range defence against aircraft and cruise missiles, and .50-calibre gun mounts are provided topside

The core crew will be comprised of about 40 sailors

In addition to the 40 will be a mission package crew and an aviation detachment for a total crew of 75

Independence has an Interior Communications centre that can be curtained off from the rest of bridge

These pictures show the LCS simulator

LCS ships are going to be networked to share tactical information with other units

The Independence is 418 feet long, move at up to 60 mph, and cover a range of 10,000 nautical miles

The LCS's problems don't mean it won't go on to become a huge success

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