The Afterguard

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The Littoral Combat Ship

I just discovered Gregg Easterbrook's recent web log post about the United State's Littoral Combat Ship program. Easterbrook is a senior editor for The New Republic, and writes the blog Easterblogg. His post The End of the Procurement Holiday, Part Two suggests that part of the appeal of the LCS program is that it's a fundamentally new class of surface ship, so funding might be easier to justify in a world where the US already has "ten times the carrier strength of the rest of the world combined." He also suggests that the Littoral Combat Ship won't be used to protect the American coastline, but rather to "prowl the waters off the Western coast of Africa," where significant new oil fields are being found.

Whether or not you agree with Easterbrook's analysis, isn't it safe to say that defense policy drives military procurement — at least to a certain extent? And if the current Administration has decided that Western African oil will be easier to defend than Gulf State oil, couldn't one also say that the industrial base the US is currently maintaining, which builds large vessels, may not be the appropriate industrial base to support the policy?

And, isn't the UK facing some similar issues?

Posted at 17:14:50 on 10/06/03 by The Editor


Raymond Phillips wrote:

Not an unreasonable hypothesis, but may be a bit of a stretch to conclude that the US will build an entirely new class of surface combatants just to procure oil from a different source. More reasonable to think that US is looking for more economical means of achieving policing and presence in inherently hostile regional waters. The oil angle is just icing on the cake.
posted at 13:54:11 on 01/08/04

Hugh wrote:

Since some 70% of the worlds people live in the littoral zone, it makes sense to build assets designed to operate in this environment. Further, the littoral zone can be strongly defended with relativly cheap techonology such as mines and diesel submarines. The US technological edge is less pronounced in this zone.
posted at 12:56:15 on 05/31/04

Charles Michael Dasaro wrote:

LCS - huh...

Is that the one with all-electric drive, a weird hull shape, a rail gun,
and other cool stuff like that???

Hey, I'm impressed already!

You're welcome.

Just Chuck <ixoye><

Seems like Peenemunde here to me -- Please excuse the SPELLING.
posted at 09:39:54 on 09/17/04

LCS Chick wrote:
posted at 12:53:00 on 12/22/04

LCS r us wrote:

Looks like both Lockheed and GD have contracts to build prototypes according to their websites. R. Philips appears to be right on, why build a ship to protect oil for China, India and Japan. I think this is about littoral zone control.
posted at 15:31:04 on 01/25/05

David wrote:

It seems to me that one of the greatest threats in the littoral environment are air-based, as demonstrated in the Falklands war when the Royal Navy lost 9 major surface combatants through air and missle attack. The LCS appears to be completely underarmed in this regard. Sure, it's going to have the RAM installed, but this is a self-defense measure only. The LCS will be incapable of defending other vessels aggainst air attack. Also, the decided lack of any ability to defend itself against larger surface combatants is another major hole in it's warfighting capabilities. A measly 57mm canon will be of little help against a more powerfully armed (and armored) opponant, such as with the navys of China, India, Russia, etc. Furthermore, the mission modules that are going to be used to "mission tailor" the ship seem somewhat odd. From what I've read, only one module will be used at a time, each being designed to deal with the specific threats of mines OR subs OR surfacecraft. What if the module for mines is being used and installed, does that mean it can't deal with subs or surfacecraft? It seems to me that in order to survive in the littorals the ship can NOT opperate alone. It needs other warships to babysit it. This is not good doctrine, since it now requires TWO vessels to perform a task, whereas with a true multi-mission design, it would be possible to perform the specific task with one vessel, while freeing up others for other duties. Just my personal observations so far. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding the while strategy behind it. If so, could anyone illuminate me?
posted at 12:17:11 on 01/29/05

Bruce wrote:

The idea from the original article seems to get some support from the latest deployment of the USS Emory S Land. See
posted at 14:36:55 on 01/29/05

Bruce wrote:

In response to David's comments I would point folks to http://www.globalsecurity.o... There is also a link from this site to the preliminary specifications for the LCS (http://www.globalsecurity.o...). In reading this latter document, it is appears the purpose of the LCS is to augment current assets. My interpretation is that air threats would be dealt with by blue water vessels stationed farther offshore.
posted at 14:49:04 on 01/29/05

Bruce wrote:

Another thought: I think the LCS would essentially be an updated and more capable version of the PC-1 class coastal patrol vessel. See http://www.globalsecurity.o...
posted at 15:00:12 on 01/29/05

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