10 September 2023

Yeah Pretty Much

The good folks at ProPublica list 8 key failures for the rapidly being retired Littoral Combat Ships.

I think that in addition to the specifics, I think that a cultural failure, the insistence of the US Navy at reducing staffing to purchase the latest bling, is at the core of the problem.

That's why the LCS was a failure, and why the Zumwalt Class destroyers, with half the crewing of the previous Burke Class and twice the displacement were canceled after only 3 ships. 

Neither of them are survivable in a near peer conflict

However, the list is useful:

  1. Navy officials vastly underestimated the costs to build the ship in estimates provided to Congress. The original price tag more than doubled.
  2. The ships were supposed to be equipped with interchangeable weapons systems to allow them to fight, hunt submarines and detect mines. The Navy failed to make this happen.
  3. Scores of sailors and officers spent more time trying to fix the ships than sailing them.
  4. The Navy relied so heavily on contractors for maintenance and repair that sailors and officers were unable to fix their own ships.
  5. A string of high-profile breakdowns at sea beginning in late 2015 laid bare the limits of the ships and their crews.
  6. Top Navy commanders pressured subordinates to sail even when the crews and ships were not fully prepared to go to sea.
  7. One Navy secretary and his allies in Congress fought to build more of the ships even as they broke down at sea and their weapons systems failed. The Navy wound up with more ships than it wanted, at an estimated lifetime cost of $100 billion.
  8. Lawmakers with shipyards in their districts played a key role in expanding the program and protecting it from scrutiny.

The overall picture is one of gross corruption and an inability to think beyond the needs of the defense contractors who should be servants of the defense process, not their masters.


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