The U.S. Navy has unveiled plans to retire the first four Littoral Combat Ships, the youngest of which is only six years old. The four ships all have at least 10, if not 20 years of service in them but are currently non-deployable test ships not rated for combat. It’s unclear why the Navy wants to dump them when at the same time it is trying to reach a fleet of 355 ships by 2030.
The Navy wants to retire the first two ships from the Freedom class of Littoral Combat Ships, USS Freedom and Fort Worth, commissioned into the fleet in 2008 and 2012, respectively. It also wants to retire the first two ships of the Independence-class. USS Independence, the lead ship in the class, was commissioned in 2010. USS Coronado was just commissioned in 2014, making it less than six years old.
The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program has been fraught with problems since its conception in the early 2000s. LCS was originally inspired by the concept of a small (500 ton), nimble, heavily armed “Streetfighter” of a ship capable of duking it out with large ships while operating in coastal regions and island chains.
This gradually morphed into a much larger ship, lightly armed, and equipped with interchangeable, self-contained “mission modules” that allowed it to become a submarine hunter, minesweeper, ship-killer, or commando transport within hours.
LCS was an ambitious program. One ship, forward deployed in the South China Sea for example, could swap modules to fulfill different roles without having to return to the U.S. to undergo an expensive and time-consuming refit—at least that was the theory. (end of excerpt)
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