The ax eventually fell on the first of the US Navy’s problematic littoral combat ships, with the decommissioning of the USS Freedom (LCS-1). The deletion of Freedom of the fleet continues a process of withdrawal from these warships, which began with the former USS Independence (LCS-2) being decommissioned on July 31 and plans are underway to potentially deactivate three more Freedom-class ships â and one Independence-class ship â by March of next year.
The dismantling ceremony of Freedom, the lead ship of its class, took place yesterday at Naval Station San Diego, California. COVID-19 restrictions meant it was a closed-door event, but it seems possible that the fanfare surrounding the downgrade was in any case hushed up, with both LCS classes suffering a catalog of issues and the service. having finally lost patience with at least part of the fleet.
Nonetheless, Retired Rear Admiral Donald Gabrielson, the former Commander of the United States Naval Forces, Southern Command / Commander, US Fourth Fleet – and the Commander of the Freedom2008 commissioning crew – highlighted the achievements of the warship:
âI have never in my life seen or served alongside a group of people more capable, dedicated, dedicated, talented and inspiring than the Sailors I have served with with LCS and what I have watched all days since, âGabrielson said. âAs we recognize this bittersweet moment, I hope we will all remember that this ship was a vehicle for learning and innovating by making and making real progress in a short period of time, and that doesn’t happen with d ‘other ship concepts. “
When decommissioned, the Freedom had a crew of nine officers and 41 enlisted sailors. Built in Marinette, Wisconsin, by Fincantieri Marinette Marine, the warship was originally commissioned in November 2008.
Operational limitations meant that Freedom deployed only once in his career, moreover being mainly assigned to testing and training tasks. The first two examples of each subclass have been completed to different standards than the following examples, further reducing Freedomoperational relevance of. Navy officials said it would have cost an additional $ 2.5 billion to prepare the first four ships – two of each class – for combat. That’s roughly the purchase price of four brand new LCS.
“The LCS-1 decommissioning supports department-wide business process reform initiatives to free up time, resources and manpower in support of increased lethality,” wrote the Marine in an official press release. “The LCS remains a fast, agile, networked surface fighter, designed to operate in near-shore environments, while being able to perform tasks on the high seas and defeat coastal threats of the 21st century.”
Despite this positive rotation, the usefulness of the LCS remains hampered by its controversial mission modules, which were originally designed to be quickly put in and out of hulls in port, before the idea was scrapped, leaving every ship with only one module to be installed. As it stands, only the anti-surface version of these modules is installed on some hulls, as anti-submarine and mine countermeasures modules are not yet available.
Navy statement on USS decommissioning Freedom refers to the costs that will be saved as a result, reflecting the higher than expected expenses associated with the operation of these warships. Indeed, it has been reported in the past that the LCS is almost as expensive to operate as the higher performing well. Arleigh Burke –Class guided missile destroyer.
At the same time, problems with the propulsion systems on the Freedom class continued. In particular, this affected the combination gear, which connects the two main diesel engines to a pair of gas turbines in its waterjet propulsion system. The proper functioning of this machinery is essential for ships to reach speeds of 40 knots, which was a requirement from the start of the program.
Meanwhile, despite the removal of earlier units in both subclasses, production of the LCS continues. There are now 21 LCS in service, following yesterday’s dismantling. These include nine of the Freedom class, including five others under construction or under development, and another on order. There are also 12 Independence-Class warships in service, with five more under construction or in development, and one on order.
Problems with the powertrain led the Navy to suspend deliveries of Freedom class ships earlier this year.
Now that the first ship of each LCS subclass has been decommissioned, the Navy has its eye on the deactivation of three Freedom-USS class ships Fort worth (LCS-3), Detroit (LCS-7), and Small stone (LCS-9), plus one Independence-class ship, USS Coronado (LCS-4).
The service hopes to get rid of these next four ships by March 22 of next year, as part of its latest budget request for fiscal year 2022, but that will depend on congressional approval.
Among the next ships destined for disposal, the LCS-7 and LCS-9 were assigned for decommissioning due to problems with the combination gear. As for the LCS-3 and LCS-4, their removal was recommended due to the cost of upgrading them to a configuration that would provide commonalities with other newer LCSs.
If the Navy’s plans for these four ships are approved, they will be placed in the âOut of Service, Reserveâ status, meaning they could theoretically be reactivated if necessary.
While the Navy remains committed to building its tough LCS ships, at the same time it plans to introduce a new class of frigates, the FFG-62 Constellation class, with construction expected to start on the first hull imminently. However, the new warships are not expected to enter service until the late 2020s, which means that there is still a requirement for the LCS, at least on paper, if only a worse one. -go.
As if to demonstrate growing confidence in LCS ships, the Navy has announced plans to deploy six LCSs before the end of this year. This would be a milestone for the ships, which have so far only deployed sporadically, with several of these cruises being interrupted by embarrassing mechanical breakdowns. To date, no Littoral combat ships have deployed in the Middle East, including the tumultuous Persian Gulf, an area where these giant jet ships were supposed to dominate.
It is also hoped that new capabilities will increase the operational value of LCSs, including the planned addition of the Naval Strike Missile, or NSM, to all hulls. Consideration has also been given to adapting ships to the concept of advanced expeditionary base operations (EABO), currently being developed by the Navy and Marine Corps. Some have suggested that the LCS could be used in a role similar to a rapid troop transport, to move small groups of infantry around the Indo-Pacific theater.
The dismantling of the USS Freedom, coupled with the removal of the first of Independence-class ships, ends at least one chapter of the LCS saga. At the same time, with a stated ambition to reach a total fleet of 355 vessels, the decision to prematurely remove the hulls that would achieve this total is not taken lightly. While the Navy has not totally given up hope in these warships, it seems clear that the service’s future priorities lie elsewhere.
Update, October 1 Following a request from The war zone, the Navy confirmed that the former USS Freedom will be placed in the âOut of Service, Reserveâ (OCIR) status, as is also provided for the other four LCSs that the service wishes to withdraw. OCIR ships are stored in Bremerton, Washington.
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