Navy plans to deploy three littoral combat ships by this fall

The U.S. Navy plans to deploy three littoral combat ships by this fall after an overhaul of the program kept all of the vessels sidelined last year.

By Allen Cone
Navy plans to deploy three littoral combat ships by this fall
The LCS USS Gabrielle Giffords is christened in Port of Galveston, Texas, on June 10, 2017. The Navy plans to deploy the ship, named for the former U.S. House member who was shot in 2011, this fall from its homeport in San Diego. Photo by U.S. Navy

Jan. 14 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy plans to deploy three littoral combat ships by this fall after an overhaul of the program kept all of the small surface vessels sidelined last year.

Vice Adm. Richard Brown, the commander of Naval Surface Forces, told reporters Friday that "we're deploying LCS this year, it's happening."


He said the USS Montgomery and USS Gabrielle Giffords, which are two Independence-class ships, would deploy from San Diego to the Western Pacific. The Freedom-class USS Detroit will deploy to the East Coast from Mayport, Fla., this year.

"Now there will always be LCS forward deployed now, just like we designed the program," Brown told reporters. "We are very excited about that because the naval component commanders are screaming for LCS because they know what they're going to bring to the fight."

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In early 2020, the USS Little Rock will be sent from Florida. Last year, it was stuck in ice near Montreal from December through March, and unable to move.

Fourteen ships have been commissioned, and another 17 are being built or in the process of being delivered, according to the U.S. Navy.


Brown told reporters the LCS was built to be a single-mission ship.

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The deploying ships will be outfitted with the Surface Warfare Mission module, and focus on partner-building exercises, fisheries patrols and other work suitable for a small surface combatant.

No ships were deployed last year because of significant shortages in manning and advanced training. The LCS homeporting, command and control and manning constructs were overhauled in 2016.

The LCS community has a "lack of distributable inventory" for sailors, and the Navy has shown "insufficient LCS prioritization to support current/future billets," according to LCS briefing slides from Naval Surface Force Pacific in late August.

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It noted enlisted sailors who report to an LCS crew are not always fully trained.

"One challenge presented by small crews is that each crew member, regardless of rank or rate, is vital to the operation of the ship. ... Unlike other ships, there is almost no redundancy within LCS crews and the unplanned loss of even a single crew member may result in major mission degradation," the Navy noted in the briefing presentation.

The Freedom-class ships are built by a consortium of Lockheed Martin, Fincantieri and its subsidiary Marinette Marine. General Dynamics and Austal makes the Independence-class vessels.


The first littoral combat ship, USS Freedom, was commissioned in 2008 in Veteran's Park, Milwaukee, Wis. The first of the Independence-class ships, the USS Independence, was commissioned in 2010 in Mobile, Ala.

The Navy on Jan. 12 commissioned the USS Wichita into service, and christened the USS St. Louis, the 19th LCS, in December.

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