Thursday, May 9, 2013

U.S. Navy Spends $37 Billion On A Ship That Barely Works

And Navy brass have known about the problems for a year, according to new revelations.  

Littoral Combat Ship 

The Littoral Combat Ship was supposed to anchor the Navy of the future. Instead, a report obtained by Bloomberg News reveals a program plagued by problems, high costs, and an inability to meet even simple docking requirements.

Ideally, the Littoral Combat Ship is one vessel that can transform to fulfill one of three roles at a time: anti-mine, anti-submarine, or ocean surface combat. To do this, it uses interchangeable modules, helicopters, unmanned underwater vehicles (sea drones!), and missiles, depending on the mission. In theory, the modules work like LEGOs, swapping out a sonar array from the anti-submarine kit for a 30mm gun in the surface warfare kit.

In practice, the modules don't work. The goal was for a 96-hour turnaround between modules in place and specific other tools needed (the above-mentioned helicopters, etc). A ship that adaptable and flexible could respond rapidly to a crisis. But the report obtained by Bloomberg reveals that while a 96-hour module exchange is technically possible, it requires a nearby dock, with all the components for the next module already on hand. That takes a lot of advance planning to set up and requires fetching spare modules from naval bases beforehand (a process that took weeks in a training exercise.)

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