Favourite photos of 2013 #3: Launch of PCU USS Forth Worth (LCS-3)

101204-N-0000X-003 MARINETTE, Wis. (Dec. 4, 2010) The littoral combat ship Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Fort Worth (LCS 3) is launched into the Menominee River during a christening ceremony for the navy’s third littoral combat ship. Fort Worth will continue to undergo outfitting and testing at Marinette Marine before delivery to the Navy in 2012. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin/Released)

USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) slides into Lake Michigan during christening ceremony

131218-N-EW716-001 MARINETTE, Wis. (Dec. 18, 2013) The littoral combat ship Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Milwaukee (LCS 5) slides into Lake Michigan during a christening ceremony at the Marinette Marine Corporation shipyard. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin/Released)

Huntington Ingalls shutters Gulfport shipyard

It looks like a $59m financial hit to Huntington Ingalls and 427 jobs gone at Gulfport. The Zumwalt-class destroyer seems a busted flush… the US Navy originally planned to build 32, which was cut to 10, and finally to 3… and then the Arleigh Burke Flight IIA production line was restarted. It may be some consolation for the suits in Pascagoula that HII will pickup half of those Arleigh Burke contracts.

Huntington Ingalls to Close Gulfport Composite Facility

The deckhouse for the future USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) sits on a barge at Norfolk Naval Station in 2012. US Navy Photo

Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) will shutter its composite manufacturing facility in Gulfport, Miss. following a decision by the U.S. Navy to switch from composites to steel in the construction of the deckhouse for the last of three Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyers (DDG-1000), HII announced Wednesday.

According to a HII filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company expects to close the facility by May of 2014.

The closure expects to impact 427 workers at the facility and incur a cost of $59 million to the company, according to a Sept. 4 8K filing to the SEC.

“This is a difficult but necessary decision,” said HII President and CEO Mike Petters said in a statement. “Due to the reduction in the Zumwalt-class (DDG-1000) ship construction and the recent U.S. Navy decision to use steel products on Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002), there is both limited and declining Navy use for composite products from the Gulfport Facility.”

The Gulfport facility built the first two 1,000-ton deckhouses for the Zumwalts as well as four hulls for the Osprey-class mine hunter ships briefly used by the Navy before the service abandoned the program in favor of the mine hunting systems based on the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). The facility had planned to build U.S. Coast Guard vessels before the service decided to go with steel instead.

In August, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) announced it had awarded General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW) $212 million fixed-price contract to build the deckhouse at its Maine shipyard for the planned Johnson.

Other than the deckhouses, the only other Navy work for the facility was manufacture of the composite masts for the San Antonio-class (LPD-17) amphibious warships. HII said in August it anticipated work on the masts to be completed in the first part of 2014.

“The composite design was initially required to meet weight requirements. Subsequent to the award of DDG-1000 and 1001 superstructures, sufficient weight removal allowed for the opportunity to provide a steel superstructure, which is a less costly alternative,” NAVSEA officials said in an August statement to USNI News.

When asked if there were any other options for the facility, HII officials told USNI News, ”we have been exploring other uses for Gulfport but — to date — have not identified an alternative plan ahead.”


SECDEF ready to cut LCS program to 24 vessels, not 52

Considered “not survivable” in combat, over budget, of limited operational value… and now cut short.

Sources: Pentagon Backs Cutting LCS to 24 ships

Sources say officials in the Office of the Secretary of Defense want to cut the total LCS buy from 52 to 24. Here, the first-in-class LCSs Freedom, left, and Independence maneuver off San Diego in May 2012. (Lt. Jan Shultis / Navy)

WASHINGTON — The office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) reportedly supports the idea of limiting total purchases of littoral combat ships to only 24, far short of the US Navy’s goal of 52 ships, sources have told Defense News.

Stopping at 24 ships would end LCS procurement with the fiscal 2015 budget.

The Navy, according to sources, is countering with proposals for higher numbers, but strongly advocates going no lower than 32 ships — a number that would continue production another one or two years.

The positions are part of ongoing deliberations to formulate the fiscal 2015 defense budget, due to be submitted to Congress in February. The annual budget process has been heavily disrupted due to sequester cuts, and the White House’s insistence on producing two versions of the budget — a non-sequestration version, called the program objective memorandum (POM) — and an alternative POM (ALT POM), incorporating the mandated cuts and hence, far more severe reductions in purchases and programs.

Pentagon budget officials have focused primarily on the ALT POM, and in late August began switching to the POM. The OSD proposal to limit LCS to 24 ships is understood to be part of the ALT POM discussions.

Asked for comment, both OSD and Navy officials emphasized that no final decisions have been made.

“Until the FY15 President’s Budget request is submitted to the Congress in February 2014, and becomes part of the public record, all decisions are pre-decisional and it is inappropriate to discuss specific details,” said Lt. Caroline Hutcheson, a Navy spokeswoman at the Pentagon.

“We continue to evaluate the future demand for forces and will maintain a balance between force structure requirements while managing fiscal and operational risk,” she added. “We remain committed to a 52-ship LCS program —this number accurately and appropriately captures the requirement for capacity and capabilities.”

One defense official noted a mandated $52 billion cut is coming at the end of fiscal 2013, Sept. 30.

“You can’t cut force structure that quickly,” Maureen Schumann, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said Aug. 28. “We’ve already cut the readiness accounts to a bare minimum. So the investment accounts will take an inordinate part of those cuts for 2014 on.”

In addition to supporting a reduction to 24 ships, OSD also reportedly is insisting the Navy place a top priority on fielding the mine countermeasures (MCM) module, one of three major mission packages under development for the LCS.

The Navy already has prioritized the MCM module in order to fulfill its most pressing operational need for the ships — three developmental packages have been delivered — but the effort has seen significant issues that have pushed back its operational readiness.

Sean Stackley, the Navy’s top acquisition official, noted during a July 25 appearance before Congress that, “sequestration, combined with recent congressional marks and rescissions, will impact the operational test schedule for the mine countermeasures mission package.”

Stackley did not say during that hearing what the revised initial operational capability (IOC) date was for the MCM module, but he noted the surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare packages are scheduled to reach IOC in 2014 and 2016, respectively.

What 24 Means

While LCS has been controversial since its inception more than a decade ago, the Navy’s top leadership has never wavered in its support of the full program. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, have remained adamant in their support, testifying before Congress in defense of the program and proclaiming it in multiple public addresses.

Vice Adm. Tom Copeman, commander of the Navy’s surface forces, noted in an internal memo produced in November that with 24 ships — half devoted to mine warfare — the Navy will have exceeded the current minesweeping capacity of its ships and aircraft. While the modules are required to be interchangeable between the two LCS variants, only the Independence-class ships have been used in developmental MCM testing.

Four littoral combat ships have been delivered, while construction contracts or contract options have been awarded for 20 more. The numbers are evenly divided between the Freedom class, built by Lockheed Martin at Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wis., and the Independence class, built by Austal USA in Mobile, Ala. Construction contracts have been awarded for LCS hulls five through 16; four more are in the 2014 budget, while hulls 21 through 24 are planned to be funded and awarded in 2015.

The Navy’s program of record shows two ships scheduled for 2016, and two more in 2017. A minimum of 32 ships would extend production another one or two years — enough, perhaps, for the sequestration restrictions to be relaxed or eliminated.

Meanwhile, Pentagon budget deliberations continue on a wide scale. But time is growing short. Under OSD deadlines, budget proposals are to be presented to the deputy’s Management Action Group in late September, followed by briefings to Frank Kendall, the Defense Department’s top acquisition official, in late September or early October. A full budget brief to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel isn’t expected until November.


USS Coronado (LCS 4) completes acceptance trials

The USS Coronado (LCS 4) will be the US Navy’s 4th multi-mission littoral combat ship from a commitment to purchase 52 as replacements for frigates, mine countermeasures vessels, and assault ships. The project is 100% over budget and the ships are not considered to be survivable in combat, yet the Pentagon’s commitment to purchase 52 units remains.

LCS 4 Completes Acceptance Trials

MOBILE, Ala. (NNS) — The future USS Coronado (LCS 4) successfully concluded acceptance trials after completing a series of graded in-port and underway demonstrations for the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV), the Navy announced Aug. 28.

130823-N-EW716-001 GULF OF MEXICO (Aug. 23, 2013) The future USS Coronado (LCS 4) conducts at-sea acceptance trials in the Gulf of Mexico. Acceptance trials are the last significant milestone before delivery of the ship to the U.S. Navy, which is planned for later this fall. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Austal USA/Released)

Acceptance trials are the last significant milestone before delivery of the ship to the Navy, which is planned for later this fall. The ship completed trials Aug. 23.

“Coronado’s performance was strong” said Rear Adm. Robert Wray, INSURV president. “[This was] the most complete and rigorous trial on the Independence variant to date. I remain bullish on these seaframes.”

During the four-day trial, the Navy conducted comprehensive tests intended to demonstrate the performance of the propulsion plant, ship handling and auxiliary systems. While underway, the ship successfully performed launch and recovery operations with both the 7-meter and 11-meter rigid hull inflatable boats, a four-hour full power run, surface and air self defense detect-to-engage exercises, and demonstrated the ship’s tremendous maneuverability performing tight turns and accomplishing speeds in excess of 40 knots.

“Coronado encompasses lessons learned from the construction and operation of its predecessor USS Independence. The value of those changes was evident in the strong performance of the ship during her trial.” said LCS Program Manager Capt. Tom Anderson. “It’s a very exciting time in the LCS program.”

Following delivery and commissioning, Coronado will be homeported in San Diego with its sister ships USS Freedom (LCS 1), USS Independence (LCS 2) and USS Fort Worth (LCS 3).

Milwaukee (LCS 5), Detroit (LCS 7), Little Rock (LCS 9) and Sioux City (LCS 11) are under construction at the Marinette Marine Corp. shipyard in Marinette, Wis., and Jackson (LCS 6), Montgomery (LCS 8), Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) and Omaha (LCS 12), are under construction at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala.

Wichita (LCS 13) and Billings (LCS 15) are under contract with Marinette Marine Corp and in the pre-production phase, while Manchester (LCS 14) and Tulsa (LCS 16) under contract with Austal and in the pre-production phase.

The littoral combat ship class is designed to defeat threats in coastal waters where increasingly capable submarines, mines, and swarming small craft operate. To deliver capabilities against these threats, the Navy introduced LCS with innovative concepts, such as modular mission packages, to quickly respond to an evolving threat.

The Navy is committed to a 52-ship LCS class.


PHOTEX: USS Independence (LCS 2) demonstrates its maneuvering capabilities

130718-N-NI474-218 PACIFIC OCEAN (July 18, 2013) The littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS 2) demonstrates its maneuvering capabilities in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel M. Young/Released)

130718-N-NI474-053 PACIFIC OCEAN (July 18, 2013) The littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS 2) demonstrates its maneuvering capabilities in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel M. Young/Released)

130718-N-NI474-063 PACIFIC OCEAN (July 18, 2013) The littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS 2) demonstrates its maneuvering capabilities in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel M. Young/Released)

USS Freedom (LCS 1) loses power after generator problems

USS Freedom (LCS 1), lead vessel in her class of littoral combat ships, suffers further problems and puts in for further repairs. Is this simply teething troubles with the lead vessel, or a sign of a deeper probkem? Either way, a tad embarrassing for American technology… and somewhat inconvenient, coming just days before a Congressional hearing into the LCS program.

U.S. warship returns to Singapore after generator problems at sea

(Reuters) – The USS Freedom, one of the U.S. Navy’s new coastal warships, returned to port in Singapore on July 20 after suffering electrical problems at sea as it was preparing for a bilateral naval exercise with Singapore, a Navy spokesman said.

The ship, built by Lockheed Martin Corp, may be able to return to sea for the at-sea portion of the exercise if repairs are done quickly, said Lieutenant Commander Clay Doss.

It is the latest in a series of problems faced by the new warship on its first major overseas deployment. Freedom left San Diego on March 1 and arrived on April 18 in Singapore, where it is due to participate in a Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise with the Singaporean Navy this week.

The latest incident occurred just days before a July 25 hearing by the House Armed Services Committee about the Navy’s new class of Littoral Combat Ships, including Freedom, a steel monohull design, and a second model built by Austal, based on an aluminum trimaran design.

The Navy plans to spend $34 billion to build 52 of the new warships, which were designed to patrol coastal waters while tackling threats like mines and enemy submarines.

The head of the House seapower subcommittee told reporters last month that he may push for funding cuts given a critical draft report by the Government Accountability Office, a congressional watchdog agency.

Doss said the ship lost propulsion briefly as its crew was preparing to take on fresh supplies by helicopter, but the ship’s overall power did not go out, and the supply run was completed as planned.

Initial checks showed that one of the ship’s diesel generators overheated and shut down, Doss said. He said the crew found exhaust leaks in turbochargers – which are used to increase the speed and power of the generators – in two of the generators and determined that they needed to be replaced.

The ship also had problems with its online generators that will require further troubleshooting by maintenance technicians in Singapore, Doss said.

“Despite challenges that are not uncommon for any U.S. Navy ship on deployment, let alone a first-of-class ship that has never deployed overseas before, the Freedom crew continues to perform well as they capture valuable lessons learned,” he said.

He said the Navy was confident it had the right technical and logistics resources in place in the region to address the ship’s electrical problems.

Since departing for Singapore, Freedom has faced issues with its coolant system, which forced it to port for repairs, and Navy tests found vulnerabilities in its computer network.

Navy officials say they remain confident in the new class of warships which can be reconfigured for a variety of missions. They say the problems seen with Freedom and Independence so far are typical of those faced by any new ship built.

Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert told reporters on Friday the challenges faced by Freedom were similar to those seen on earlier classes of warships, including the Arleigh Burke destroyers.

“But we need to be vigilant, and we need to follow up, and we have work to do,” Greenert said.


New submarines, helicopter carriers, corvettes for Russian Navy

The Russian Navy has been decommissioning its Soviet-era Sovremenny class (Project 956) destroyers since 1998 and the Steregushchy class (Project 20380) corvettes seems to be an adequate replacement. These are multi-mission vessels that are powerful enough to be designated as frigates by NATO, comparable in rôle to the FREMM, LCS and Type 26… although the Russians insist they are merely corvettes.

Whether or not the BrahMos-equipped Project 21956 destroyer ever goes into a production run is still to be seen. It would seem to be the logical replacement for the aging Udaloy (Project 1155) class.

Russia’s Pacific Fleet to Receive New Warships in 2014

Mistral-class helicopter carrier

MOSCOW, July 19 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian Pacific Fleet will start receiving new warships in 2014 for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fleet’s commanders said.

“Rather large-scale deliveries of new equipment, new warships to the Pacific Fleet will start in 2014,” Rear Admiral Sergei Avakyants said in an interview with Rossiya 24 television on Thursday.

Avakyants emphasized the fact that the fleet received a new warship last time in 1991.

According to the Russian military, at least one of the two Mistral-class helicopter carriers, being built in France for the Russian navy, is intended for the Pacific Fleet, which has already prompted concerns in Japan.

Several Project 20380 Steregushchy-class corvettes are being built for the Pacific Fleet at the Amur shipyard in Russia’s Far East with estimated delivery in 2014-2015.

In addition, one of the first Borey-class ballistic missile submarines will be put in service with the fleet after the much anticipated commissioning by the end of 2013, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

The Pacific Fleet currently consists of the Varyag missile cruiser, four Udaloy-class destroyers, a Sovremenny-class destroyer and dozens of submarines, including five Delta III-class ballistic missile submarines.