Time to scrap the Littoral Combat Ship?
The Department of Defense has long struggled with how to produce weapons systems that meet current and future challenges, and do so without breaking the bank.
Sometimes they get it right, but in cases like the troubled Littoral Combat Ship, budget hawks like Citizens Against Government Waste think it’s time to cut our losses and try something else:
Dubbed by some inside the Navy as the Little Crappy Ship, the LCS has been a disaster since its inception, with problems that include a vaguely defined mission, a lack of firepower and survivability, and design flaws leading to cracks in the hull and corrosion.
The latest setback surfaced on January 19, 2021, when the Department of Defense (DOD) announced that it had halted deliveries of the Freedom-class LCS because of a transmission design flaw. A Defense News article published on the same date cited a defect in the ship’s combining gear, “a complex transmission that transmits power generated by the ship’s engines to its waterjet propulsion system.” The Navy believes that the contractor, Lockheed Martin, is responsible for paying for repairs, which will likely take months for each ship.
Freedom-class LCS transmission issues are nothing new. In 2015, the maiden voyage of the LCS Milwaukee was cut short when the transmission broke down and the vessel required a tow to reach port.
The many and varied problems in the LCS program strongly indicate that it may be time to pull the plug. Such issues have caused lengthy delays. A June 2018 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report noted that “deliveries of almost all LCS under contract have been delayed by several months, and, in some cases, a year or longer.”
Defense programs are rarely scrapped in Washington because of the jobs and dollars involved. And those are legitimate concerns, particularly for members of Congress whose districts are tied to spending on various programs.
But after so many failures, and so much wasted taxpayer money, it’s time to move on.
Image Credit: Clemens Vasters from Viersen, Germany, Germany / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)