The U.S. Navy is looking for ways to “get more usefulness” out of its new, growing fleet of Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), the service chief said Sept. 12.
As more ships are fielded, the Navy hopes to figure out how to increase their capability and make them simpler to operate, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said. The Navy has accepted delivery of eight of the 28 LCSs it plans to buy to perform anti-submarine, mine and surface warfare.
“The only mistake you can make is to be too slavishly focused on your original vision, when the data from the actual deployments could teach you something,” Richardson said at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. “As we deploy that ship, we’re learning lessons in just about every area,” including engineering and manning.
Richardson’s comments came four days after the Navy announced several revisions to LCS crewing, readiness and employment. Among the changes is that the first four vessels will become test ships so they can focus on supporting the development and rapid deployment of new weapons and delivery systems, without disrupting operations. The Navy also recently ordered a review of its engineering training programs in light of equipment problems experienced by several ships.
Austal USA and Lockheed Martin [LMT] are the prime contractors for the Independence– and Freedom-class variants, respectively.
In other comments, Richardson said the Navy continues to work on a memorandum of understanding with the Coast Guard that could lead to the creation of a joint program office to acquire a heavy icebreaker for polar missions.
Turning to missile defense, Richardson called that mission a “tremendous challenge” for naval warfare and said the Navy continues to look at potential improvements in technology and operational concepts. “We’re exploring all of the above,” he said.