It’s been a while since we took a good swipe at the Little Crappy Ship . Sure, we mentioned Thursday that LCS-1 may finally deploy for the first time later this year. But actually noting the insanity that the program really is, it’s been a while.
One of the big goals for the LCS program was to field a ship with a very small core crew, and have additional crew assigned to the mission modules embarked. For example, the core crew for ship handling, the power plant and the combat system was originally pegged at 40 sailors. Additional sailors would come aboard to man the Surface Warfare module, and another detachment would form the ships aviation department.
Surprising no one who’s ever even smelled salt water, it turns out that a 40 man core crew is simply too small to perform the most basic upkeep of the ship, even when you have the XO manning a swab. The pending deployment of LCS-1 simply has to be a PR success for the Navy leadership, so of course, they’ve bumped up the core crew to 50. The problem is, the ship wasn’t designed to carry these extra sailors. So spaces designed to hold two sailors now have a third crammed in.
Given the small size of the crew, the Navy decided that the aluminum superstructure of the ship would not be painted. Keeping paint in good shape is manpower intensive, and an ongoing struggle. So eliminating the paint above the main deck should save a lot of manhours. Of course, you’d think a Navy that has operated painted ships for 150 years, and sent aluminum airplanes to sea for 80 would recognize that metal at sea gets painted for a reason. And so now before deployment, the ship will carry a paint job on its superstructure. And not just the regular haze grey of the rest of the fleet. The special snowflake LCS will sport a four color scheme designed by the crew, no less. Of course, the purpose of the four color scheme won’t be for camouflage, but rather to hide the smudges of the diesel exhaust.
And it’s not like the paint job on the hull is doing so well, either.
SAN DIEGO (Nov. 26, 2012) The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) departs San Diego harbor to conduct operations off the coast of Southern California. The littoral combat ship is a fast, agile, networked surface combatant designed to operate in the near-shore environment, while capable of open-ocean tasking, and win against 21st-century coastal threats such as submarines, mines and swarming small craft. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class John Grandin/Released)
I’m sure the crew of USS Freedom is working hard, trying to make their ship one to be proud of. It’s a shame the Navy did not give them a ship worthy of them.
[Update]: Real life intervened and I posted before I could mention that CDR Salamander has a post fisking some of the happy talk Big Navy still insists on spouting about the LCS.