Open Thread - Thurs 21 Sep 2023 - LCS - Little Crappy Ships
Little Crappy Ships
Recently I read a ProPublica story which explores how the navy has spent billions on littoral combat ships (LCS) which can't do what they are supposed to do, constantly break down, and ... well, it's mind boggling, really. It's a very sad and scary look into what our military and other authorities do with our tax dollars when they have their hearts set on something, don't understand what they are doing really (how the heck they get in charge of things like... I dunno, the Navy, is just insane), and just spend, spend, spend without a frapping care. The ProPublica story is: The Inside Story of How the Navy Spent Billions on the “Little Crappy Ship” by Joaquin Sapien. And ProPublica has published a shorter article about the key takeaways of their exploration: Eight Things You Need to Know About the Navy’s Failed Multibillion-Dollar Littoral Combat Ship Program.
The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) in Feb 2013. By 2016 she was a mess, according to the ProPublica article. Image from Wikipedia.
A key takeaway from ProPublica's articles is that Navy officials 'vastly underestimated' how much the ships would cost to build. This seems, to me, to be standard operating procedure for the military (and the government as well) and the companies that own the military, errr, I mean the companies that make military products. Yea, that's what I meant! Like, the F-35! Or the JASSM (Joint Air-to-Surface Strike Missile) which Caitlin Johnstone wrote about recently.
From the ProPublica Article:
The LCS program offers another clear lesson, one seen in almost every infamous procurement disaster. Once a massive project gains momentum and defense contractors begin hiring, it is politically easier to throw good money after bad.
One of the original reasons for making the ships was to have small ships which could change roles in combat and other instances by changing weapons systems. This was inspired by what Admiral Vernon Clark saw in Denmark in 2002; a Danish naval vessel upon which the weapons systems could be changed, basically at will. The Admiral wanted that! So he advocated for building a series of small ships, manned by only 40 sailors; a 'sort of swiss army knife for the Navy' in which weapons systems could be changed as necessary. But the LCSs never were able to do that, they never were able to interchange weapons systems from combat, to submarine hunting, to mine detecting. Note: another 'swiss army knife', the F-35, is also a very expensive failure for the Air Force, Navy and Marines.
The ships never really sailed successfully. Their sailors and officers had to spent almost all their time trying to fix the ships, and very little time actually sailing them. The parts, maintenance and many of the repairs were supplied or done by outside contractors often based in other parts of the country, or from foreign countries, so the ships were often stuck in port. This was an aspect of all of this which just made my eyes cross in disbelief. Our military is so insufficient it doesn't store parts and have maintenance workers at the bases in which the ships/airplanes/etc are stationed but gets parts and maintenance from areas of the country far away from the bases, but also outside the country!?! How the heck are they supposed to fight wars then? How?
Eventually the powers that be in the Navy realized this program was dumb, and tried to stop it. So Congress ordered 3 more LCS to be made! The Navy 'wound up with more ships than it wanted, at an estimated lifetime cost of $100 billion.' (quote from ProPublica article).
There are many more such stupid boondoggle idiot programs in the military (and other areas of the government), I know. But these articles by ProPublica really brought knowledge of such back to my mind. What can I do about it? I dunno. Sit back and enjoy the spectacle, I guess, and have another sip of my drink. Ohh, and get all my relatives to work for a defense company, if that work is not moved to another country.
It's been a busy week, so I don't have a lot to write more about. But I did want to highlight the 'little crappy ships'. Thanks for reading and here's the open thread - and remember, everything is interesting if you dive deep enough, so tell us about where you're diving!