Tony Koshy, an MSc student studying Naval Architecture at UCL Mechanical Engineering has been awarded a ?10,000 scholarship by the Lloyd’s Register Educational Trust (LRET). Since 2000, the LRET has awarded an annual ship design scholarship to a UCL student on the MSc course in Naval Architecture or Marine Engineering.
The award was given during a day of presentations from the UCL Ship Design Exercise, an activity undertaken by small teams of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering students as part of their MSc courses. Dr Richard Bucknall, who chairs UCL’s Lloyd’s Register Educational Trust Selection Board commented: “The LRET Scholarship offers a great opportunity for Naval Architecture or Marine Engineering MSc students to study on prestigious masters courses at UCL.
UCL Mechanical Engineering was the first department of its kind in the UK and has established a reputation for internationally leading research and quality teaching. Exploit simplicity, numbers, the pace of technology development in electronics and robotics, and fast reconfiguration.
Ultimately, the US Navy is trying to replace 56 vessels: 30 FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry Class frigates, 14 MCM Avenger Class mine countermeasures vessels, and 12 MHC-51 Osprey Class coastal mine hunters. The LCS requirement has been identified as part of a broader surface combatant force transformation strategy, which recognizes that many future threats are spawning in regions with shallow seas, where the ability to operate near-shore and even in rivers will be vital for mission success. Given the diversity of possible missions in the shallow-water and near-shore littoral zones, and the potential threats from forces on land, any ship designed for these tasks must be both versatile and stealthy. While a ship’s hull and design makes a number of its performance parameters difficult to change, the Americans believed they may have a solution that lets them upgrade sensors and key systems. There are currently 2 different LCS designs being produced and procured as part of the competition. Team Lockheed Martin’s LCS-1 Freedom Class offers a proven high-speed semi-planing monohull, based on Fincantieri designs that have set trans-Atlantic speed records. The ships have a smaller flight deck than the Independence Class at 5,200 square feet, but a larger 4,680 square foot helicopter hangar.
The Independence Class will carry a General Dynamics designed combat system, and standard LCS weapon fittings.
The initial teaming arrangement was led by General Dynamics Bath Iron Works shipbuilder as prime integrator, with Austal of Mobile, AL (a subsidiary of Austal Ships of Australia) as the main design partner and ship-building site. There are concerns that this is a design weakness, leaving the LCS crew at the edge of its capabilities to just run the ship, with insufficient on-board maintenance capabilities, and too little left over for contingencies such as boarding and search, damage control, illnesses, etc.
The cost and size of LCS ships are now comparable to other countries’ high-end naval frigates. That armament is closer to a support vessel than a naval surface combatant, and larger high-speed support designs like the JHSV would offer far more mission module space for reconfigurable specialty support ships. The LCS weapons array also compares unfavorably with comparable-sized frigates that can perform the full array of anti-submarine, fleet air defense, and naval combat roles.
It’s telling that brochures for the International LCS versions offered by each team feature a major radar capability boost via the small SPY-1F AEGIS system or other radar upgrade, and are armed with torpedo tubes, anti-ship missiles and vertical-launch system (VLS) cells.
The emerging scenario in the USA is a cost for the base ships that continues to hover around $400-500 million each, plus weapons, electronics, and mission modules that bring the price per fully-equipped ship to $450-600 million, even under the proposed new fixed-price contract. Especially if the low end has grown to a cost level that makes it equivalent to other countries’ major surface combatants, while falling short on key capabilities that will be required in the absence of higher-end ships. The US Navy’s current shipbuilding plan envisions building 32 littoral combat ships and 64 mission modules until about 2040. It’s normal for programs to change elements like numbers ordered, but not to change the entire buy strategy. By the end of FY 2013, the program is expected to be at about a quarter of total procurement, in units ordered and dollars spent.
Once one steps beyond small patrol craft, growing capabilities have made frigate-sized vessels the most common naval export around the globe. The other aspect worth noting is the Littoral Combat Ship’s failure to close any export sales over 7+ years. Israel did step up in July 2008, and confirmed its request for an LCS-I based on Team Lockheed’s design.
Meanwhile, designs like the German MEKO family, the multi-role Franco-Italian FREMM, the modular-construction Dutch Sigma class, and even refurbished 1980s-era NATO frigates continue to find buyers around the world. Unless otherwise noted, all contracts are issued by the USA’s Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC. Austal USA laid the keel for the USS Omaha (LCS 12), the latest and sixth littoral combat ship in the Independence class. Predictably the SSCs will have to be both more survivable and better armed, since these points are among the weaknesses most often pointed out by LCS detractors. The armed helicopter and rotorcraft are not new, and 25mm guns are not going to make much of a difference except against the smallest threats. The paper believes that LCS ships should be forward based abroad, given their limited range and low ability to maintain themselves at sea. The paper recommends that the Navy pick 1 existing LCS design to convert to the SSC, adding a vertical launch system and retrofitting VLS to some of the Flight 0 ships as well. AESA radars offers a 2x-3x range or resolution boost compared to PESA technologies, and GaN circuits offer further improvements to a radar’s power to performance ratio. There’s talk of moving to a single LCS radar, and maybe even a single combat system for the entire class. Detroit will continue to undergo outfitting and testing at Marinette until her expected delivery to the Navy in late 2015. Work will be performed in Mobile, AL (60%), and Pittsfield, MA (40%), and work is expected to be complete in October 2015 (N00024-11-C-2301). Awarded on academic merit, the funds initially go towards course fees, with the remainder paid directly to the student. Following a customer’s outline requirements, the teams design ships using a suite of preliminary design computer programs. Students who receive the LRET Scholarship are outstanding scholars chosen for their commitment and endeavour and who are judged to make a significant contribution to the field in the years ahead.  Mr Koshy is an excellent student who follows in the steps of other outstanding scholars.


The Littoral OP Tech East conference is the first of its kind to be held in Asia, and looks at fostering increased innovation and creation of solutions to both new and old problems. That was the US Navy’s idea for the low-end backbone of its future surface combatant fleet. In practice, the Navy hasn’t been able to reconcile what they wanted with the capabilities needed to perform primary naval missions, or with what could be delivered for the sums available. It also requires intelligence gathering and scouting, some ground combat support capabilities, and the ability to act as a local command node, sharing tactical information with other Navy aircraft, ships, submarines, and joint units.
Denmark’s Standard Flex 300 corvettes pioneered a revolutionary approach of swappable mission modules, based on ISO containers. One option is technology-based, via spiral development that focuses on rapid insertions of new equipment. The design will use the firm’s COMBATSS-21 combat system as the fighting electronic heart of the ship, has shock-hardened the engine systems, and uses a combination of a steel hull and aluminum superstructure. It offers an especially large flight deck (7,300 square feet) and internal mission volume (15,200 square feet mission bay) for its size, with a 3,500 square foot helicopter hangar. The RAM defensive missile launcher sacrifices some size, but the 11-round SeaRAM is a self-contained unit with its own radar.
That alliance was broken by the requirements of the 2010 RFP, which demanded a 2nd builder for the designs that was unaffiliated with the first. They might well be classified as frigates, were it not for their shallow water design and employment. The LCS Mission Modules Program Office (PMS 420) packages a variety of technologies to these ends, many of which are produced by other program offices and delivered as elements of a particular mission module.
As the US Navy’s primary low-end vessels in the future fleet, they will be expected to perform many of the same roles. Unfortunately, many nations field 90’+ Fast Attack Craft equipped with anti-ship missiles.
One is the slim margins created by a very small crew, leaving little margin for tasks like damage control if automated systems are damaged or fail. The LCS-1 Freedom Class uses an aluminum superstructure, while the LCS-2 Independence Class is primarily an aluminum design. The Littoral Combat Ship program has shifted its entire buy strategy several times during its short lifetime – a sorry sequence of orders, budgets not spent, contract cancellations, etc. After buying 4 ships and taking bids under their 2009 revised strategy, the US Navy went to Congress and asked for permission to accept both 10-ship bids, buying 20 ships for a total advertised price that was about the same as the estimates for the 15 ships they had wanted. Upgraded radars range from CEAFAR active-array radars on smaller ships, to the option of Lockheed’s SPY-1F for the largest variant. At present, both LCS designs have received preliminary export inquiries, but Israel and Thailand are the only cases where it has gone farther than that. The funds will allow for the completion of the USS Cooperstown, the 29th LCS warship in service, and follows the $79 million granted by congress in March towards the construction. November 20 saw the USS Omaha enter the water in Mobile, Alabama and the USS Milwawkee was commissioned the following day by the Mayor of Milwawkee. With the Brookings Institution rightly pointing out that the LCS do not currently possess the power-projection capabilities recently demonstrated by Russia’s Caspian Sea fleet, the USN is likely looking to bolt-on additional muscle to the fleet following the cancellation of the Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) missile in April 2010. If lawmakers agree to the sale, a Foreign Military Sales contract can be drafted, with this likely to be signed early next year. The Freedom-class vessel is the third of eight to be manufactured by Lockheed Martin, with the ship now scheduled for commissioning on 21 November. The BAE Systems Mk 110 gun equips the Navy’s LCS fleet as standard, with the Mark 46 forming part of the surface warfare (SuW) module. Austal christened LCS 8 (the USS Montgomery) in November 2014, with LCS 9 the fifth of eight LCS timetabled for construction by Lockheed Martin. LCS 6 is the third Independence-class to be built by Austal, which shares the construction of the LCS program with Lockheed Martin under a $3.5 billion ten-ship block buy awarded in December 2010. Austal shares the construction of the LCS program with Lockheed Martin under a $3.5 billion ten-ship block buy awarded in December 2010.
By omission, mine warfare seems out, since modular requirements are maintained solely for capabilities against surface ships and submarines.
The rest is getting SSCs closer to how LCS has been pitched to export prospects, and to what even smaller ships pack in foreign fleets. The US Navy christens the Independence Class LCS 8 Montgomery, in a ceremony at Austal USA’s Mobile, AL shipyard. Airbus North America announces that Freedom Class ships will have a new and improved radar, beginning with LCS 17.
The TRS-3D was seen as being a step behind the LCS-2 Independence Class’ Sea Giraffe AMB, which can also backtrack incoming artillery to its origin point.
The US Navy christens and side-launches trhe Freedom Class LCS 7 Detroit, in a ceremony at Marinette Marine Shipyard, WI. Austal USA, LLC in Mobile, AL receives an $8.4 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise an option for Core LCS-2 Independence Class Services.
More detailed design work is then carried out with a specialised computer-aided design program for ships (PARAMARINE). Speakers stressed the importance of the development of new war-fighting concepts and increased operational capabilities of fleets. The LCS program has changed its fundamental acquisition plan 4 times since 2005, and canceled contracts with both competing teams during this period, without escaping any of its fundamental issues.
Meanwhile, the reality of ships that are expected to remain in service for over 30 years gives rise to a need for electronic longevity. This creates a long series of slight improvements in the mission modules, and hence the ship’s capabilities.
USS Freedom has faced persistent reports of weight and stability issues, however, which required additional bolt-on buoyancy fittings at its stern.


The hull is aluminum, but the trimaran design offers additional stability options, and may help the ship survive side hits. For whatever reason, high speed has also been identified as an important ship characteristic. LCSs were intended to operate with a core crew of 40 (now 50) sailors, plus a mission module detachment of 15 and an aviation detachment of 25. Costs per module have gone down over time, but that hasn’t been from any genius in planning and fielding. While both ships have had to certify to the same fire-proofing standards asked of other ships, aluminum conducts heat very well, and melts or deforms easily. Because these ships are assumed to have a service life of 25 years, the 10 or fewer ships bought from 2036 – 2040 would be replacements for the original ships of class. The GAO and CBO both have doubts about those estimates, in part because the Navy is still changing the designs; but the contracts were issued at the end of December 2010. Fixed weapons include torpedo tubes and 8 Harpoon missiles, though some exhibit models have used 12 Kongsberg NSMs. As noted above, similar changes have been a common theme among international LCS offerings, but an estimated ship cost of over $700 million eventually pushed Israel to rethink its plans.
There are now five LCS class ships operational and they are being completed at an average of four per year. With the USS Coronado and USS Freedom scheduled for deployment next year, a Request for Proposals is expected by the end of this year.
The Saudis have previously requested the ability for their LCS vessels to launch Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) air defense missiles but are thought to have dropped previous plans to procure the Aegis combat system owing to cost.
The ship will now undergo testing and equipment fitting before being delivered to the Navy later this year. The company laid the keel for the fourteenth LCS (USS Manchester) in late June this year, having already delivered two Independence-class vessels.
Beyond that, the Navy still has to pin down many specifics, discuss crew size, or explain how they will contain costs. At minimum, an SSC derived from the LCS would need to carry the ASW mission package full-time, and incorporate longer-range missile capabilities via a vertical launch system.
The ship was launched in August 2014, and is making preparations for trials and delivery in late summer 2015.
They’ll assess engineering and production challenges, evaluate costs and schedule risks for engineering change proposals, and keep up class baseline documentation.
The meeting comes at a time when the US navy and its allies are looking to incorporate wider capabilities for all ships in its fleets and the rolling out of the new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) class warship throughout various theatres. These can handle any vertically-launched system in the fleet, including SM-3 anti-ballistic missile interceptors, and Tomahawk long-range precision attack missiles. Each ship has a Blue crew and a Gold crew, which will shift to 3 crews over time that can deploy in 4-month rotations. Even so, LCS ships can be expected to perform the mine countermeasures role very well, and the frigates’ traditional anti-submarine role reasonably well, thanks to their helicopters, array of robots, and rapidly upgradeable systems.
The original concept for LCS was a ship whose damage resistance could save the crew, but not the ship, in the event if a significant strike. Even as overall American procurement trends make LCS ships the most common form of US naval power. This contrasts with the original hope of $22 billion total costs for 55 ships and 165 mission modules, at $400 million per ship ($220M construction + (3 x $60M) mission module options). Ship construction supervision was removed from PEO Ships, while mission module supervision was removed from PEO Littoral and Mine Warfare (PEO LMW), which was dissolved.
Each contractor would get 1 initial ship order, then 9 more options, with the ship purchases spread across FY 2010-2011 (1 per year for each contractor); then FY 2012-2015 inclusive (2 per year for each contractor). Concept diagrams also show between 4-48 VLS cells, some of which are full strike-length size. That country is now pursuing cheaper options based on Blohm + Voss’ MEKO family of corvettes and frigates, or South Korean designs. It is hoped that by 2018, 38 of the ships will have undergone construction in only 13 years and will be operating in shallow and coastal waters throughout the world.
That would take place in order to free up VLS cells for long-range offensive surface attack, anti-submarine, and air-denial weapons. The reality is that the cost is inevitably higher than the $515 million for an LCS with the ASW package, but the Navy isn’t planning for any increase as it plans for 20 SSC ships.
This is normal, and involves deferred design changes that have been identified during the construction period, before the post-delivery test and trials.
This public-access FOCUS article offer a wealth of research material, alongside looks at the LCS program’s designs, industry teams procurement plans, military controversies, budgets and contracts. The 2nd benefit is cost-related, since upgrades require far less work and cost to install when mission technologies evolve.
That was upgraded slightly to potentially saving the crew and the ship, but not continuing to fight while doing so. The US Navy has already sagged to under 300 ships, and unless major changes in course lie ahead for its budget or its chosen designs, the total number of ships will sink farther.
This is so even though the FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry Class, which was developed in the 1980s as a similar sort of budget frigate platform, would cost $774 million in adjusted modern dollars. As the Exocet missile strikes on the HMS Sheffield (sank) and USS Stark (survived, barely) proved, even steel warships designed to keep fighting after a strike may find it challenging to meet their design specifications. The Navy won’t get 20 SSCs, which is one more reason to retrofit VLS cells on Flight 0 LCS ships.



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