With the crack of a champagne bottle, a huge wave rises and the U.S.S. Billings launches into the sea. The Navy’s newest ship, a high-speed, incredibly maneuverable Littoral Combat Ship is finally ready to roll after a lengthy construction. The new $300 million LCS is gearing up for sea trials as it prepares for action, but it isn’t without its controversies.
Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ships are designed for coastal defense functions such as mine-clearing and anti-submarine missions. The downside of these pricey ships is that they only patrol the littoral zone, coastal areas which larger ships can’t access.
“The Freedom-variant LCS plays a critical role in the U.S. Navy’s fleet, and we are committed to getting Billings and her highly capable sister ships into combatant commanders’ hands as quickly as possible.”
– Joe North (President of Littoral Ships and Systems at Lockheed-Martin)
One of the most pressing concerns about the LCS is that there are those who don’t see the need for them and that they are just wasteful spending. They are not meant to directly engage hostile threats and report in to summon bigger ships, making them seem like glorified security guards. All that speed and maneuverability comes from their aluminum frames have been criticized for weak defenses and likelihood to start an aluminum fire.
Despite all the criticisms the Littoral Combat Ship Program is moving ahead with more units on the way. Where do you stand on the issue? Do we need more high-speed coastal patrols with a $300 million price tag?