Friday, October 19, 2007

Navy Chief "Committed" to LCS

The Weekly Standard blog, spoke to new Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead, concerning when the fleet would meet its target of 313 ships:

"With regard to the 313 ship shipbuilding plan, I consider that to be the floor. Because of my experiences as a fleet commander in both the Atlantic and the Pacific, knowing what the demands are out there, I think 313 is the minimum number, but I do like the balance that we have. The objective was to get to 313 by 2020. As you well know, our Littoral Combat Ship program has been slowed down a little bit, but I'm very committed to that program, very committed to the capability that we need, that the LCS will give us. So I'd say within a couple of years of that is the target that I will pursue."

I'm still going through the recently released Navy Maritime Strategy. After reading the whole document I came back with a better impression than my initial browsing. The plan seems very committed toward fighting terrorism and managing rogue states, plus defeating piracy and interdicting weapons proliferation on the high seas. For such a focused mission, we don't need huge destroyers and giant supercarriers, but littoral ships. With their new hull designs, the LCS will also be better equipped to chase diesel-electric subs (as the Strategy mentioned) in shallow seas. Risking big ships in such a dangerous duty can only lead to disaster, as the British discovered early on in World War 2.

Though Admiral Roughead's reasoning for standing by the LCS seems to be for keeping ship numbers high, I think the new stealthy and fast designs put forth by Lockheed and General Dynamics will institute a revolution in warfare. The obvious requirement to go to large numbers of small vessels is a must in this cruise missile age. Just as the Army belated saw the need for more boots on the ground in their various Middle East Wars, I am convinced that any ocean conflict involving precision missiles, nearly-invisible conventional subs, and old fashioned mines will drive the navy back to a traditional and less high tech fleet more equipped to fight an war of attrition at sea.