Wednesday, February 6, 2013

More Speed!

Wake me up when the LCS program is about the mission, and not the features.
 The Navy’s fifth Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), Milwaukee, will be the first to benefit from new high-power density waterjets aimed at staving off rudder and propeller damage experienced on high-speed ships.

The product of an Office of Naval Research (ONR) Future Naval Capabilities (FNC) program, the waterjets arrived last month at the Marinette Marine shipyard in Wisconsin, where Milwaukee (LCS 5) is under construction.

“We believe these waterjets are the future,” said Dr. Ki-Han Kim, program manager in ONR’s Ship Systems and Engineering Research Division. “Anything that we can do to keep ships ready to go will ultimately benefit our warfighters.”

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert’s 2013-2017 Navigation Plan calls for fielding improved ships to support counterterrorism and irregular warfare missions at sea and ashore. The LCS will play a big role in the Navy’s plan as a modular, adaptable vessel for use against diesel submarines, littoral mines and attacks by small surface craft.
Hopefully Dr. Ki-Han Kim is talking specifically about waterjets being the future of LCS, and not the fleet. Here is the problem.

Waterjets are incredibly loud, as in they can be so loud that a ship with waterjets is probably going to significantly reduce the effectiveness of a bow sonar. For LCS, the point is mute, because there is no bow mounted sonar... and waterjets is why there never will be.

Now ONR is going to deliver super waterjets, which may increase the speed of LCS a knot or two, who knows. Here is the problem though - waterjets are still loud like a rock concert, and one of the primary missions of the LCS is to hunt littoral submarines.

When will this program start being about mission and stop being about features?

If I was a submarine captain, I am pretty sure the safest place in blue water is going to be underneath a Littoral Combat Ship on diesels, because not only can the ship not hear or detect the submarine, but nobody else is going to hear a thing except these super awesome waterjets. Just saying.

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