The chief of naval operations (CNO) established a board known as the LCS Council Aug. 22 made up of four Navy vice admirals to oversee continued fleet testing and introduction of littoral combat ship (LCS) sea frames, mission modules, and mission packages.
Adm. Jonathan Greenert designated Vice Adm. Rick Hunt, director of the Navy Staff, as the council’s chairman. Other officers on the council include Vice Adm. Mark Skinner, Principal Military Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition; Vice Adm. Tom Copeman, commander, Naval Surface Forces; and Vice Adm. Kevin McCoy, commander, Naval Sea Systems Command.
The focus of the LCS Council will first be to develop a class-wide plan of action to address the areas identified as needing improvement in recent assessments and reviews. The plan is expected to be implemented by Jan. 31, 2013.
“Addressing challenges identified by these studies, on the timeline we require, necessitates the establishment of an empowered council to drive action across acquisition, requirements and fleet enterprises of the Navy,” said Greenert.
It is expected that issues will arise in any first-of-class shipbuilding program. Navy ships are designed with test and trial periods to ensure everything is working correctly, and repairs can be made, if required. That approach also allows for the incorporation of lessons learned into the follow-on ships before they’re delivered.
“I am confident we are on a path of success for LCS,” said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. “This council will continue to unify our efforts to implement operational lessons learned from our research and development ships to further ensure successful fleet integration.”
As first-of-class research and development (R&D) ships, LCS 1 and LCS 2 have provided significant lessons learned in the test and evaluation process. Those lessons learned have led to design and production improvements on follow-on ships.
“All Navy combat ships, even test and evaluation platforms, must be ready to meet assigned missions starting with the first day of active service – LCS is no exception,” said Greenert.
Navy efforts are now focused on transitioning from testing initial R&D ships to operationally employing LCS and ensuring the Navy is prepared to man, train, and equip the class in the most efficient and effective manner.
Still, it is expected that LCS 1 and LCS 2 will continue to provide lessons learned well into the future. The LCS council will use a comprehensive review process to critically examine areas that need to be addressed before LCS deploys to Singapore next spring, to determine what areas need to be studied closer during that deployment, as well as identify what issues need a longer-term look.
World Maritime Staff, August 24, 2012; Image: US Navy