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Re-addressing common ships and systems


Army.ca Relic
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Notwithstanding the problems that Lockheed Martin appears to be having with their design for the LCS I wonder if their isn't something that can be taken from the programme. 

Modularity is the watchword on the programme and that seems likely to be what has given L-M its problems.  Trying to balance different systems on a single fulcrum (the keel) while maintaining high speed and long range.  Given that the trimaran configuration regularly moves variable loads of trucks, buses, cars various military kit over the requisite ranges and at 40+ knots I am inclined to believe the problem is with the hull form and not the modular concept.

What I am wondering is if there isn't some way to amalgamate the following observations:

1.  The Scandinavians are building Merchant and Naval vessels to a common DNV (Det Norske Veritas) standard
2.  The Royal Navy and Lloyd's have likewise agreed on Lloyd's Naval Rules which allow RN operational vessels to take advantage of lessons learned by civilians while still maintaining safe hulls and machinery.
3.  The Danes pioneered building vessels that could swap out weapons systems, including the main gun.
4.  The Norwegians adopted the same strategy for their Coast Guard Ice Breaker Svalbard so that it could perform both as an unthreatening civil vessel and an operational vessel capable of defending itself.
5.  The LCS programme essentially supplies a hull, machinery, crew quarters, storage space and a landing deck on a platform to which a defensive suite is added along with one or more of a selection of "offensive" suites (Mine Warfare, Anti-Sub, Surface)

Here's the question.....Is it possible to build three separate platforms, possibly four and then take advantage of the modular system to further enhance flexibility?

Is it possible to consider building three hulls, the LCS high speed at 2,500 tonnes, the Svalbard type Ice Breaker at 6,000 tonnes and the JSS/BHS type at 25,000 tonnes and then supply modular suites that can be added to the hulls?

For instance the LCS defensive suite is to consist of :

Sensors Sea Giraffe Radar
Mk 15 Phalanx radar & IR sensors
Mine avoidance sonar
Defensive Aids 2x3 SRBOC Chaff/Flare dispensers
2x2 Nulka Decoy Launchers
2x1 Torpedo Decoy Launchers
Missiles 1x21 RIM-116 RAM (9.1 kg Warhead @ 9 km)
Guns 1x Bofors 57mm
2x 12.7mm (presumably in RWS mounts with Optics)

Would this be a suitable defensive suite for an Arctic Patrol Vessel in an operational environment as well as the JSS and the BHS?

Is it possible to contemplate building LCS hulls not just for the Navy and Reserve but also for the RCMP and Fisheries that are normally unarmed but could be armed in the same fashion the Danes do when their is an operational need?  Then have the hulls, and the weapons, manned by reservists that are manning the weapons they train on in garrison in Calgary and Thunder Bay.
Likewise for the Arctic Patrol Vessel, lets assume a buy of 6 hulls.  Suppose 4 our 5 of those hulls went to Coast Guard unarmed for northern duties with 1 or 2 being held by the Naval Reserve for training and emergency use.   The defensive suite could be put on board all 6 vessels as situations warrant and the Coast Guard crew replaced by Reservists (including Coast Guard personnel that are also enrolled in the Reserve).

For the BHS use the JSS hull used by the Regs but without all the RAS gear and keep it as a floating hotel and warehouse with a fly-off deck, tied up alongside.   Minimize the capital costs and maximize the transportation capability and add on the Reserve Manned defensive suite used on the LCS and the APV.

The JSS needless to say would be an all regular affair.

The other modules available to the LCS incorporate a diesel powered semi-submersible for recce and towing sonar arrays,   an autonomous underwater robot for sonar surveys, 3 Fire Scout remote controlled helicopters with Electro-Optical systems and the ability to lift a small number of 70mm missiles as well as act as over the horizon targeting and relay systems, and two remote controlled launches armed with Remote Weapons Systems.  All this in addition to 2 MH-60 Seahawk helicopters and an RHIB launch.

It strikes me that ALL of these modules are compatible with ALL of the platforms and on the larger platforms all the modules could be carried simultaneously.  Thus an APV or the BHS  (not to mention the JSS) could all carry 3 Fire Scouts helicopters with missiles, 2 armed launches, 1 diesel powered semi-submersible and an autonomous submersible.  This would be a useful picket force for self defence in an operational zone BUT all of those recce assets would seem to be particularly helpful to the RCMP and the Coast Guard in civilian applications as well.  Basically by incorporating those modules into the civil fleet then you reduce the delta between civil and military operations. 

Military operations then refer only to those circumstances where the Guns are mounted (although the mounties and fisheries might be happy to have the 50s and maybe even a missile or two for the Fire Scouts) or when operations such as mine warfare, anti-submarine tasks or surface warfare are required.  Then the 57 goes aboard along with the NLOS-LS and the crews are swapped out.

That way the number of hulls can be increased, civilians handle civilian tasks and sailors handle military tasks.  Hulls actually are relatively inexpensive.  It is the systems that cost the money.

By purchasing this way then it means that it is not necessary to buy systems for every vessel unless the threat level demands them but with common systems across the fleet, including with the Reserves then manning issues would be improved.

With any luck at all this would leave the Regs with more money in the kitty to focus on vessels like the Dutch 7 Province Command and Air Defence Frigates and the JSS, and perhaps a small flotilla of LCS for expeditionary work.  As well as submarines.

By the way the minimum crew on the LCS is 15.  With module(s) on board provision is made for about 50 personnel.   Likewise the Svalbard has a minimum crew of about 50 with room for approximately another hundred or so passengers.  Civil vessels transporting cargo, like the BHS, regularly conduct global operations with crews of 20-30 carrying much bigger cargoes.

I understand what everybody has said about damage control and the need for large crews but it seems we can't recruit large crews and we still need the same number or ships.  Technology allows us to man more ships with fewer people.  Shouldn't we be taking advantage of that?