Saturday, June 18, 2011

GD-Austal variant of Littoral Combat Ship battling massive corrosion

If you thought the issues with the Lockheed Martin variant of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) were ugly, ponder the following. According to this post from the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), Bloomberg news will report that the General Dynamics-Austal variant of the LCS has suffered massive corrosion problems.

The “aggressive” corrosion was found in the propulsion areas of USS Independence. To permanently repair the corrosion the ship will have to be dry-docked and have its’ water-jet propulsion system removed, according to a written statement the Navy provided to Congressional appropriations committees and Bloomberg News.

This is simply phenomenal considering that the ship completed its maiden voyage in April 2010, just fourteen months ago. This is, however, inline with the LCS programs’ history of problems and comes on the heels of major cost overruns, which we documented just two weeks ago. This will likely add to development costs that have already increased 287 percent from baseline estimates, and may add to annual operating costs, already over $36 million per ship, if such aggressive corrosion cannot be prevented.

The LCS program is a complete waste. And great work to the Navy for selecting both vendors in a competitive bid. Lunacy.

The LCS won’t be able to fight its way out of a paper bag and will end up getting a lot of sailors killed.

And yes Mr. Work, the Navy does need a new frigate. One that is not gold-plated, doesn’t burn much fuel and is simple as part of its core design. The wasteful and useless LCS is occupying shipbuilding skills that could be put to better use making warships we actually need.

We have admirals with very poor vision of what a Navy should be. That and we need to cut the budget. Cancelling the LCS program should be an easy decision.

Over to you; LCS cheerleaders.


Pete said...


As in most things to do with US and Australian defence the efficiency and quality of weapons are only one consideration.

Partly redressing Australia's weapon trade imbalance with the US (aka offsets) may be the main consideration with this part Austal project.

Both Australia and the US are in the game of spending defence money to maintain defence industries and for electoral success.

Any expectation that efficiency will be valued is doomed to eternal frustration and runs particularly foul of naval careerism :)


Goldeel1 said...

I am at a complete loss to explain how corrosion could be that bad, that quick. It certainly has nothing to do with the use of aluminium, this has been used extensively for years in shipbuilding without any major problems. I doubt it has anything to do with Austal as they are one of the foremost users and experts in design and use of aluminium alloys in ship construction in the world. Further the material has been widely used over the last 30-40 years in naval construction and used in dissimilar material construction (ie. steel hull and aluminium superstructures) as well. All I can say is, did someone forget about galvanic corrosion, the scale of nobility and sacrificial zinc anodes?

Ely said...

Be interesting to see what analysis tells us. Interesting overview here
This demonstrates emergent USN thinking and management methods in the fleet particularly with new materials. Corrosion in the propulsion area likely combination of stress/cracking/corrosion and marine corrosion of stainless steel water jet components is my guess. The builders and tech authority would wish to be sure of what is occuring and hopefully we are seeing a conservative approach to T and E of a new class. The unsightly corrosion of the uppers is possibly associated with trial of new protective coatings that dont appear to be doing that well.I doubt that the ships coy is permitted to touch it past fresh water wash down.