What you need to know about the next fleet of supercruisers
Posted On August 2, 2021
A major change in the submarine design of the U.S. Navy will have its biggest impact on the cost of its submarines.
The USS Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) will become the first new submarine since the decommissioning of the USS Saratoga in 2014.
It’s expected to be fully commissioned in 2023.
“The LCS represents a significant step forward in our submarine force design and program modernization, and the LCS will have a major impact on our ability to meet the evolving needs of our naval forces,” said Navy Vice Admiral Mark Norman, chief of naval operations.
The Littora’s design is based on the original USS Saronoga design but incorporates some significant changes, including a new design deck and the removal of the ship’s main gun.
That changes the way the ship is designed, says Rear Admiral Michael A. Lauterbach, the Navy’s chief of staff.
“It’s very different from what we’ve done on the ship,” he said.
The LCS will be a much smaller ship than the ship that was built to carry the Saratogas nuclear-powered submarine.
Instead of a massive two-masted, four-deck ship, the LCS is designed to have a two- or three-deck structure.
It has more room for crew and equipment, but that’s about it.
The new design is a result of extensive design and engineering work that included the work of Navy officials, Lautnerbach said.
He declined to say when the LCS could enter service, but he said the ship will be ready for deployment “in 2023.”
The LCS, which is about 60 feet long and has a displacement of more than 300,000 tons, is expected to have two-thirds the fuel capacity of the Saronogas, and could have a cruising speed of nearly 1,000 knots.
The Navy expects the ship to have an operational range of 2,000 nautical miles and carry about 30 nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, and a payload capacity of 20,000 pounds of ordnance.
The $7 billion ship is being built by Lockheed Martin Corp. The design of this ship has been underway for more than a decade, and it has had a lot of work to do.
It is the most complex and costly of its kind in the Navy.
“There is not a lot to it.
It really is a large-scale engineering effort,” said Rear Admiral John D. Mazzotti, the chief of Naval Operations.
“And that’s why the Navy is very proud of this effort.”
But it has also been beset with design challenges, including design issues with the new ship’s hull.
The ship has to accommodate the new hull’s large number of nuclear warheads, which will allow it to deliver more nuclear weapons at a greater range.
That’s one of the challenges with the LCS.
The U.N. arms embargo prohibits the United States from providing missile-launching pods to its nuclear-armed submarines.
But the Navy says it will supply the pods and other systems needed to carry them, such as the navigation system and sensors that monitor the ship.
It will also be able to make those changes on its own.
The changes that have been made to the ship include adding more forward-facing turrets, and some structural changes, as well as adding more fuel tanks and new engine parts.
“We’ve had a tremendous amount of work done in this process to get to this point,” Mazziotti said.
In the end, the changes will require about $6 billion worth of modifications to the LCS, and about $2 billion more in maintenance and engineering, including upgrades to the vessel’s fuel tanks, he said, adding that those upgrades will be completed before the ship enters service.
The cost of the changes could increase to about $7.5 billion, he estimated.
That includes the $5 billion cost of overhauling the ship itself, which the Navy has already started doing, Mazzutti said, but it’s unclear how much longer it will take.
He said the Navy wants to avoid another major overhaul for the ship, and there is no timetable for the project.
The work will cost the Navy about $30 billion, and that includes about $15 billion for the work done on that ship, which Mazzetti estimated will take 10 to 15 years.
“I think that’s a pretty high estimate, because I don’t know how long this will take to complete,” he told reporters.
“But it’s a significant amount of money, and I think that the Navy will make sure it gets done, and we will do it on schedule.”
A new, larger ship will also require more fuel.
The United States has to buy about 3.5 million gallons of diesel per day for the ships main engine, which powers the ship and its nuclear subs.
The extra fuel would add about 10 million gallons to that, meaning the Navy would need to buy nearly 5 million gallons per day.