After the Freedoms, the US Navy's Independence LCS are facing major failures

The more time passes, the more the US Navy's Littoral Combat Ship program, supposed to prefigure developments in littoral naval combat, seems to join the long list of technological and operational impasses which the Pentagon has made a specialty of over the past 30 years. After having, in 2014, abandoned the principle of combat module which was to allow the two Freedom and Independence classes constituting the program to have advanced operational flexibility by equipping themselves, according to needs, with anti-ship warfare capabilities, anti-submarine warfare, intelligence and electronic warfare or mine warfare, the US Navy staff has never ceased to try to reduce the number of ships to be built, realizing that these buildings no longer met the operational needs to deal with advanced navies like the Chinese fleet, but has come up against American senators and representatives each year who are strongly opposed to the reduction of the format initially planned.

In 2019, however, the US Navy managed to limit the number of ships to 52 to 38 ships, 19 of each class, and moved towards a new strategy, equipping 15 ships of each class with a specific warfare module. mines or anti-submarine warfare, the other buildings being reserved for testing and training purposes. At the same time, Admiral Gilday, Chief of Staff of the US Navy, decided to strengthen the operational and defensive capabilities of these ships, in particular by equipping them with NSM anti-ship missiles. However, this was not the end of the adventures for this program. Indeed, on this same date, appeared serious problems with the propulsion system employed by the Freedom-class LCS, leading to cascading failures as soon as the ships were deployed, leading the US Navy to request the withdrawal from active service of 9 of the 15 Freedom class LCS already produced in 2023, the replacement of the propulsion system being deemed too expensive for these ships already built, while the anti-submarine warfare module which was also to equip the ships was also abandoned.

Facing major problems with its Pump-jet propulsion system, the US Navy wants to retire 9 of its Freedom class LCS in 2023

In this context, the revelations made following an investigation carried out by the American site NavyTime would not make lie the famous law of Murphy. According to them, it is now the second class of the program, the Independence class, which is facing serious problems. Indeed, structural failures that led to the appearance of cricks forced the US Navy to prohibit these ships from setting sail beyond sea level 4, i.e. with hollows beyond 2,5 meters, and not to exceed the speed of 15 knots, even though the LCS bet a large part of their operational added value precisely on high speeds, between 35 and 40 knots. Major cricks have thus been observed on 6 of the first 10 Independence class LCS in service, which will require, according to the experts interviewed by the American site, major consolidation work that could immobilize the ships for a long period, and above all make them heavier. to the point of modifying its nautical qualities and therefore its potential speed.

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