What Does an LCS Do?
Littoral Combat Ship Primer, Part 2
Last week we covered some basic facts about the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) platform and after finding out what littoral means you may have found yourself wondering, “But what does an LCS really do?”
It would seem that the shortest, possibly the best direct answer is, a lot. With that said, let’s look more closely what LCSs do and the mission packages that give them such versatility.
Both LCS variants can operate in a wide-range of environments- from open oceans to coastal waters- because they have a unique open-architecture design. Their seaframes can be outfitted with reconfigurable payloads, called mission modules. Those modules include mission systems and support equipment that can be changed out quickly. Combine these modules with a crew detachment and the platforms’ ability to support aviation assets and they become complete mission packages. They’re then able to conduct freedom of navigation operations, theater security cooperation operations, maritime law enforcement operations, maritime counter-piracy operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, search and rescue operations, maritime domain awareness patrols, and maritime security operations. And that’s all in addition to their primary Mine Counter Measures (MCM), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Surface Warfare (SUW) missions.
With the SUW Mission Package (SUW MP) an LCS can provide the capability to detect, classify, track, and engage multiple groups of small boats, and it can be configured with the Maritime Security Module for Maritime Interdiction Operations, as well as Visit, Board, Search and Seizure for drug and counter piracy operations. The LCSs speed, SUW MP capabilities, and manned and unmanned aviation assets, work together to extend the ship’s surveillance and attack potential.
The LCSs MCM MP provides mine detection, neutralization, and mine sweeping by utilizing both manned and unmanned vehicles, and can support joint operations conducted ahead of, or concurrent with, power projection forces.
Lastly the LCSs ASW MP is designed to provide ASW capabilities while operating in either deep or shallow littoral water environments. Operating in conjunction with other fleet assets makes it a force multiplier that specializes in providing first response littoral ASW capabilities. That includes ASW prosecution in shallow waters, barrier operations/sustainment of secure maneuver area, direct support to a carrier strike group, an expeditionary strike group, an amphibious ready group, a surface action group, or maritime prepositioning forces in a littoral environment. As well as the ability to act as a high value unit escort, and offer operational deception. With the versatility to carry out so many different missions, the ship of the future is here!
If you’d like to learn more about what the fleet’s LCSs are up to check out the the USS Freedom (LCS 1), USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), PCU Milwaukee (LCS 5), USS Independence (LCS 2), USS Coronado (LCS 4), or PCU Jackson (LCS 6).
PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 25, 2014) The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) provides a sea-going platform for a UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter from U.S. Army 25th Combat Aviation Brigade to conduct deck landing qualifications off the coast of Hawaii. Fort Worth departed its homeport of San Diego Nov. 17 for a 16-month rotational deployment to Southeast Asia in support of the Navy’s strategic rebalance to the Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Antonio P. Turretto Ramos/Released)