LCS Council: Where We Stand and the Way Ahead

In a recent memo to the Chief of Naval Operations, the Director, Navy Staff, Vice Adm. Richard W. Hunt provided an update on the progress of the LCS Council and outlined the council’s way ahead, including a recommendation that the council remain in place to monitor and provide oversight of the LCS program.

Specific achievements attributable to the LCS Council, which has completed all tasks assigned by the CNO in their initial charter, include:

  • A Plan of Action and Milestones (POAM) to ensure LCS meets assigned capabilities and missions has been developed
  • LCS is on a course to evolve, improve and ultimately deliver critical combat power to the Navy
  • An LCS program review has been conducted
  • USS Freedom (LCS 1) is on schedule to deploy in March
  • Adjustments to manpower, training, maintenance and seaframe have been made to ensure program success

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In a telephone interview conducted Feb. 21, Vice Adm. Hunt described the council’s purpose.

“(The LCS Council was formed) to take a good hard look at the program itself, understand what was going on regarding the capabilities and missions we were trying to get to, as well as be empowered to boldly act and make changes where necessary.”

Changes recommended by the council have already led to significant progress including the groundbreaking maiden deployment of USS Freedom, but, according to Hunt, the future holds further promise under the LCS Council’s guidance.

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In his memo to the CNO, Hunt describes the continued need for the LCS Council.

“The cooperative senior level focus and unified direction across the acquisition, requirements, and Fleet enterprises has had a positive impact throughout the LCS program and has reached our deckplate Sailors. I highly recommend the LCS Council remain in place to monitor and provide oversight to POAM execution and continue its leadership…”

Areas targeted as continued focus items for the LCS Council include:

  • POAM execution
  • Mission module reviews
  • Seaframe modification based on commonality and reliability reviews
  • Review and incorporation of USS Freedom “lessons learned”
  • Positioning LCS at leading edge of weapons and sensor technology development, expanding its capabilities beyond three mission packages
  • Continued improvement in managing Total Ownership Costs

During the interview, Hunt also addressed LCS’s immediate future.

“We are demonstrating an improved product on an almost weekly basis as we move forward with this. I am very optimistic that Freedom is going to get out there, deploy on time and operate exceptionally well. I think we’re going to learn a lot every day (during Freedom’s deployment) and what we learn is going to come back and change things. I think it will drive material change on the ships. I think it will inform and perhaps change future mission modules beyond just the surface modules (Freedom) is carrying with her as she does this first deployment. Certainly there will be operational changes based on how she interacts with other navies in the Western Pacific and how she operates with the U.S. Navy for the occasions where she gets together with strike groups or amphibious ships during the deployment. This is going to be a really exciting and good time and, I think, a pivotal time as we move forward in the program. I have every confidence of success as we move forward.”

LCS is one of the Navy’s most talked about warfighting platforms. What are your thoughts on this fast, agile and adaptable surface combatant?