15 Years and Billions in Waste: Navy Still Struggles With Littoral Combat Ships

Small but costly ships are a solution looking for a problem

Some 15 years ago, the US Navy decided that the future was going to be driven by quantity over quality. The answer was the Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) program, wherein the US built a number of ships meant for hugging coastlines, and sent them forth on a nebulous round of missions.

With hopes of them being useful for something, and an ambitious export sales effort, the Navy was upbeat in early years, and it took almost a decade to start admitting that they’d wasted billions of dollars on the program.

15 years and $16 billion in ships later, officials are looking at the LCS, which the sailors joke stands for “little crappy ships,” and a new round of naval missions against China and Russia, who each have proper full-sized ships of their own.

So now, the Navy is once again asking what those ships are supposed to be for. If they were ill-suited to the mission they had, they are totally incapable of tackling what missions they might have tomorrow. Costs for upkeep will fast grow from $16 billion already spent to $61 billion going forward.

They won’t be a costly failure forever, however. The ships are meant to last 25 years, but some of them. including the 7-year-old USS Coronado, are to be decommissioned in the next year or two.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.