Navy Takes Delivery on Super-Destroyer, Pushes Up Schedule for LCS “Frigate”
On May 20, the US Navy took delivery of the USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000), the first of a class of destroyers designed to take on the role once served by battleships. As the Navy prepares to commission the Zumwalt, the first of three ships from the $22 billion (£15 billion) DDG-1000 program, the service is accelerating its plans to produce 14 smaller ships—frigates that were ordered to be built by the Pentagon instead of the last set of the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ships.
The LCS program has experienced a number of glitches over its lifetime—canceled weapons systems, mine-hunting systems that can’t pass acceptance tests, failures of gears aboard two ships that left them stranded, and the realization that no one asked for hull corrosion protection on one variant.
The biggest problem the LCS faces, however, is that its capabilities that do work match up against a very specific class of adversary: something on the level of 1990s-era Iranian Revolutionary Guard Navy patrol boats and suicide speedboats. And with the rise of China’s blue-water navy and the growing tensions over claims in the South China Sea, the LCS is facing missions where the threat will be beyond its current capabilities.