Page 10: of Maritime Reporter Magazine (February 2003)

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Littoral Combat Ship Takes One Step Closer to Reality

The push for a new class of U.S. Navy ships, vessels able to operate in shallow draft, near to shore environments, has taken a step closer to reality. The Navy is currently reviewing plans from half a dozen teams, and is expected next month to award additional dollars to three teams for further refinement.

Current plans call for a fleet of between 50 and 70 vessels — smaller, faster and considerably cheaper than ships built for today's Navy — ready for production in the next few years.

The concept for Littoral Combat

Ships, or LCS, is hardly new, and was a topic of hot debate at the AFCEA West 2003 exhibition and conference. With a distinguished and varied panel of

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Admirals and Generals, and a packed crowd including a cross section from the World War II generation to

Generation X, the topic "What Do We

Want Our Ships To Do?" was debated, oftentimes in a heated fashion.

Moderated by Anteon's Dr. Scott C.

Truver and discussed by many, including VADM Alexander

Krekich. USN (Ret), President and

CEO of Norfolk Shipyard and

Drydock Corp., and RADM George

R. Worthington, USN (Ret), former

Commander, Naval Special Warfare

Command, the discussion started and ended with LCS ... the Littoral

Combat Ship. Just last month

Lockheed Martin and Blohm + Voss announced an agreement (signing pic- tured above) to work together in pro- viding the U.S. Navy with a Littoral

Combat Ship (LCS) solution capable of meeting the stated requirements of speed, range, payload, cost, capability, survivability and supportability. The agreement, in the form of a memoran- dum of understanding, calls for a con- tinuance of the relationship estab- lished between both companies for the

Navy's ongoing Ship Concept Studies.

LCS, a transformational new ship class for the Navy, will be expected to engage numerous threats in the littoral environment, the most significant of which include diesel submarines, small boats engaging in swarm war- fare, and mines. A key element to the overall ship design will be the devel- opment and integration of different modules, easily interchanged with

LCS, to address the various threats in the littorals. Dale Bennett, Lockheed

Martin NE&SS-Marine Systems vice president and general manager, said "Blohm + Voss understood the need for modularity in ship design and inte- gration as early as the 1970s, by developing flexible mission modules that provide for ease of spiral upgrades to systems over time. This approach to modular ship design resulted in the extremely popular

MEKO-class ships, found in 11 navies worldwide today." Dr. Reinhard

Mehl, Blohm + Voss executive board member, concurred: "We have learned many lessons along the way in refin- ing the MEKO design that we expect to be of great significance for our LCS efforts."

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