The US Navy decided to remove the US$362 million worth of littoral combat ship USS Freedom after 13 years of use, with only one time out to sea for duty.
Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) use lightweight materials to reduce draft, thereby allowing them to operate in shallow waters near shore. However, makes it easy for enemy shore defenses to sunk this LCS vulnerable. Therefore, the early LCSs were scrapped by the US early.
The decommissioning ceremony of the USS Freedom took place at Naval Base San Diego in California on September 29. This is the second LCS ship to be decommissioned by the US navy, after the USS Independence, which was retired at the end of July. The US Navy is expected to decommission four more LCS ships before March 2022.
USS Freedom was commissioned in November 2008. During 13 years of operation, this warship was deployed only once, when supporting the Coast Guard against drug smuggling in the Caribbean and eastern Pacific.
For the rest of the time, the USS Freedom mainly served the purpose of testing and training the crew. At the time of decommissioning, the crew of the USS Freedom had 9 officers and 41 sailors, 10 more than the original design.
USS Freedom and USS Independence were built to different standards from the rest of the LCS ships, making their combat capabilities even more limited.
US Navy officials revealed that it took $ 2.5 billion to modify the first 4 LCS ships in service, including the USS Freedom and USS Independence, to make them capable of combat. This amount is equivalent to building 4 new LCS ships.
USS Freedom costs $ 362 million, but the operating cost is up to more than $ 70 million / year, almost equal to $ 81 million for an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, while the LCS has clearly inferior combat capabilities.
The original design of the Freedom class only had a crew of 40 people, which is part of the reason for the high maintenance costs, because civilian contractors have to do more work when the ship is in the dock for maintenance, replacing because of the tasks that sailors can perform during the course of their duties.
The US Congressional Research Service released a report in 2019 showing that the US Navy has spent $30 billion on the LCS program since 2004. As of early 2021, only 21 ships have been put into service, much slower than the planned 49 ships before 2020. The Freedom-class battleship is classified as a littoral combat ship (LCS) with stealth capabilities.
The vessel is designed to respond to emergencies in shallow water operations against threats at sea such as diesel submarines and speedboat terrorism.
As a littoral combat ship, the USS Freedom is designed with the following characteristics: small, fast, flexible; based on replaceable modules; affordability; multitasking; capable of stealth; linked to the unified combat management system.
The unique feature of the ships is that the empty space occupies up to 40% of the area, when necessary, it is quickly added with weapon modules suitable for anti-submarine, anti-ship or air defense missions.
The ship is equipped with a very modern avionics system including a TRS-3D target search radar specially designed for coastal operations.
The USS Freedom also has the COMBATSS-21 combat data system, the Argon ST WBR-2000 electronic warfare system and the Terma A/S SKWS infrared decoy system.
Freedom-class battleships are equipped with modern weapons including 57 mm Mk 110 navalgun with a range of 14km, a rate of fire of 220 rounds per minute.
In addition, the ship also has two 30mm Mk44 Bushmaster II rapid-fire cannon, RIM-116 low-altitude air defense missile system with an effective range of 9km.
The ship can flexibly engage with the multi-purpose MH-60 Seahawk helicopter and MQ-8 Fire Scout unmanned helicopter to deal with enemy warships, thanks to a modern combat management system.
The biggest problem with the LCS program is the concept of combat. The US Navy invests billions of dollars a year to build LCS ships, but it is not clear how to use them in practice.