LCS 1: Navy Wants to Deploy Now

According to a source at Lockheed Martin, the Navy wants the USS Freedom (LCS 1) to deploy soon and well ahead of schedule. Apparently the chief of naval operations himself, Adm. Gary Roughead, has called for the move. Currently, the Freedom is not scheduled to deploy until 2012.

So what’s the rush? We say Congress and money. We guess (and our source speculates) the Freedom would head to pirate ops in the Gulf of Aden to join the U.S. Central Command’s handful of vessels patrolling the vast 1.1 million square mile area. Not long ago, Navy officials bragged LCS could chase pirates to Somalia’s shoreline. While the international community has greenlighted the hot pursuit, we’re still not so sure we’d send a now-$600 million vessel after a few (heavily) armed thugs on their tug. “An RPG could do some damage,” we said to our contact. “Freedom is a warship with a steel hull,” he said, reminding us of competitor General Dynamic’s hip trimiran take on the littoral combat ship is crafted from aluminum.

Roughead might have several points to make. First, he might want to show he has too few ships and thus is forced to get the Freedom out there right away. Second, he may want to show his Navy is competent enough to pull off getting Freedom deployed early. This matter has been debatable among lawmakers and wags alike given the cost debacles of recent years. Deploying the Freedom provides the passion play lawmakers love and might help make the case for the budget Roughead has argued for. How will a vessel with a crew of just 40 perform? The Navy probably needs this answer to help guide it with future designs.

Bottom line: The Navy needs money and ships. Send this jet ski-warship into harm’s way now without disaster and cha-ching — it’s raining men (George, Abe, Tom, Ben.)

The Navy did not respond to our request for verification.

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