U.S. Navy Decides to Decommission a $362 Million Ship After Less Than 5 Years of Service
The decommission ceremony for the naval ship USS Sioux City was held earlier this week. The $362 million dollar ship was in service for less than five years, and the world is both confused and saddened by the Navy’s decision.
The USS Sioux City is one of the Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ships, a small fleet known as the LCS program. Though the Navy originally had big plans for the LCS program, it turned out to be quite a disappointment.
The Few Missions of the USS Sioux City
Throughout its short four years and nine months of service, the USS Sioux City only completed a few missions.
Since its commission on November 17, 2018, the ship completed only four deployments, including aiding the Coast Guard in drug-interdiction missions. The ship did navigate to Europe once, but it was the only LCS ship to ever do so.
What is the Purpose of The LCS Fleet?
When the Navy established the LCS program, the initial goal was to build a small fleet of agile and efficient ships.
They were meant to operate as light frigates and patrol vessels, all while saving the Navy and the taxpayer money. However, almost since their inception, the LCS ships have been extremely disappointing.
The USS Coronado Was Also Decommissioned Last Year
The USS Sioux City is not the only LCS to be decommissioned before its time. So far, four ships have been decommissioned, including the USS Coronado, which completed its service last September after only eight years of service.
Both ships, along with many others within the fleet, were expected to last for 25 years, but the Navy has essentially given up on them. Within the next few years, the Navy will likely decommission most of not all of the expensive LCS fleet.
LCS Naval Ships Ended Up Costing a Fortune
The smaller LCS ships were supposed to be reliable, affordable, and last for up to 25 years. Unfortunately, not one of these expectations were met.
In fact, according to sources, the LCS ships, including the USS Sioux City, ended up costing almost as much as a destroyer to operate.
What’s Wrong with LCS Ships?
In addition to being excessively expensive to operate, most of the ships within the program have also experienced problems with their propulsion systems. Repairs have been extensive and costly among the many ships within the LCS fleet.
And because the operational costs, as well as repair costs, were so extensive, the Navy decided to cut its losses and discontinue repairing the several ships within the fleet.
The Navy Has a New Plan
Along with being expensive and problematic in general, the LCS ships are also unimpressive when it comes to the variety of missions they can complete.
Therefore, the Navy has decided to divest its funding into new avenues, such as frigates, which can execute anti-submarine warfare and various other missions the LCS fleet couldn’t handle.
The Decommissioning Ceremony Honored the USS Sioux City
Captain Daniel Reiher, commander of the Littoral Combat Ship Training Facility Atlantic spoke at the ceremony, stating, “Though our ship’s service ends today, her legacy does not. For years to come the Sailors who served onboard will carry forth lessons learned and career experiences gained.”
He continued, “As those lessons and experiences are used to forge those that follow us, the legacy of Sioux City will strengthen our Navy for generations to come.”
A Positive Spin on a Complicated Situation
Though Captain Reiher’s speech was certainly positive and uplifting, the general feelings about the program do not mirror his words.
The LCS program has been riddled with issues from the start, and the Navy has been under scrutiny due to its many failures such as the engineering issues, necessary repairs, and few missions that the LCS fleet has been able to complete.
Sioux City is Disappointed with the U.S. Navy
Mayor Bob Scott of Sioux City, Iowa, the location after which the ship was named, said that the ship’s commissioning was “one of the proudest days of Sioux City.”
Then he continued to say, “And then this is what the Navy does to us in return,” he added, calling the move a “joke.” His frustration is based on the fact that the Navy spent over $350 million on the ship while knowing that the LCS fleet was “supposedly a problem and wasting taxpayers’ money.”
Even Naval Officers Express their Frustrations
And the Mayor of Sioux City isn’t the only person speaking out against the Navy’s choices. Navy Admiral Stavirdis said on social media, “Hard to figure this one out. Hate to see anything decommissioned when we are so far behind China in overall ship count.”
The U.S. is certainly falling behind its primary rival, China, in numbers of warships being used and built.
Support for the U.S. Navy’s Choice to Decommission
Although the Navy is certainly facing backlash from many, others believe that the organization is making the right call.
These supporters state that the U.S. absolutely needs to focus on creating programs and ships that can handle whatever the 21st century may bring, even if those choices cause controversy. Though many have faith in the Navy, there’s no doubt that the LCS program will be remembered as a failure.