Key point: They are expensive and weak. In fact, the Navy doesn't even want them.
After spending $30 billion over a period of around two decades, the U.S. Navy has managed to acquire just 35 of the 3,000-ton-displacement vessels.
Sixteen were in service as of late 2018. Of those 16, four are test ships. Six are training ships. In 2019 just six LCSs, in theory, are deployable.
While that number should increase as the remaining ships in the class finally commission into service, the LCS’s low readiness rate calls into question the wisdom of the Navy’s investment in the type.
Indeed, the Navy in 2018 didn’t deploy a single LCS, USNI News reported. “The service was supposed to push forward three ships in Fiscal Year 2018, after a 2016 overhaul of LCS homeporting, command and control and manning constructs.”
“However, USNI News first reported in April 2018 that zero LCSs would deploy in [fiscal year] 2018. Since then, the Navy had not talked publicly about progress made towards getting ready to deploy its first LCSs since ships from a block-buy contract started delivering to the fleet at about four a year.”
Navy officials in early 2019 claimed at least three LCSs would deploy before the end of the current fiscal year in September 2019.
“We’re deploying LCS this year, it’s happening,” Commander of Naval Surface Forces Vice Adm. Richard Brown told reporters. “Two ships are going on the West Coast; one ship is going on the East Coast, followed shortly [by a second] in the beginning of ‘20. And that marks the deployment of LCS; there will always be LCS forward-deployed now, just like we designed the program.”
Brown said the LCSs USS Montgomery and USS Gabrielle Giffords would deploy from San Diego to the Western Pacific while USS Detroit deployed from Florida. USS Little Rock in early 2020 also would deploy from Florida.