Posted by John Keller
I can't help myself; I just love it when sanity rears its ugly head. Such was the case yesterday when a key member of Congress finally ... FINALLY, recommended the obvious -- that the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard think about combining at least parts of two remarkably similar surface warship programs.
The key congressman is U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., who is proposing a merger of the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and the Coast Guard's National Security Cutter. Taylor's recommendation was reported on DefenseTech.org, and you can read the story here.
I've often wondered, and used to ask a lot of questions, why the Navy and Coast Guard were pursuing two very expensive but eerily similar major surface ship programs. The answers I generally received amounted to something like 'don't worry your pretty little head about this; the Navy and Coast Guard have such vastly different missions that no one conceivable ship design could ever come close to meeting their diverse requirements. Besides, the Navy is part of the Defense Department and Coast Guard is part of Homeland Security. Simply asking why shows how little you understand the issues.'
Hey, I'm willing -- eager, in fact -- to leave weighty problems like warship design to the experts. My pondering had to be not just naive, but silly. I admitted such and moved forward.
Still, it kept nagging at me ever since I started learning about the Littoral Combat Ship and the National Security Cutter, also known as the Maritime Security Cutter. In my ill-informed, non-nautical thinking, it seemed to me that the National Security Cutter was a super-cutter -- not quite a frigate, but something close.
On the other hand, the Littoral Combat Ship, it seemed, was trying to be something like a baby frigate -- something smaller, and optimized for operations close-in to shore, rather than for blue-water operations escorting carrier battle groups and the like.
Super-cutter, baby frigate. It always sounded like the same thing to me, but approached from opposite directions. Maybe it could save a lot of money at least to use the same hull, I thought.
But no matter. I stopped worrying my pretty little head about this a long time ago. It's satisfying, however, to see that members of Congress have started wrangling with it, for a change.