The future of the U.S. Navy is pictured on this month’s cover, the three designs that will battle to become the reality known as the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) — a family of up to 60 (relatively) small, fast, flexible vessels designed to serve a major role in the “plug and play
” military operations of the future.
At press time, the American Shipbuilding Association
(ASA) was lamenting the fact that the Senate had effectively cut two ships from the President’s 2004 Budget Request — the zeroing of two T-AKE Combat Force Logistics Ships — and was lobbying hard for their reinstatement. The action does appear particularly capricious at this time, considering the tremendous stress already placed upon a short-handed naval force and the exhibition of its dominance in recent overseas matters. While it is more than a mere numbers game, it is undeniable that the need for a renewed U.S. Navy fleet is very real, and despite a slew of christenings and commissionings carried in these pages of late, more firm contracts for the long-term are needed.
The LCS program is a step in the right direction, if nothing more it will infuse the U.S. industry with business for years to come. The LCS contract is particularly noteworthy in its dependence on technologies eminating from outside the U.S., and the international community has been roused to activity by the lure of Navy dollars. We will track the progress of the LCS competition closely in our pages as it plays out over the next seven months.
While, as the editor of MR/EN I live for the moments to present the next-generation technology such as LCS in these pages, as a person I’m partial to the picture in our “Leading Off” section on page 8, showing the late comedian Bob Hope in a familiar position, providing comical relief to troops at war. Mr. Hope, who died last month at the age of 100, has left an indelible mark for humor, humanity and compassion.