Eight Littoral Combat Ships Could be Gulf-based
Undersecretary of the U.S. Navy says 8 LCS's could be based in the Persian Gulf
The Navy could eventually have a force of eight ships operating from Bahrain if plans to base littoral combat ships (LCS) in the Persian Gulf continue as envisioned, the service’s No. 2 official has said.
The Navy has long been planning to operate LCS ships in the gulf, Undersecretary Bob Work told an audience at the Cato Institute in Washington. The ships, able to perform several different missions when fitted out with specialized equipment packages, already are to replace U.S. minesweepers and patrol boats in the region.
The four-ship minesweeper force operating from Bahrain will be doubled by next month when another four ships arrive from the U.S. West Coast, and a total of 10 large patrol boats are eventually to be stationed there. All will ultimately be replaced by LCS ships.
Work did not lay out a timetable for LCS deployments, but it is likely to be late this decade before enough LCS ships will be available to be forward-based in the gulf at the eight-ship level.
“These plans are preliminary,” Work cautioned after his talk, “pending approval from the Pentagon, the Congress and the host nation.”
Only two ships — one from each design currently being built — are in service. A third ship will be commissioned this fall, while the fourth won’t be delivered until next year.
Freedom (LCS 1) is to make a demonstration deployment in 2013 to Singapore, which has offered to host four of the ships.