Shiphandling the Independence-Classip (LCS) has a fundamentally different design from any other ship in the Navy. Understanding how its design affects propulsion, sea-keeping, and reactions to external forces is critical to understanding how to drive it effectively, efficiently, and safely.
Propulsion and Steering
The Independence-class LCS is propelled by four steerable water jets (WJs) that have independent drive trains. The two outboard WJs, driven by motor turbine union 20-cylinder main propulsion diesel engines (MPDE) rated at 12,200 horse power (HP) each, have the most impact on low-speed precision maneuvering due to their position off centerline. The two inner WJs, used for high-speed operations and restricted maneuvering situations, are driven by LM2500 gas turbine engines, each with speeds up to 29,500 HP. The ship develops thrust as water is drawn through intakes under the hull, travels through each WJ tunnel, and is driven at high speed through the WJ by an impeller.
Attached to each WJ is a hydraulically actuated reversing plate commonly referred to as a “bucket,” which controls the amount of water directed forward or aft. When the ship’s control console (SCC) indicates zero percent bucket, roughly one-third of the water is directed astern and two-thirds are directed forward and down, causing the applied longitudinal forces to cancel out. Even at this “zero-thrust” point, the impellers are still turning at idle speed, an important consideration for the effects of engine wash on surrounding vessels and structures.
Instead of the normal flank, full, standard, one-third, and two-thirds orders, the officer of the deck (OOD) uses “T-settings” that range from T-0 to T-10 ahead or astern. These settings divide the ship’s maximum speed into roughly equal divisions, controlling both the ordered bucket percentage and impeller rotations per minute (RPM) in much the same way as the controllable-reversible pitch propeller on a guided-missile destroyer. At low T-settings—T-2 and below—the impeller shaft RPM remains at idle, with speed controlled by variations to the bucket angle percentage.
Although the orders for “twisting” are similar to those with maneuvering combinations on a twin-screw ship, the Independence does not require “wash over the rudder” to produce lateral force on the stern, which increases the number of low-speed maneuvering options; the ship can move laterally or twist while developing headway, sternway, or sitting in place. To complement the flexibility of the WJs, the ship has a Thrustmaster Azi-Thruster, rated at 850 HP, under the bow at Frame 16. The pod can be raised and lowered from its recess in the hull, trained 360 degrees, and at T-10 can produce enough thrust to check a 30-degree twist with the WJs at T-2.
By changing WJ angles, an OOD can move the ship’s pivot point from the bullnose toward the stern, while at the same time fine-tuning the ship’s headway and sternway by carefully balancing the ahead and astern T-settings. Additionally, the Azi-thruster can produce headway, sternway, or lateral thrust on the bow. Here are some techniques for effectively using this flexibility while retaining control, safety, and predictability.
Zero thrust point. “Zero thrust” while pierside in a full-power engine configuration is typically zero percent bucket on both the gas turbine and diesel WJs, although the exact zero thrust setting can vary slightly depending on winds and currents; back 25 percent bucket is not uncommon to maintain zero thrust. When conducting fine adjustments of the ship’s position for brow and mooring alignment, the gas turbine WJs remain at this zero thrust point and only the less-powerful MPDE WJs are manipulated. Varying MPDE WJ bucket percentages between ahead 30 percent and back 30 to 60 percent generally provide adequate thrust to control the ship’s fore-and-aft motion.
Balanced method. When docking, the CO, pilot, and conning officer (conn) are stationed at the bridge window, while the ship’s throttles are at the SCC amidships. Because of this separation, it is vital to use concise, unambiguous standard commands between the conn and helm while retaining as much maneuvering flexibility as possible.
To achieve this end, the “balanced method” of water jet configuration provides the most maneuvering flexibility while using the simplest standard commands. This method consists of training the port and starboard MPDE WJs an equal number of degrees in opposite directions to achieve the desired twist or walk. Because each WJ is at the same angle off centerline, each has the same effect on headway/sternway for a given T-setting, allowing engine orders to be balanced to produce zero thrust or deliberately unbalanced (e.g., T-2 ahead, T-3 back) to give headway or sternway while twisting or walking.
Using the balanced method, there are two primary types of twists: the “toe-in” and “toe-out.” These two twists have sufficient flexibility to cover a wide range of restricted maneuvering situations from pierside to anchoring.
Toe-in twist. To achieve the toe-in twist, the port and starboard combinators are turned inboard with one engine ahead and the opposite engine astern. With this configuration, the ship’s pivot point is generally just aft of the bridge, and the bow will twist toward the backing engine (i.e., a port twist requires putting the port engine astern and the starboard engine ahead). A toe-in twist with both MPDE WJs at 15 degrees inboard with the port engine set at ahead T-2 and the starboard engine set at astern T-2 will result in a comfortable 20 to 30 degrees per minute rate-of-turn to starboard. Transitioning to a toe-out twist of the same angle for a few seconds will check a toe-in twist without changing engine orders or significantly affecting headway/sternway.
Toe-out twist/walk. This requires the combinators to be turned outboard, also with one engine ahead and one engine astern. In a toe-out twist, the pivot point is forward of the bridge and can be moved all the way to the ship’s forward gun mount. The stern will move toward the engine that has the backing bell. For example, when moored starboard side to the pier, the starboard engine would be ordered ahead and the port engine back to bring the stern off the pier while keeping the bow relatively still.
A special case of the toe-out twist occurs when the WJs are toed out 5 to 7 degrees. In this configuration, all of the twisting forces balance out and the ship walks sideways toward the backing engine with lateral speeds in excess of 0.5 knots, enough to walk into 10 knots of wind. By extension, any toe-out twist of less than 5 degrees will have the same effect as a very slight toe-in twist, pushing the bow toward the backing engine.
Here are some samples of the standard commands used on an Independence-class LCS during pierside or harbor maneuvering:
• “Toe-out Diesel WJs 10 deg.” For moving the stern off the pier or twisting into the wind at an anchorage without significantly moving the bow.
• “Toe-in Diesel WJs 15 deg.” With ahead and astern engines opposed, this will produce a stationary, controlled, 20 to 30 degrees-per-minute twist.
• “Port Diesel WJ ahead T-2, Starboard Diesel WJ back T-2.5.” A normal order for opposed engines during a twist or walk. The T-setting for the ahead engine will be adjusted to keep the desired amount of headway or sternway.
• “Port and Starboard Diesel WJ ahead 30 percent bucket.” This engine order would move the ship very slowly forward for ship alignment alongside a pier.
• “Train Azi-thruster 090, Ahead T-5.” This refers to setting up the Azi-thruster to work the ship toward the pier in a starboard-side-to configuration. T-settings on the Azi-thruster below T-5 are barely noticeable, with a steep increase in power from T-5 to T-10.
The Independence-class LCS is an entirely new challenge and opportunity for ship drivers. Its increased flexibility and self-sufficiency will give the Navy the ability to put ships into areas that are currently inaccessible due to shallow water, lack of tugs, or austere facilities.
Commander Back is the CO of the USS Independence. He has served on board the USS George Philip (FFG-12), Constellation (CV-64), Pinckney (DDG-91), and Cowpens (CG-63), with shore tours as a student at the Naval Postgraduate School, an instructor at the Surface Warfare Officers School, and an electronic warfare officer for the 213th Area Support Group (Army National Guard) in Balad, Iraq.
Improving Shared Mariner Situational Awareness
The proliferation of transportation-related technology and maritime users has created an opportunity to provide mariners with a whole new way of operating. U.S. waterways are shared by people who have a wide range of experience, training, and technology, from licensed commercial operators with years of experience, electronic charts, global positioning systems (GPS), radios, and radar, to unlicensed recreational boaters venturing on the water for the first time with little more than a handheld foghorn and a cellphone. While this diversity creates an imbalance that can threaten everyone’s safety, all mariners have knowledge that could benefit the well-being of all if effectively shared in real time.
The real-time sharing of maritime operators’ individual knowledge, combined with other sources of relevant information, creates an enhanced state of situational awareness we call “mariner situational awareness.” This is the tactical cousin of “maritime domain awareness,” which has come to represent a more strategic, wide-area, and therefore less time-critical awareness of the vast maritime domain. In today’s complex maritime operating environment, rife with both safety and security risks, it is critical that we develop a system where maritime situational awareness is synchronized and shared across the full expanse of maritime users.
Possible Awareness Scenarios
Consider a typical maritime scenario in the San Francisco Bay. A ballistic-missile submarine is inbound ten miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge. A commercial fishing vessel is also approaching the bridge outbound. Not far behind is a Coast Guard cutter heading out for patrol. It is a bright day with calm seas and each operator notices several unknown contacts operating in their vicinity.
While not all of the operators may be supported by a full-blown navigation team, each has minimum requirements, which include a proper lookout, functioning radar, up-to-date paper or electronic charts, and access to weather reports and notices to mariners. In the case of the Coast Guard and Navy vessels, navigation briefs that include intricate details of each navigation evolution are standard operating procedures. All three are operating in a manner consistent with the “rules of the road” and the aids to navigation (ATON) provided (both based on domestic and international law), a shared form of maritime governance. All parties know that VHF Channel 16 is the primary method of communication and that sound signals can be used especially in an emergency. Additionally, each captain relies on experience and some degree of “seaman’s eye” to aid in safely transiting the channel.
These factors combine to provide each operator with a level of situational awareness that gives them a high level of comfort—until a change in wind direction creates a thick fog bank that engulfs all three vessels. The loss of visibility removes some of each operator’s means for maintaining situational awareness. Sound signals and running lights are energized and lookout awareness is heightened. Each mariner knows his or her own level of competence and awareness, but little of the abilities of those around them in the fog.
The confined geographic area and operating space create a highly localized circumstance where the vessels’ operators must interact effectively for all to pass safely. Each individual’s decision has a direct and immediate impact on the other mariners. Any gaps in either their understanding of the situation, the rules governing their actions, or the actions of those around them contain the seeds of catastrophe. A lack of situational awareness could be the first step in an error chain leading to a collision. Most accident investigations highlight the critical role situational awareness plays in a vibrant maritime transportation system.
In this age of technology, there is no reason for these uncertainties to still plague mariners. Consider their land equivalents, vehicle operators, who have access to a vast amount of real-time information, including weather reports, road conditions, and traffic reports. They also use helpful mobile apps that provide comprehensive situational awareness by combining continuously updated road maps; GPS-based positioning; and real-time road conditions, traffic camera displays, and routing advice. This information is updated manually by reporters, forecasters, and other commuters, who note traffic accidents, road construction, and traffic jams as they occur. Computer systems automatically track the speed of vehicles using GPS to determine traffic density and flow. Commuters can even see real-time video streaming of the roadways.
Each user can define outputs to customize the information feed, tailoring it to meet his or her needs. All of this shared information gives commuters comprehensive situational awareness of their immediate surroundings and the road ahead to arrive at their destination in the safest and quickest manner possible.
Is a similar shared situational-awareness system possible for the mariner? The answer is yes, with one significant shortfall: electronic navigation. While electronic charts and differential GPS (dGPS) are common tools used by advanced mariners, they are less common among recreational operators. In addition, safe channels are still marked by 20th-century buoys and fixed ATONs periodically checked for accuracy. This is an expensive, time-consuming, and dangerous mission. Any significant enhancement in mariner situational awareness hinges on advancements in maritime technology, especially electronic navigation or “eNav.” The United States could look to the extensive work done by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and its eNav strategy-implementation plan. The IMO’s goal is “an all-embracing system that will contribute to enhanced navigational safety [with all the positive repercussions this will have on maritime safety overall and environmental protection] while simultaneously reducing the burden on the navigator.”
Imagine if mariners were equipped with mobile apps similar to those available to vehicle operators—ones that have continuously updated electronic charts that include changes in channels from dredging or shoaling. Overlaid on these charts are the vessel’s position based upon dGPS as well as output from the vessel’s own sensors (e.g., radar, sonar, etc.).
Where channel constraints are too tight for the accuracy of dGPS or the waterway is too vital to the national U.S. Marine Transportation System, “smart ATON” can transmit additional positioning information to refine the position display. The external positioning information is continuously checked against the vessel’s sensor data, alerting the operator and the system of any discrepancies. The system itself automatically collects sensor outputs from all vessels to validate and refine its positioning accuracy, and also acts as protection against cyber attacks.
Available for display are the dGPS-generated real-time position, course, and speed of all other vessels in the selected range. A single tap on the icon can provide additional information such as the vessel’s name, type, size, draft, cargo, destination, etc. (filtered based on security and proprietary concerns). The mariner can see the output of any vessel traffic system cameras in the vicinity and the sea, tide, and current conditions anywhere along the course. He can set alerts to automatically receive the latest notice to mariners, Captain of the Port order, weather warnings, or mariner distress incidents for their location. Individual mariners can punch in customized alert parameters regarding proximity to other vessels or hazards and, with a tap of an icon, immediately alert others to changing conditions, including accidents, unusual activities, etc. All of this information would be available to government and private maritime operation centers allowing for more effective monitoring and controlling of vessel traffic and anomaly detection. The possibilities for this mariner situational awareness system are limitless.
Availability is Key
Next generation technology is only as good as the people using it and the system it supports. If only one segment of the maritime network (i.e., commercial shipping) can use this new capability, it will do little to enhance collective awareness or overall waterway safety. Even the most novice mariner has value to put into this collective awareness. Consider the situation of the three mariners shrouded in fog in the opening scenario; a shared mariner situational- awareness capability used by everyone in the water would significantly ease their angst and reduce their risk if all are participating.
Clearly this shared awareness would need to be tempered with appropriate protocol, permissions, and protections to respect the proprietary concerns of commercial operators, the security demands of government vessels, and to defend against cyberattacks. Still, the bias of information sharing must be toward openness and transparency.
Most of the technology and information for the system we are proposing already exists; it just needs to be put together in affordable, easy to use, user-defined displays available on any mobile device. As with systems provided to vehicle operators, low-cost, low-end users such as recreational boaters may have to accept a continuous stream of advertisements along the bottom of their display. Higher-end users willing to pay for a subscription could opt out of the advertising stream.
There is no way to dictate how or what information mariners will use to develop their individual situational awareness. Currently there is no way to direct the sharing of information among mariners. However, our experience in studying how commuters use data on the roadways tells us that if you build a viable system that enhances transportation, users will participate. We are a maritime nation highly dependent on maritime commerce for the sustainment of our national economy. How can we not provide to our mariners at least the same capability provided to our vehicle operators?
The time is overdue for the government to partner with industry to develop the capabilities we have described. We strongly advocate a government-private sector partnership to pursue a “proof of concept” to validate the way forward.
Captain Vann is Atlantic Area’s (LANTAREA’s) Future Operations Chief.
Commander Wasserman is the Chief of LANTAREA Cutter Forces.
Dr. DiRenzo is LANTAREA Senior Advisor for Science, Technology, Innovation and Research.
Mr. Doane is the command’s Executive Secretariat.
A Profession of Arms for the 21st Century
Far-reaching consequences from declining Defense budgets will take years to overcome. Given a scenario in which U.S. capabilities have waned against the march of new threats, what should be done to mitigate the risks associated with a smaller force? What parts of current military framework should be preserved or reinforced to retain our warfighting potency? Emboldened with an economic system that rewards ingenuity, Americans look to technology to solve problems. The inclination to reach first for hardware solutions certainly has merit. The tools and networks of commerce that have emerged since our founding have altered the socioeconomic landscape and fueled an insatiable appetite for material goods. But narrow-minded materialistic thinking can foreclose opportunities and even impair national security.
The Psychological Element
Human affairs are influenced by resources, reason, and emotions. Whereas resources are the physical means of existence and can be relatively easy to define, the latter two encompass the psychological realities of life and are less discernible. The psychological element has a powerful influence on effects in the physical domain. Conversely, conditions in the physical domain such as insufficient resources affect psychological behavior. In peace, emotions are held in check and reason reigns; when physical conditions deteriorate, emotions alter the calculus of rational thought and behavior. As Carl von Clausewitz reminds us in On War, “In the dreadful presence of suffering and danger, emotions can easily overwhelm intellectual conviction, and in this psychological fog it is hard to form clear and complete insights. . . .”1 Terrorism and guerrilla warfare are brutish examples of how psychological tactics can achieve objectives. Not surprisingly, competitor nations are increasingly incorporating psychological and information warfare into their strategies.
Major General J. F. C. Fuller, a British Army officer and military strategist, subdivided war into the mental, moral, and physical domains.2 Effective militaries exploit opportunities within each. The mental domain is where pattern recognition occurs and concepts form to ignite action. It’s where leaders apply reason and imagination to gain advantages. The moral domain is the realm of beliefs and emotions and includes impulses such as courage, camaraderie, patriotism, and their antonyms. Within the physical domain, material weapons are attractive, convincing instruments of force. But because they are expensive, integrated weapon systems are vulnerable to economic downturns. To offset its declining physical forces, the United States should develop ways to exploit opportunities beyond the physical domain of war. Passion and chance complicate war beyond the scope of reason. The military profession is designed to manage violence and views conflict “as a universal pattern throughout nature and sees violence rooted in the permanent biological and psychological nature of men.”3
Weapons change, but human nature does not. The relative predictability of human nature offers advantages not afforded in the physical world. History confirms that a military with a hearty psychological disposition holds a significant advantage over an equivalent force with a weaker inner disposition. Psychological temperaments can magnify effectiveness. The German army of World War II was known for its synergy of physical and non-physical combat prowess. It exploited integrated forces in blitzkrieg to penetrate physical front lines and psychological sinews. An assessment of German armor operations revealed that Germany sought to use the new weapons tactically and strategically to impose psychological and material destruction. German doctrine evolved into one of “break-through” and “interior outflanking.” This multi-domain style of warfare used an agile command-and-control philosophy composed of independent, disciplined leaders.4
Colonel John Boyd theorized that actions in war should be directed at disrupting moral, informational, spatial, ideational, and logistical connections among individuals and organizations. He espoused the need to destroy an enemy’s moral bonds, by disorienting his awareness, disrupting operations, and overloading his systems. This would diminish the adversary’s freedom-of-action while improving ours, and thus render an opponent powerless by denying him the opportunity to cope with unfolding circumstances.5 This is consistent with Clausewitz’s view that “Military activity is never directed against material force alone; it is always aimed simultaneously at the moral forces which give it life. . . .”6
General Fuller believed the qualities most valuable to a fighting force were imagination operating through reason, reason operating through audacity, and audacity operating through rapidity of movement.7 In political scientist Samuel Huntington’s mind, tradition, esprit, unity, and community were the building blocks of the military profession.8 In short, character is the key. “Character,” Aristotle said, “is that which reveals moral purpose, exposing the class of things a man chooses and avoids.”9 It is the force behind all capabilities.
Initiative and Cohesion
In a recent paper, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey declared, “We must renew our commitment to the Profession of Arms.”10 The thrust of this human-development effort should be to create a force with superior cohesion that seeks to own the initiative. These two psychological strengths should become the key tenets of our future profession of arms.
Cohesion is the lifeblood of any successful organization, allowing speed, agility, and perseverance. The result of trust and confidence, it lets members act independently, yet in unison. Trust-based cohesion is developed through the pride of ownership, shared suffering, and habits that generate confidence. A good indicator of unit cohesion is morale. Author James Ulio asserts that morale originates from a positive attitude toward duty and develops in proportion to one’s command over self.
It is a spirit that becomes dominant in the individual and also in the group . . . A cause known and believed in; knowledge that substantial justice governs discipline; the individual’s confidence and pride in himself, his comrades, his leaders; the unit’s pride in its own will; these basic things, supplemented by intelligent welfare and recreation measures and brought to life by a spirit of mutual respect and co-operation, combine to weld a seasoned fighting force capable of defending the nation.11
Cohesion requires discipline, which prepares the mind for psychological or physical exertion. As General George S. Patton once said, “Discipline is based on pride in the profession of arms, on meticulous attention to details, and on mutual respect and confidence.”12 General S. L. A. Marshall describes the type of discipline we seek as “standards of conduct which will assure maximum efficiency according to the mission.”13 Once discipline is internalized, unified high performance can occur with minimal supervision.
The second hallmark quality that should define our profession of arms is initiative, the internal drive to think and take action without being urged. It produces an opportunistic mentality and has significant second- and third-order effects. It creates a cascade of new opportunities while simultaneously closing enemy options. Initiative is not exclusively related to offensive activities, but it is the ability to progress according to plan while simultaneously disrupting the plans of one’s opponent. Intrinsic motivation that is mission-oriented and generates concentric results is the type of initiative we must nurture and employ.14
Initiative with boldness is audacity, which in war is nearly always preferable to inaction.15 Clausewitz asserts, “Given the same amount of intelligence, timidity will do a thousand times more damage in war than audacity.”16 One way to harness audacity is through mission command, also known as aufstragtaktik, which is a command-and-control philosophy that demands and leverages individual initiative to achieve objectives. This is a state of mind that will lead to success within and beyond the physical battlespace.
Cuts in defense funds will challenge longstanding operational and training practices. As resources dwindle, opportunities to train with hardware and live weapons will decline. Accepting this reality, what should be done to fortify readiness? One answer is to breed leaders who think unconventionally, are adept at improvising, and know how to build cohesive teams. Likewise, our warfighting concepts and capabilities should evolve to take advantage of cohesion and owning the initiative. And military schools should teach the value of cohesion and initiative through historical examples.
To be sure the services have always sought to instill foundational principles in their members. For example, last year Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert produced “The Navy Leader Development Strategy,” designed to establish a continuum that integrates experience, education, training, and personal development as its core elements. The strategy points out that in addition to developing technical and tactical competence, we must equip our sailors with strength, determination, and dignity. It acknowledges that this must be an enduring investment and a top Navy responsibility.17
The U.S. Marine Corps’ The Basic School (TBS) is a winning model for building cohesion and seizing initiative. TBS teaches core topics of maneuver warfare theory and practice, tactics, techniques and procedures, and officership. It addresses ethics, human factors of leadership, communication and decision-making, mental and physical toughness, and bias for action training. Officers also attend the Basic Officer Course where they learn leadership, military skills, decision making and problem solving, and an introduction to the study of military history and warrior ethos.18
Modern connectivity that makes the rapid distribution of information possible can also stoke emotions on a vast scale. In spite of these changes, human nature, rich in emotive and cognitive power, remains a relative afterthought in military force planning and professional development. Those familiar with war know the importance of psychological forces. General Marshall once said that World War II taught him “the falseness of the belief that wealth, material resources, and industrial genius are the real sources of national military power” and that true “national strength lies only in the hearts and spirits of men.”19
To achieve future security objectives, our military must optimize material and non-material strengths. A profession of arms based on the concepts of initiative and cohesion will enable us to outmaneuver future adversaries in the mental, moral, and physical domains of war.
2. MGEN J. F. C. Fuller, The Foundations of the Science of War (London: Hutchinson & Co., 1926), 58.
3. Samuel Huntington, The Soldier and the State (Belknap Press, 1957), 63.
4. U.S. Military Intelligence Service War Department, “The German Armored Army,” August 1942, http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/cgsc/carl/wwIIspec/number02.pdf, 6, 8, 19.
5. Frans Osinga, Science, Strategy and War: The Strategic Theory of John Boyd (Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2007), 41.
6. Clausewitz, On War, 137.
7. Fuller, Foundations, 100.
8. Huntington, The Soldier and the State, 63.
9. Aristotle, http://josephsoninstitute.org/quotes/quotations.php?q=Ethics.
10. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Whitepaper, “America’s Military–A Profession of Arms,” 2012.
11. James Ulio, “Military Morale,” American Journal of Sociology, vol. 47, no. 3, University of Chicago Press, November 1941.
12. GEN George C. Patton, War as I Knew It, Letter of Instruction, 3 April 1944.
13. BRIG GEN S.L.A. Marshall, Men Against Fire: The Problem of Battle Command (University of Oklahoma Press, 1947), 167.
14. Marshall, Men Against Fire, 132.
15. Fuller, Foundations, 194–7.
16. Clausewitz, On War, 191.
17. Chief of Naval Operations, The Navy Leader Development Strategy, 2013.
18. U.S. Marine Corps, The Basic School Command Brief, www.tecom.usmc.mil/tbs, 17 January 2008.
19. Marshall, Men Against Fire, 208–11.