The information surfaced in a June 20 message from the chief of naval operations (CNO). Littoral combat ships USS Freedom (LCS 1), USS Independence (LCS 2), USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) and USS Coronado (LCS 4) will all be placed “Out of Commission In Reserve” (OCIR) on 31 March 2021 along with Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43).
The CNO statement reads:
To facilitate fleet planning efforts to conduct decommissioning continuous maintenance availability (CMAV) or inactivation availability (INAC), the projected schedule for inactivating U.S. battle force and non battle force naval vessels in FY21 is promulgated as follows: Ship Name Proj Inactive Date Post Inactive Status USS ZEPHYR 31 Mar 2021 Dismantle (PC 8) USS SHAMAL 31 Mar 2021 Dismantle (PC 13) USS TORNADO 31 Mar 2021 Dismantle (PC 14) USNS SIOUX 30 Sep 2021 Dismantle (T-ATF 171) USS FORT MCHENRY 31 Mar 2021 OCIR (LSD 43) USS FREEDOM 31 Mar 2021 OCIR (LCS 1) USS INDEPENDENCE 31 Mar 2021 OCIR (LCS 2) USS FORT WORTH 31 Mar 2021 OCIR (LCS 3) USS CORONADO 31 Mar 2021 OCIR
This is a surprising development as all four LCS are fairly new vessels, having been commissioned between October 2008 and April 2014. In addition, the announcement follows the delivery of USS Oakland (LCS 24) last week, which brought the number of ships in the US Navy inventory up to 300 (edging closer to President Trump’s wish to see the number grow to 355 ships by 2030).
As reported by Defense News, citing a Navy official, the first four LCS were more prototypes / test vessels than true warships: “they’re not configured like the other LCS in the fleet, and they need significant upgrades. Everything from combat [systems], to structural, you name it. They’re expensive to upgrade.”