Navy's new warship is an ocean hot rod - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Navy's new warship is an ocean hot rod

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GALVESTON, Texas (FOX 26) -

Capt. Kirk would be proud of the bridge on the USS Fort Worth.

There are very few knobs or levers or dials.  It's mostly computer displays.  The helmsman steers with a joystick.  This is the Navy, so there are some traditional touches like a bell that a sailor still rings by hand before making announcements over the loudspeaker.  

This is not just a new ship.  It's a new class of ship. It's designed to fight in shallow coastal waters.  She needs a mere 14 feet of water.  

She's versatile.  In one mode, she's an anti-submarine ship.  In another, she's a minesweeper.  In another, she's a surface warfare ship.

"It's a really unique concept and allows us to adapt to what's going on in the theater and provide the commanders with what they need," Commander Blankenship said.

She carries a crew of just 40, which is about 20 percent of the crew most warships her size require.  

She's a hot rod.  She can accelerate to 50mph in just 90 seconds.  Her commander said that means she can take on pirates, drug smugglers and navies that like to use "swarm" tactics.

"Some navies like to send out a lot of boats at the same time.  They present a lot of targets that are moving fast and we can make run with them and make their day very ugly."

The LCS program fills the gap between the open water or "blue water" navy and the riverine small craft or "brown water" navy.  

The Cold War is over.  There is no more Soviet Navy for us to square off against.  There are no navies that want to go toe to toe against the US Navy.  

Threats are different. Al Qaida doesn't have aircraft carriers.  Asymmetric warfare is the order of the day.  The LCS program is an attempt to adapt to the changing threats.

But the LCS program itself has become a target of some critics.  They say the ships sacrifice firepower and protection for speed.  They question the need for such a high top speed.  Other point out that hat the ship has to return to port to switch modules so it can perform a different mission.

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