Entering a new era of sea warfare and coastal threats, the US Navy began looking for a new generation of a smaller platform capable of operating independently or as part of a battle force. Thus, the littoral combat ship (LCS) program was developed in the early 2000s.

The program sought a dependable light frigate and littoral patrol ship as strong as an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer but with less intense presence—just enough to oversee coastal duties.

Additionally, the Navy was looking to fill in the inevitable gap the outgoing Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigates would leave following its decommissioning in the 2010s, which has proven to be a highly-capable platform for years.

During the mid-2000s, the Navy had granted a split construction contract for the LCS ships to America’s two major defense manufacturers. However, as promising as these vessels were at first, it wasn’t long before a slew of problems emerged—stirring doubts on whether the platform would even be a worthy investment.

Both variants have been plagued with technical challenges and design defects, with their viability in high-risk or contested areas a constant source of contention by authorities even up to the present.

In its fiscal 2023 report, the US Director, Operational Test & Evaluation stated that the survivability of the LCS was “challenged in a contested environment against selected kinetic threat types,” while viability for operations in cyber-contested environments was “currently unknown,” Naval Technology noted in an article posted earlier this year. Further citing the unsuitability of the LCSs due to propulsion failures and not mentioning the controversy regarding its “past cost growth.”

Accordingly, the Navy is said to have estimated that operating and supporting the anticipated 35 LCS warships will cost more than $60 billion. Of which, the Independence-class ships cost around $360 million each.

Despite providing a great platform for testing new technologies, the inadequacies of the LCSs have been the primary driver for the service to launch the FFG(X) program, known now as the Constellation class, which was announced in the mid-2010s.