US Navy Releases Draft Environmental Assessment

The U.S. Navy has prepared and released to the public a Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) to evaluate the potential environmental effects that may result from homeporting up to 14 littoral combat ships (LCSs) on the East Coast of the United States by 2020.

The EA evaluates the potential environmental effects of homeporting 14 LCSs at either Naval Station Norfolk, Va., or 14 LCSs at Naval Station Mayport, Fla.

Although no final decision has yet been made, the Navy’s preferred alternative is to homeport the initial East Coast LCSs at Naval Station Mayport.

Paper copies of the Draft EA are available for review at the following libraries:

* Beaches Branch Library, 600 3rd St., Neptune Beach, Fla.
* Jacksonville Main Library, 303 N Laura St. Jacksonville, Fla.
* St. Marys Public Library, 100 Herb Bauer Drive, St. Marys, Ga.
* Havelock-Craven County Public Library, 301 Cunningham Blvd., Havelock, N.C.
* Mary D. Pretlow Anchor Library, 111 W. Ocean View Ave., Norfolk, Va.
* Meyera Oberndorf Central Library, 4100 Virginia Beach Blvd., Virginia Beach, Va.

Comments may be submitted in writing to: LCS Homeporting EA Project Manager; Naval Facilities Engineering Command Atlantic; Attn: Code EV21/SS 6506 Hampton Blvd. Norfolk, Va., or via e-mail using the following address: [email protected]. Comments must be postmarked no later than March 29, and should be as specific as possible.

The Draft EA includes an evaluation of the environmental effects of construction of support facilities at the chosen location and accommodating the required crews and unmanned aerial systems for the LCS. For example, MQ�]8B Fire Scouts are proposed to be stored and flight tested at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.

The LCS has a modular, mission-focused design that provides the Navy with war fighting capabilities and operational flexibility to ensure continued maritime dominance and access. A relatively small surface combatant, the LCS is designed to operate independently, as part of a Carrier Strike Group or as part of a smaller Surface Action Group.

The LCS is designed to operate in shallow coastal waters, and is capable of operating in depths of less than 20 feet. The vessel has two variants, one built by Lockheed Martin and one built by Austal.

The LCS has a minimal manning concept. Each LCS will have a core crew of about 40 personnel, plus about 23 personnel assigned to an aviation detachment to manage the ship’s aerial systems. The crew of the LCS will include specialized mission package crews, which would consist of 15 to 19 personnel that could be interchanged depending on each individual ship’s current and projected tasking.

LCS will operate on a 3:2:1 concept, three crews between two ships with one of the two ships always deployed; one crew will be forward on the deployed seaframe, one crew will be on a seaframe in local waters training for deployment and the third crew will be on post deployment and training ashore allowing the ship to be maintained on-station for longer periods of time by swapping crews.

The supporting aerial systems associated with the LCS, the MQ-8B Firescout and MH-60 helicopter, would be managed and operated by personnel assigned to an MH-60 detachment. The Firescout is an unmanned aerial system that would assist and support the current MH-60 mission. An MH-60 squadron will generally have about 23 personnel. The MH-60 helicopters, MH-60 detachment, and MH-60 support facilities already exist on the East Coast, and the basing and employment of these assets have been addressed in other Navy environmental documents.

The EA examined stationing up to 21 crews (up to 1,050 ship’s company crew personnel and up to about 400 mission package crew personnel) and about 240 on-installation LCS support personnel at the selected base. This would result in about 1,700 personnel, as well as about 1,900 family members, being added to the local community. There would be up to 21 crews available for the 14 LCSs; however, six ships would be deployed at any given time, leaving eight LCSs and 15 crews in port at any one time.


Press Release, March 1, 2013