Home SCIENCE Water Jets Give These Cutting-Edge Warships Incredible Maneuverability

Water Jets Give These Cutting-Edge Warships Incredible Maneuverability

Instead of a propeller and a rudder, Littoral Combat Ships use high-powered water jets for propulsion and maneuvering.The littoral combat ship (LCS) is a class of relatively small surface vessels intended for operations in the littoral zone (close to shore) by the United States Navy. It was “envisioned to be a networked, agile, stealthy surface combatant capable of defeating anti-access and asymmetric threats in the littorals.”(wikipedia)

image credit: Science Channel

The new water jets replace earlier commercial jet systems and, according to the Navy, can pump out half a million gallons (1.9 million liters) of high-density seawater per minute, pushing the LCS at over 40 knots (46 mph, 74 km/h) while providing more power for less weight.

image credit: Science Channel

The engines were developed by Rolls-Royce Naval Marine in collaboration with the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, and their purpose is to increase the speed of the LCS while lowering running costs.


They do this in part by reducing cavitation, which is what happens when a poorly engineered propeller or turbine runs at high speed and generates bubbles. When these bubbles collapse, they produce spots of high temperature and shock waves that can severely damage equipment.

The LCS are a new class of warships designed to help the Navy deal with post-Cold War naval requirements. They come in two variants, a conventional hull and a trimaran, and are similar to corvettes, though with assault ship capabilities such as a landing deck, a hanger large enough for two SH-60 Sea Hawk helicopters and the ability to launch a small armored assault force.