The first two littoral combat ship (LCS) variants were under way together for the first time recently off Southern California. USS Freedom (LCS 1) and USS Independence (LCS 2) represent a new breed of fast, agile, flexible focused-mission surface combatants designed to deal with anti-access threats in the littoral, the regions where the land and oceans meet.
The two ships represent two different designs for LCS. USS Freedom is a 379-foot monohull built by a team led by Lockheed Martin at Marinette Marine on the Menomenee River in Wisconsin. USS Independence – a 418-foot trimaran – was built by a General Dynamics-led team at Austal USA in Mobile, Ala.
LCS 1 was commissioned in 2008 and has been operating from her homeport of San Diego since 2010. LCS 2 just arrived in San Diego.
The future USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) successfully completed acceptance trials in Lake Michigan May 4. LCS 3 is expected to commission at Galveston, Texas in September 2012. Milwaukee (LCS 5) is under construction at Marinette Marine.
Coronado (LCS 4) was launched and christened at Mobile in January of this year and is expected to be commissioned in early 2013. Austal expects to build at least ten more ships of the Independence-class variant. Jackson (LCS 6) is also building at the Austal USA shipyard.
Sailors assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Coronado (LCS 4) Blue and Gold Crews embarked aboard Independence to learn about how the ship and crew operate at sea as during the transit through the Panama Canal and its new homeport of San Diego.
“Fort Worth performed extremely well during its trials,” said LCS Program Manager Capt. John Neagley. “The ship’s level of completion coupled with Marinette Marine’s excellent craftsmanship resulted in relatively few material deficiencies.”
“During the four-day trial, the Navy conducted comprehensive tests intended to demonstrate the performance of the propulsion plant, ship handling and auxiliary systems,” said Naval Sea Systems Command spokesman Chris Johnson. “This improved performance in comparison to the first ship of the class is a result of design stability, facility improvements and production efficiencies by the shipbuilder.”
Johnson said the ship was presented to the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) with high levels of completion.
“The Navy continues to remain committed to a 55 ship LCS program and is leveraging competition, fixed-price contracting and serial production to reduce construction duration and costs,” Johnson said.