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Littoral Combat Ship LCS 5 and LCS 6 Launches Mark Beginning of Serial Production

First ships procured under the block buy contract awarded in 2010

As the first littoral combat ship, USS Freedom (LCS 1), returned from deployment to the Western Pacific, two more were being launched in ceremonies at Marinette, Wisc., and Mobile, Ala., respectively.

The future USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) was christened and launched into the Menominee River at a Dec. 18 ceremony at the Marinette Marine shipyard in Marinette, Wisc.

These ships are the first vessels procured under the block buy contract awarded in 2010 and represent the true beginning of “serial production” for the class. With serial production, the Navy is able to realize benefits such as improved cost structure per vessel and reduced construction time.

Just four days earlier, the future USS Jackson (LCS 6) was launched by the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala.  Jackson will have her formal christening ceremony early next year.

Both ships will now undergo a period of fitting out and testing before joining the fleet.

Milwaukee (LCS 5)

The littoral combat ship Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Milwaukee (LCS 5) is prepared for its christening ceremony Dec. 18 at the Marinette Marine Corporation shipyard. U.S. Navy photo by Joe Mancini courtesy of Marinette Marine Corporation

These ships are the first vessels procured under the block buy contract awarded in 2010 and represent the true beginning of “serial production” for the class. With serial production, the U.S. Navy is able to realize benefits such as improved cost structure per vessel and reduced construction time.

The Navy’s LCS program features two distinctly different variants. The monohull USS Freedom variant is produced by a Lockheed Martin led industry team at Marinette. The trimaran design USS Independence variant is built by a team led by Austal USA. Milwaukee is a Freedom variant, and Jackson one of the Independence variants.

“With serial production lines now in full swing at both LCS building yards, we are looking forward to each new ship joining the fleet on a regular and consistent timeline,” said Rear Adm. Brian Antonio, program executive officer, Littoral Combat Ships. “This is a significant step for the program and the Navy.”

While they look different, both can be operated in the same way as fast, agile, focused-mission combatants designed to counter asymmetric threats in the littoral regions of the world. LCS uses reconfigurable mission packages to provide the necessary combat capability for one of three focused missions areas: anti-submarine warfare; mine warfare or surface warfare.

Both ships have significant internal volume for carrying containerized mission modules.  Both ships have gas turbines and waterjets that enable them to reach speeds approaching 50 knots.

Jackson (LCS 6)

USS Jackson (LCS 6) in the water at Austal USA, Mobile, Ala. Jackson was launched midway through December 2013, and is the third of the trimaran variants of the LCS. Austal photo by Bob Friedlieb

“Serial production is in full swing at both building yards and we are seeing ship construction milestones, like launch, hitting their marks,” said LCS Program Manager Capt. Tom Anderson.

“Serial production is in full swing at both building yards and we are seeing ship construction milestones, like launch, hitting their marks.”

“With serial production lines now in full swing at both LCS building yards, we are looking forward to each new ship joining the fleet on a regular and consistent timeline,” said Rear Adm. Brian Antonio, program executive officer, Littoral Combat Ships. “This is a significant step for the program and the Navy.”

Jackson and Coronado

Jackson (LCS 6) and Coronado (LCS 4). The Navy accepted delivery of the Coronado in September 2013. Austal photo by Bob Friedlieb

While there have been Navy ships named for people named Jackson, LCS 6 is the first named for the capital of Mississippi. LCS 5 is named for the largest city in Wisconsin and will be the fifth Navy ship to carry the name. The most recent was the USS Milwaukee (AOR-2), a 659-foot Wichita-class replenishment oiler, which served the fleet from 1969 to 1994.

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Capt. Edward H. Lundquist, U.S. Navy (Ret.) is a senior-level communications professional with more than...