The U.S. Navy issued a contract modification worth $698.9 million to Lockheed Martin and its partners, adding funding for the seventh and eighth Littoral Combat Ships in the 10-ship series that started with a December 2010 contract.
The LCS is a class of combat-capable ships designed for “multi-mission support,” including combat, in littoral zones (i.e., near to shore.) The first ship in the series was commissioned in 2008, and the Pentagon subsequently issued contracts for a total of 55 ships.
Due to subsequent changes in defense budgets, the total number of LCS vessels to be built has been reduced to 32.
There are two design variants for the LCS, designated the Freedom-class and Independence-class, after the first vessel in each series. Lockheed’s team designed and builds the Freedom-class ships, while Austal USA, a subsidiary of Australian shipbuilder Austal Ltd., builds the Independence-class ships according to a General Dynamics design.
The Lockheed consortium includes Marinette Marine Corp., which will build the ships in Marinette, Wis.; and naval architect Gibbs & Cox, which performs engineering and design support.
The new contract modification authorizes Lockheed et al. to begin building the USS Indianapolis (LCS 17) and the LCS 19, still unnamed.
The Lockheed team’s first ship in the 2010 contract series, the USS Milwaukee (LCS 5), was christened and launched in 2013. It is undergoing trials before delivery to the Navy in 2015.
Still to be completed by the Lockheed team are the USS Detroit (LCS 7), which will be christened and launched later this year; the USS Little Rock (LCS 9), USS Sioux City (LCS 11) and USS Wichita (LCS 13), all of which are in construction; and the USS Billings (LCS 15), construction of which will begin this year.
“Our industry team appreciates the U.S. Navy’s confidence in the LCS program as we continue down the learning curve to make these ships more capable and more affordable,” stated Joe North, vice president of Littoral Ship Systems at Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems and Training business. “We’ll continue to build best-in-class, cost effective ships for the Navy, supporting its need to defeat littoral threats and provide maritime access in critical waterways.”