Lockheed Martin and its consortium partner Fincantieri Marinette Marine have delivered the future USS Little Rock (LCS 9) to the U.S. Navy, the fifth of the Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ships they have delivered since 2008. According to a Lockheed statement, at a commissioning ceremony scheduled for later this year, the new vessel will be the first U.S. Navy ship to be commissioned next to its decommissioned namesake. The previous USS Little Rock (CL-92), a Cleveland-class cruiser launched in 1945, converted to a Galveston-class cruiser in the 1950s, and serving in that capacity as CLG-4 and CG-4 until decommissioning in 1976. It is currently part of the museum at Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park in that city.
"We look forward to the day the future USS Little Rock joins the fleet. Her superb sea trials performance highlights the success of the production and performance improvements achieved as a result of serial production," stated Joe DePietro, Lockheed’s vice president of small surface combatants and ship systems.
The LCS vessels are combat-capable ships designed for “multi-mission support” in littoral zones (i.e., near to shore.) The first ship in the series was commissioned in 2005, and the Pentagon has issued contracts for a total of 55 ships. While the Lockheed team is responsible for the Freedom-class LCS vessels, a separate consortium led by Austal USA is responsible for the Independence-class LCS vessels.
Each Freedom-class LCS vessel carries a reported cost of $362 million.
In addition to Lockheed as the consortium-leader and Marinette, Wis.-based shipbuilder Fincantieri Marinette Marine, the team includes naval architect Gibbs & Cox and more than 800 suppliers. They previously completed the USS Freedom, USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), USS Milwaukee (LCS 5), and USS Detroit (LCS 7.)
The Freedom-class consortium has three more LCS vessels (LCS 11, 13, and 15) in the fitting-out stage, and four more under construction.
Once commissioned, LCS 9 will be based at Naval Station Mayport, in Florida.
Lockheed reported that LCS 9 completed acceptance trials in August with the highest score of any Freedom-variant LCS to date, earning a "clean sweep." During sea trials, the industry team also successfully demonstrated performance improvements that will be incorporated into future Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ships.