Lockheed Martin and Fincantieri Marinette Marine delivered two more Littoral Combat Ships to the U.S. Navy, the future USS Sioux City, LCS 11, and USS Wichita, LCS 13. This brings to seven the total number of Freedom-class littoral combat ships (LCS) that the Lockheed/FMM consortium has delivered under its contract for 14 vessels.
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 56 ships. While the Lockheed team is responsible for the Freedom-class LCS vessels, a separate consortium led by Austal USA is responsible the Independence-class LCS vessels.
Led by Lockheed, the Freedom-class LCS consortium includes Fincantieri Marinette Marine, which builds the vessels at its shipyard in Marinette, Wis. Engineering support is provided by naval architect Gibbs & Cox, Arlington, Va. According to Lockheed, the team has invested over $100 million to modernize the Wisconsin shipyard, and hire and train workers for the program.
Freedom-class ships have a modular design with a steel “monohull” (Lockheed has called it “a proven, survivable design, … recognized for its stability and reliability.”) Forty percent of the shipboard space is reconfigurable, so the hull can accommodate additional weaponry and “survivability” upgrades.
Each ship is 378 ft. long and has a displacement of 3,900 tons. Each is powered by two Rolls-Royce MT30 36-MW gas turbines, two Colt-Pielstick diesel engines, and four Rolls-Royce waterjets. Reportedly, each ship carries a unit cost of $362 million.
Lockheed describes the Freedom-class LCS as “a highly maneuverable, lethal, and adaptable ship, designed to support focused-missions in the areas of mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare.”
"LCS is a highly affordable, increasingly lethal and versatile ship," said Joe DePietro, vice president of Lockheed Martin's Small Combatants and Ship Systems. "LCS is a growing component in the U.S. Navy surface force, designed to fulfill critical missions around the world now and in the future."
LCS 11 is the sixth Freedom-class LCS designed and built by the Lockheed/FMM consortium. It will be commissioned at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., on November 17.
LCS 13 is the seventh Freedom-class LCS for the consortium industry team, and it will be commissioned this winter. Both ships will be homeported at Naval Station Mayport, Fla., where three previously delivered Freedom-class vessels are stationed.