A Lockheed Martin-led consortium has earned a $715-million U.S. Navy contract modification to finance construction of two Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), specifically, the third and fourth ships in a series of 10 awarded to the Lockheed team in December 2010. At that time, the Navy chose Lockheed to lead one of two teams building a total of 20 ships (Austal USA was chosen, too.)
The LCS program began in 2002 to build a total of 55 ships capable of “multi-mission support,” including combat, in littoral zones (i.e., near to shore.) Lockheed Martin designed and built the first LCS, USS Freedom, commissioned in 2008, and the third LCS is due for commissioning this year.
Lockheed said the contract modification is for its construction of Little Rock (LCS 9) and Sioux City (LCS 11). Construction is in progress on the first and second ships awarded under the 2010 contract, Milwaukee (LCS 5) and Detroit (LCS 7.) Two ships were built by Lockheed under previous contracts, including USS Freedom (LCS 1), now being prepared for deployment, and Fort Worth (LCS 3), due for commissioning in September.
Lockheed said its consortium includes over 700 supplier companies, including Marinette Marine Corp., which is building the ships in Marinette, Wis.
"Our shipbuilding program has benefited greatly from our experience with USS Freedom, resulting in increased affordability and streamlined production," stated Joe North, vice president of littoral ship systems at Lockheed Martin's Mission Systems & Sensors business. "We have listened to customer feedback from our lead ship and we continue to invest in areas that will bring additional efficiencies to the future LCS ships."