Little Rock’s Maritime History Grows with LCS Honor

Navy selects Arkansas capital as name for ninth Littoral Combat Ship to be built by Lockheed Martin team


file The USS Little Rock will be a Freedom variant LCS, a fast, maneuverable and networked steel mono-hull surface combatant that will be built by a Lockheed Martin led team in Marinette, Wis. Photo courtesy U.S. Navy.

Little Rock’s origins date back to its maritime roots in the early 1700s. Explorers used a small rock formation on the south bank of the Arkansas River – named “la Petite Roche” (Little Rock) in 1721 by Jean-Baptiste Bénard de la Harpe– as a key landmark while navigating the river.

Little Rock’s maritime history began a new chapter on July 15 when Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced the next Freedom-class littoral combat ship (LCS) will be named the USS Little Rock (LCS 9). The Freedom variant LCS is built by a Lockheed Martin led team that includes naval architect Gibbs & Cox and ship builder Marinette Marine Corporation, a Fincantieri company.

Designed to defeat growing littoral threats and provide access and dominance in coastal waters, the Freedom-class LCS is a fast, maneuverable and networked steel mono-hull surface combatant. It provides the required warfighting capabilities and operational flexibility to execute focused missions close to shore, such as mine, anti-submarine and surface warfare.

With a speed in excess of 40 knots, the 378-foot long Little Rock will displace approximately 3,000 tons and will be built at Marinette Marine’s Wisconsin shipyard.

The Lockheed Martin-led team designed and constructed the first LCS, the USS Freedom, which was delivered to the Navy in 2008 and completed its first deployment to the U.S. Southern and U.S. Pacific Command areas of responsibility in 2010.

Work on LCS 3, the Fort Worth, is nearly complete at Marinette Marine. Formally christened and launched late last year, Fort Worth will continue to undergo outfitting and testing before delivery to the Navy for commissioning in 2012. Preparations are underway to begin construction of LCS 5 later this year.

In December, the U.S. Navy awarded the Lockheed Martin-led industry team a fixed-price-incentive-fee contract to construct up to 10 LCS. The Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a $437 million contract for the first ship in 2010, and the remaining LCS will be acquired via options through 2015.