LCS Vital to the U.S.’s New Defense Strategy

The rigorous Builder’s Trials for LCS 3 included maneuverability tests, high-speed runs, power and navigation system checks, rescue boat launch and recovery, as well as many other ship and system evaluations.

The rigorous Builder’s Trials for LCS 3 included maneuverability tests, high-speed runs, power and navigation system checks, rescue boat launch and recovery, as well as many other ship and system evaluations.

U.S. President Barrack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta unveiled the United States’ new defense strategy earlier this year. A week later, the Navy gave some insight into how it will implement that new strategy.

In a Jan. 10 speech, Rear Adm. Thomas Rowden, director of the Navy’s surface warfare division, said plans call for an “aggressive fielding” strategy for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS).  Adding those ships to the fleet faster will enable the Navy to increase its presence in key areas such as the South China Sea and the Persian Gulf. The multi-mission LCS also will help the U.S. build relationships with the nation’s existing and potential allies in those regions, Rowden said.

Designed to defeat growing littoral threats, the LCS provides access and dominance in coastal waters. The Lockheed Martin-led LCS team’s Freedom variant features a semi-planing, steel monohull that offers outstanding agility and high-speed maneuverability.  The team includes naval architect Gibbs & Cox and ship builder Marinette Marine, as well as best-of-industry domestic and international teammates.

The LCS’s common combat system provides unprecedented interoperability with other U.S. ships, while reducing training costs. A reconfigurable seaframe increases the ship’s flexibility, and its shallow draft and narrow beam allow greater access to global ports, which is essential for the ship’s missions.

Lockheed Martin is doing its part to get the LCS to the fleet faster. The Lockheed Martin team built the nation’s first LCS – the USS Freedom – and delivered it in late 2008. The Navy deployed the ship two years ahead of schedule in 2010, and since then, Freedom has spent all of its time either deployed or in testing phases for the Navy.

 “(Freedom) has put over 55,000 (nautical miles) under her keel and is operational, continues to perform well and meets all requirements of the U.S. Navy,” said Joe North, vice president for Lockheed Martin’s Littoral Ship Systems. “Freedom has finished her formal post-delivery availability and we are in full stride preparing for deployment.”

Work on the team’s second LCS – the future USS Fort Worth – is on budget, on time and 99 percent complete. The ship will undergo Navy acceptance trials this spring. Construction of the next two Freedom variant ships is underway at the Marinette Marine shipyard in Wisconsin.

An MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 77 lifts off from the littoral combat ship USS Freedom. (U.S. Navy photo by Aaron Burnden)

An MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 77 lifts off from the littoral combat ship USS Freedom. (U.S. Navy photo by Aaron Burnden)


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