The U.S. Navy’s tenth Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the future USS St. Louis (LCS 19), has completed her acceptance trials in Lake Michigan.
The ship is being built by a Lockheed Martin-led industry team at Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM)’s Marinette, Wisconsin facility. It will now undergo final outfitting and fine-tuning before the delivery to the Navy scheduled early next year.
“The LCS fleet is growing in numbers and capability, and LCS 19’s completion of acceptance trials means the Navy will shortly have 10 Freedom-variant fast, focused-mission ships in the fleet,” said Joe DePietro, Lockheed Martin vice president and general manager, Small Combatants and Ship Systems.
“As each Freedom-variant hull deploys, we seek out and incorporate fleet feedback and lessons learned to roll in capabilities for new hulls. As a result, LCS 19 includes a solid-state radar, upgraded communications suite, increased self-defense capabilities and topside optimization, among other updates”, he added.
“Progress on the Freedom-variant program and LCS 19’s achievement would not be possible without the expertise and effort of our shipbuilders at Fincantieri Marinette Marine, and our strong partnership with Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy,” said Jan Allman, Fincantieri Marinette Marine president and CEO. “We are dedicated to delivering an effective, capable product to our armed forces.”
“The strong performance during this Acceptance Trial is an important milestone in the life of the future USS St. Louis,” said LCS program manager Capt. Mike Taylor. “St. Louis will be an exceptional addition to the LCS fleet.”
Following delivery and commissioning, LCS 19 will sail to Florida to be homeported in Mayport with sister ships USS Milwaukee (LCS 5), USS Detroit (LCS 7), USS Little Rock (LCS 9), USS Sioux City (LCS 11), USS Wichita (LCS 13), USS Billings (LCS 15) and USS Indianapolis (LCS 17).
The LCS is a high speed, agile, shallow draft, mission-focused surface combatant of the U.S. Navy designed for operations in the littoral environment, yet fully capable of open ocean operations. It is a modular, reconfigurable ship designed to meet validated fleet requirements for anti-surface warfare (ASuW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and mine countermeasures (MCM) missions.
The LCS class consists of two variants, the Freedom-variant, and the Independence-variant, designed and built by two industry teams. The Freedom-variant team is led by Lockheed Martin (for the odd-numbered hulls). The Independence-variant team is led by Austal USA (for LCS 6 and the subsequent even-numbered hulls).
The Freedom-variant LCS ships are capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots and are automated with the most efficient staffing of any combat ship. They are equipped with Rolling Airframe Missiles (RAM) and a Mark 110 gun, capable of firing 220 rounds per minute, as standard and is flexible with 40 percent of the hull easily reconfigurable, integrating capabilities like the Longbow Hellfire Missiles, 30mm guns, and manned and unmanned vehicles targeted to meet future missions. LCS 19 is targeted to support the mine countermeasures mission.
Several more Freedom-variant ships are under construction at Fincantieri Marinette Marine Corp. in Marinette, Wisconsin. The future USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul (LCS 21) was christened in June and Cooperstown (LCS 23) is the next Freedom-variant ship to be christened in 2020. Additional ships in the production phase include the future USS Marinette (LCS 25), Nantucket (LCS 27) and Beloit (LCS 29), and Cleveland (LCS 31) in the pre-production phase.