USN receives fifth Independence variant LCS (LCS9) from Lockheed Martin and Fincantieri Marinette Marine.
On 25 September Lockheed Martin announced that it had delivered to the US Navy (USN), together with building partner Fincantieri Marinette Marine, /FMM)), the fifth Independence variant of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), USS Little Rock (LCS9). The ship is scheduled for commissioning in Buffalo at the end of 2017, and her port will be Naval Station Mayport, where she will join USS Milwaukee (LCS5) and USS Detroit (LCS7).
The LCS programme includes two classes of ships: the ‘Freedom’ class, built by Lockheed Martin and Fincantieri Marinette Marine, and the ‘Independence’ class, built by Austal. Since the beginning of the programme, both classes of ships have been the object of severe criticism as it appeared that the ships’ design, dating back to the early 2000s when maritime tensions and geopolitics significantly differed from those of today, would likely not withstand battle – especially in the Pacific region, which has seen increased military assertiveness from China. Since then, both shipbuilders have worked with the USN to address issues as they were identified.
In this context, LCS 9 successfully completed acceptance trials last month, during which the industry team demonstrated performance improvements that will be incorporated into all future ‘Freedom’ variant LCS. LCS 9 sea trials received the highest score of any ‘Freedom’ class LCS to date.
“Today’s important milestone for LCS 9 was made possible by the investment and improvements made to our serial production line, which allowed us to realise our vision for a full flex shipyard,” said Jan Allman, FMM President and CEO. “Fincantieri Marinette Marine’s shipbuilders are proud to deliver this proven warship, and we look forward to working with the U.S. Navy to continue building these highly capable ships for the fleet.“
The Lockheed Martin and Fincantieri Marinette Marine team is currently in full-rate production of the ‘Freedom’ class LCS: LCS 1, 3, 5 and 7 have all been commissioned between November 2008 and October 2016; LCS 11, 13 and 15 have been launched between January 2016 and July 2017; LCS 17 and 19 are under construction; LCS 21 and 23 are un pre-production; and, the contract to build LCS 25 was awarded in 2016, with a scheduled delivery for 2020.