COMMISSIONING AWAITS FREEDOM,
INDEPENDENCE READIES FOR SEA TRIALS
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
The Navy, on Nov. 8, will
commission its first
Littoral Combat Ship
(LCS), Freedom, beginning an
intensive evaluation period in
which the LCS will be tested with
three tailor-made mission packages
— for mine countermeasures
(MCM), surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) — that
will define its roles in the fleet.
Freedom, built by a team led by
Lockheed Martin, will be commissioned in ceremonies in Milwaukee.
The second LCS, Independence, a trimaran design built by a team led by General Dynamics,
was launched at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala.,
April 29 and is scheduled for sea trials this winter. Each
of the ships will be evaluated beginning in 2009 with the
Freedom and Independence will be manned with two
40-person crews — Blue and Gold — that will alternate taking the ships to sea, enabling the Navy to maximize their time deployed.
The Navy has a lot riding on the high-speed LCS,
particularly the service’s goal of reaching an overall
fleet size of 313 or more warships, of which 55 are
intended to be LCS’. As of early September, the fleet
numbered 281 deployable ships.
The LCS is expected to support aspects of the Navy
and Marine Corps’ maritime strategy, especially ensur-
Race Car at Sea
The first Littoral Combat Ship, Freedom, will be commissioned next
month. Evaluations of three mission packages will begin next year.
■ Fast and maneuverable, Freedom passed sea trials and
acceptance by the Navy.
■ The second LCS, the trimaran Independence, begins sea trials
■ Delivery of a third mission package completes the lineup for
ing access in the littoral waters for U.S. maritime forces
and maritime security engagement with foreign forces.
Freedom and Independence will be compared by the
Navy, but the course of action in selecting one or both
designs for serial production has yet to be finalized. In
April 2007, Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter
said that a single design would be selected in 2010, but
left the option open to build both designs for a mixed
fleet of Freedom- and Independence-class ships.
The intended second ships of each class, LCS 3 and
LCS 4, respectively, were canceled last year before keels
were laid when the program faced cost overruns and
some funds intended for the later ships were diverted to
cover the first two. The Navy will not reissue those hull
numbers, said Alan Baribeau, a spokesman for the
Navy’s program executive officer for ships.