On Your Mark … Get Set …Go! LCS 17, 19 at the Starting Line

Future USS Indianapolis and to-be-named LCS 19 awarded to Lockheed Martin team

LCS-3-San-Diego-Nov-2013-680 USS Fort Worth, the second Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), was delivered two months early to the U.S. Navy. Here, it operates off the coast of San Diego in November 2013, from where it will depart later this year for its first deployment. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy.

On March 10, 2014, the U.S. Navy awarded a Lockheed Martin-led team a $698.9 million contract modification to build two more Littoral Combat Ships (LCS 17 and 19) as the industry team continues to move the four other ships under construction closer to the finish line.

LCS 17 (the future USS Indianapolis) and LCS 19 (yet to be named) are the seventh and eighth of a 10-ship contract originally awarded to Lockheed Martin in 2010. The first ship on this 2010 contract, the USS Milwaukee (LCS 5), was christened and launched in 2013, and is undergoing trials before delivery to the Navy in 2015. The future USS Detroit (LCS 7) will be christened and launched later this year.

Little Rock (LCS 9), Sioux City (LCS 11) and Wichita (LCS 13) are all in various stages of construction. Billings (LCS 15) will begin construction this year.

“Our industry team appreciates the U.S. Navy’s confidence in the LCS program as we continue down the learning curve to make these ships more capable and more affordable,” said Joe North, vice president of Littoral Ship Systems at Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems and Training business. “We’ll continue to build best-in-class, cost effective ships for the Navy, supporting its need to defeat littoral threats and provide maritime access in critical waterways.”

Shipyard upgrades have streamlined production and made ship construction more cost-efficient. Fincantieri, the parent company of Marinette Marine Corp., the industry team partner building the ship, and Lockheed Martin have invested more than $74 million in the Marinette facility. Among the improvements are technology upgrades that increase efficiency and minimize energy consumption, an expansion that will allow for construction of more than two ships at a time, and process improvements that will speed up production.

The team has also incorporated best practices and lessons learned from USS Freedom (LCS 1) and USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) in as early as the second ship, which is unprecedented in shipbuilding. Future hulls have added an electrical start capability for the ship’s gas turbine engines, reducing cost, weight and time needed to start the gas turbines. In addition, future hulls will have a smaller side door for personnel and material transfer, further reducing the ship’s weight and improving operability. Finally, the team leveraged a new axial flow waterjet design developed by the U.S. Navy and Office of Naval Research, which will enhance performance and expand the operational envelope.

USS Freedom (LCS 1) completed a successful deployment to Southeast Asia in 2013, participating in several multinational exercises, and contributing to Operation Damayan relief efforts. USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), delivered two months early and commissioned to the fleet in 2012, will deploy in 2014 from her home port of San Diego.

Nearly 900 suppliers across 43 states are contributing to the Freedom variants.