The littoral combat ship (LCS-1) USS Freedom was commissioned last week in Milwaukee and is the Navy's first of a new
wave of ships designed to patrol "close to shore" (which is the meaning of the Latin
root of littoral). Built by Marinette Marine in northeastern Wisconsin, Freedom
will be used within 200 miles of shorelines to neutralize pirates, mines, terrorists,
subs, druggies and launch special ops teams. Steering is controlled by joysticks
not a wheel and the ship is propelled by twin diesels and twin jet turbines driving
through four water jets.
The 377' USS Freedom is designed
for inshore interdictions and special ops.
She is said to have a WOT of 40 knot. Can
we believe what they say?
Littoral combat ships require only a 40-member crew, including just three people
to operate the ship from the bridge. Two crews will alternate four-month tours of
sea duty, rotating between Freedom and what is said to be her eventual base in San
There's no steering wheel - joysticks handle that function. And instead of propellers,
Freedom uses four water jets - two inboard, two outboard - to move through the water
like a jet ski, Chief Petty Officer Joe Radford said. The water jets are so powerful
they could fill an Olympic-size swimming pool in 10 seconds, it is reported.
The superstructure design is stealthy.
Cameras throughout the ship double as heat sensors to detect fires without having
to send a sailor into danger. The ship's side can be opened to move a torpedo-like
mine detection system into the water, the transom can be opened to launch small
boats to catch pirates or drug smugglers, and a large hole in the overhead can be
used to move in large metal boxes containing combat mission packages. Sitting on
a helipad was a helicopter that can be used to find and detonate underwater mines.
Her stern is a huge garage for numerous small
It's all designed for versatility and speed. The ship tops out at 40 knots, it is
reported, but we suspect she may be able to go a lot faster. She is said to be able
to turn 360 degrees in less than eight boat lengths at sprint speed.
Arguably, her most important feature is that she is a modular ship. That means she
can be reconfigured to carry a variety of combat packages targeted for specific
missions. She will be able to interdict ships on the high seas, conduct intelligence,
surveillance and reconnaissance, and provide anti-terrorism force protection, including
employment of special operations forces. She will support launching and recovering
small boats for use by such special forces. She can carry two SH-60 Seahawk helicopters
and unmanned aerial vehicles.
How stealthy is that rooster tail?
The LCS carries the nomenclature "littoral" for a reason. Littoral means the ship
will operate close to shorelines, which means she can operate where larger warships
cannot. She can more easily support insertion and extraction of small numbers of
BAE Mk 110 57mm gun.
Remember the good old days when U.S. battleships used to stand off just over over
the horizon and lob 16" shells into targets? Well, those days are gone and Freedom
has a far more diversified arsnal to unleash. Her mission modules will feature the
BAE Mk 110 57mm gun, RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missiles, and Honeywell MK 50 Torpedo.
RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missiles.
The system envisions having two kinds of missiles, both precision attack. The Loitering
Attack Missile LAM is an expendable, hunter-killer that can loiter, search out a
target over a large area, and attack a target using its automatic target recognition
system. The Precision Attack Missile PAM is a direct attack missile. LAM will be
used for fleeting targets, while PAM for fixed and stationary targets.
Just in case Al Qaeda gets a submarine, Freedom
The Power Plants...
LCS-1 is powered by two Fairbanks Morse Colt-Pielstick 16PA6B STC diesel powerplants
and two Rolls Royce MT30 gas turbines driving four Kamewa waterjets. She will be
interconnected to many other naval elements, satellites, airborne vehicles and command
Cost overruns scuttled original plans to build 55 littoral combat ships when the
target price of $220 million more than doubled. However, last week the Navy asked
Lockheed and General Dynamics to submit bids to build five more.About Marinette Marine...
Marinette Marine was founded in 1942 to meet our WWII and beyond naval construction
demands. Its first contract was to build five wooden barges. Its record of achievement
includes building US Coast Guard (USCG) icebreakers and buoy tenders, USN mine countermeasures
vessels and ocean tugs, as well as ferries, dredges and tugs. It is presently part
of the Manitowoc Marine Group, which is also located in Wisconsin. The company has
produced over 1,300 vessels, commercial and military.
You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet...
LCS-2, the USS Independence, is being built
by General Dynamics's Bath Ironwoks in Mobile, Alabama. She has a completely different
design. She uses an aluminum trimaran hull while the Freedom employs a steel semi-planing
hull. Hold on to your hats...and wallets.