MARINETTE, Wis. (NNS) -- The keel was laid and authenticated for the Navy's first Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) June 2 at Marinette Marine here.
The 378-foot LCS will be the first U.S. ship to carry this class designation.
"LCS Represents the cutting edge of a new Navy, the likes of which we have never seen before," said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark during his remarks at the ceremony. "It is a great personal privilege to confirm this keel on such a brave and bold future for our Navy."
The future USS Freedom (LCS 1) acknowledges the enduring foundation of the nation and honors American communities from coast to coast which bear the name Freedom. States having towns named Freedom range from New York to California, and include Indiana, Maine, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
"It strikes me that since freedom is what we are all about as a nation, this is a perfect name for LCS 1," said Clark.
Serving as ship's sponsor is Birgit Smith, the widow of Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith, who died in Operation Iraqi Freedom and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Smith and the CNO authenticated the keel by having their initials welded to the hull by veteran welder Jim Renner.
Freedom, the first of two dramatically different LCS seaframes being produced, will be optimized for littoral or coastal missions, focusing on high-speed maneuverability, agility and sprint speed. Designed to operate quickly in a shallow-water environment, the LCS is capable of speeds up to 45 knots and can operate in water less than 20 feet deep.
The LCS class will act as a platform for launch and recovery of manned and unmanned vehicles. Its modular design will support interchangeable mission packages, allowing the ship to be reconfigured for antisubmarine warfare, mine warfare or surface warfare missions on an as-needed basis. LCS will be able to swap out mission packages pierside in a matter of hours, adapting as the tactical situation demands. These ships will also feature advanced networking capability to share tactical information with other Navy aircraft, ships, submarines, and joint units.
"This idea - this ship - revolutionizes the capability of our nation and our Navy," said Clark.
In May 2004, the Department of the Navy awarded both Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics - Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, separate contract options for final system design with options for detail design and construction of up to two LCS ships. In December, the Navy awarded Lockheed Martin Corp., Maritime Systems & Sensors, Moorestown, N.J., a contract for detail design and construction of the first LCS. Lockheed Martin's teammates include Gibbs & Cox, Arlington, Va.; Marinette Marine, Marinette, Wis.; and Bollinger Shipyards, Lockport, La.
Production at Marinette is expected to culminate in late 2006 when the ship is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy.
For more information on the Littoral Combat Ship, visit the LCS Web site at http://peoships.crane.navy.mil/lcs/.
For related news, visit the Naval Sea Systems Command Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/navsea/.