Littoral Combat Ship Class - LCS

Last updated: 10 Mar 2020

LCS is a fast, agile, mission-focused- platform designed for operation in near-shore environments yet capable of open-ocean operation. It is designed to defeat asymmetric "anti-access" threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft.

The LCS class consists of two variants, the Freedom variant and the Independence variant, designed and built by two industry teams. The Freedom variant team is led by Lockheed Martin (for the odd-numbered hulls, e.g. LCS 1). It is a steel monohull design constructed by Lockheed Martin in the Fincantieri Marinette Marine Corporation's shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin. The Independence variant is an aluminum trimaran design originally built by an industry team led by General Dynamics Bath Iron Works for LCS 2 and LCS 4. Currently, Independence variant LCS (LCS 6 and subsequent even-numbered hulls) are constructed by Austal USA in the company's Mobile, Alabama, shipyard.

LCSs are outfitted with mission packages (made up of mission systems and support equipment) that deploy manned and unmanned vehicles and sensors in support of mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare or surface warfare missions.


The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program is a departure from traditional Navy shipbuilding programs based on its use of innovative acquisition, construction, manning, training and operational concepts. The LCS sustainment strategy not only accommodates the unique design and minimal manning of LCS, but also the associated mission modules. Elements of this strategy include reliance on off-ship support, a paradigm of maintenance execution focused on monthly preventive maintenance periods, non-crew performance of preventive and facilities maintenance, a Blue and Gold crewing model and reliance on shore-based and virtual training for off-hull and pre-commissioning crews. LCS Fleet Introduction and Sustainment Program Office (PMS 505) was established in 2011 to consolidate all aspects of LCS sustainment, training and logistics into a single program office to streamline processes and personnel previously scattered across multiple ship classes and locations. The training and logistics branches of PMS 505 support the seaframe and mission package acquisition program offices to improve products and understanding from construction through fleet introduction and sustainment. With the plan for multiple ships and mission modules to deliver annually, consolidating these support functions was deemed the most efficient and cost effective solution, providing direct support to the acquisition manager during the acquisition phase, the production manager during the production phase, as well as the sustainment manager during in-service operations. Twelve LCSs (LCS 1-LCS 10, LCS 12 and LCS 14) have transitioned to sustainment.

Shore Support

Under the LCS sustainment concept, many legacy shipboard functions of logistics, maintenance and training are moved ashore, thus removing these functions from the ship's crew and allowing for a reduction in underway crew size. To support a minimally-manned ship, a modest shore support organization exists to provide the latest distance support tools. The Maintenance Support Team (MST) is the enabler for LCS distance support. MSTs coordinate with the Regional Maintenance Center (RMCs), Mission Package Support Facility (MPSF) and Mission Module Readiness Centers (MMRCs), and supply enterprise for all LCS maintenance and logistics issues. The staffs of the LCS Squadron (LCSRON), LCS Training Facility (LTF) and Surface Ship Type Commander (TYCOM) Afloat Training Group (ATG) provide training and certification functions.

There are three primary facilities designed to support LCS. The LCS Support Facility (LSF), has offices for the LCSRON staff, off-ship core crews and mission package (MP) detachments and pre-commissioning crews. The LTF houses key training equipment for qualification and certification of crews and detachments. The MPSF and MMRCs provide sustainment and depot maintenance support for mission modules. In concert with LCSRON commodore, these three organizational elements fully support the ships and mission modules at home and deployed. MMRCs are focused on day to day homeport and forward OCONUS maintenance, embarks/debarks and material support. MPSF provides reach-back for those functions, but is also the long-term MP storage, deep-stock spares and repair parts storage, Production Acceptance Testing, and modernization.


Unlike most surface ships, traditional crew level maintenance for LCS is pushed ashore and corrective maintenance is performed using distance support and fly-away teams. The LCS sustainment strategy calls for frequent maintenance periods as part of the ship's operational schedule - normally five days per month for standard preventive maintenance and quarterly for more significant corrective maintenance. Much of the work accomplished during these planned maintenance availabilities (PMAVs) and continuous maintenance availabilities (CMAVs) is conducted by contracted U.S.-based maintenance teams. Support for deployed hulls is accomplished with tailored fly-away teams of U.S. contractors.


LCS is moving toward a Blue/Gold crew model which alternate manning the ship. This concept creates six divisions (three per coast) comprised of four ships of the same variant - including one as a dedicated training ship, which will be manned by a traditional, single crew vice rotating crews. The training ship in each division will remain in the United States and operate in local areas to certify the six Blue/Gold crews that will operate the three deployed LCSs of each division. Each division will have a single warfare focus (surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare or mine warfare); the ship core crews and mission module detachments will be fused. This approach provides more forward presence with a better blend of ownership, stability, and increased training for each crew, while the divisions have improved oversight and reinforcement of the mission focus.


LCS has completed its Live Fire Test & Evaluation (LFT&E) program. This included the conduct of two back-to-back Full Ship Shock Trials (FSST) in 2016 on LCS 5 of the Freedom variant and LCS 6 of the Independence variant. No other shipbuilding program has ever conducted two FSSTs in a single year. Both LCS variants have completed Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) and achieved Initial Operational Capability (IOC).

The first four ships of the LCS class- two of each variant- have been designated "test ships" to support the mission modules through Initial Operational Capability (IOC) testing. USS Freedom (LCS 1) delivered to the Navy on Sept. 18, 2008. USS Independence (LCS 2) was delivered on Dec. 18, 2009. USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) and USS Coronado (LCS 4) delivered on June 6, 2012 and Sept. 27, 2013, respectively. These four ships are dedicated to executing mission module test and evaluation events, as new systems are procured or designed prior to deployment. While deployable, they are not expected to deploy until known mission modules achieve IOC later this decade.


A key enabler of LCS rotational crewing is the LCS shore-based training and certification capability, which represents a significant advancement in the surface force approach to qualification of individual watchstanders and teams. Crew training is based on a virtual ship-centric concept, accomplished through a combination of classroom instruction, vendor training, shore-based trainers and sophisticated virtual reality training systems. This ensures LCS ships deploy with fully qualified sailors, a ship Key Performance Parameter, without hindering their ability to be adequately trained, as well as ensuring time spent on LCS is time operating LCS.
VIDEO | 01:36 | Littoral Combat Ships - Role In The Fleet


Initiated in February 2002, the LCS program represents a reduction in time to acquire, design and build ships in comparison to any previous ship class. A total of 35 LCS have been awarded to date: 19 ships have been delivered (LCS 1-18 and 20); 11 additional LCSs are under various stages of construction and five are in the pre-construction phase. FY 2019 was the final year programmed for LCS seaframes.

The Navy's LCS acquisition strategy to down select to a single design in 2010 resulted in a highly effective competition and an industry response that produced significant savings in the LCS program. These competitive bids, coupled with the Navy's desire to increase ship procurement rates to support operational requirements, created an opportunity to award both bidders a fixed-price, 10-ship block buy for a total of 20 ships (10 of each variant) from fiscal years (FY) 2010 to 2015. In March 2016, a contract option was exercised with each shipbuilder for the construction of LCS 25 and LCS 26.

The Navy's LCS acquisition strategy to down select to a single design in 2010 resulted in a highly effective competition and an industry response that produced significant savings in the LCS program. These competitive bids, coupled with the Navy's desire to increase ship procurement rates to support operational requirements, created an opportunity to award both bidders a fixed-price, 10-ship block buy for a total of 20 ships from fiscal years (FY) 2010 to 2015.

USS Jackson (LCS 6), the first of Independence variant block-buy ships, was delivered to the Navy Aug. 11, 2015, and commissioned Dec. 5, 2015. USS Milwaukee (LCS 5), the first of the Freedom-variant block-buy ships, was delivered to the Navy Oct. 16, 2015, and commissioned Nov. 21, 2015.

USS Detroit (LCS 7), USS Montgomery (LCS 8) and USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) were delivered in 2016; USS Little Rock (LCS 9) and USS Omaha (LCS 12) were delivered in 2017; USS Sioux City (LCS 11), USS Wichita (LCS 13), USS Manchester (LCS 14), USS Tulsa (LCS 16) and USS Charleston (LCS 18) were delivered in 2018; USS Billings (LCS 15), USS Indianapolis (LCS 17) and USS Cincinnati (LCS 20) were delivered in 2019. All of these ships have been commissioned and eight of the block-buy ships have transitioned to sustainment. LCS 19, 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26 are in some phase of construction.

In accordance with the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (USD (A&S)) (formerly Acquisition Technology and Logistics (USD (AT&L)) approved 2017 and 2018 LCS acquisition strategies and ship quantities authorized/appropriated by the Congress, a total of nine ships were awarded in FY 2017-2019.

In 2017, the Navy awarded Austal USA a contract for the construction of two FY 2017 LCSs (LCS 28 and LCS 30), and Lockheed Martin a contract for the construction of one FY 2017 LCS (LCS 27). Contract modifications in 2018 awarded three FY 2018 ships, LCS 32 and 34 to Austal and LCS 29 to Lockheed Martin. Contract modifications in FY 2019 supported the award of three FY 2019 ships, LCS 36 and 38 to Austal and LCS 31 to Lockheed Martin. LCS 28, 29 and 30 are in construction. LCS 31, 32, 34, 36 and 38 are in pre-production. FY 2019 is the last year of procurement of LCS.
General Characteristics, Freedom variant
Builder: Lockheed Martin
Length: 387.6 feet (118.1 meters)
Beam: 57.7 feet (17.6 meters)
Displacement: approximately 3,450 MT full load
Draft: 14.1 feet (4.3 meters)
Speed: 40+ knots
USS Freedom (LCS 1), San Diego, California
USS Sioux City (LCS 11), Mayport, Florida
USS Wichita (LCS 13), Naval Station Mayport
USS Billings (LCS 15), Mayport, Florida
USS Indianapolis (LCS 17) - Mayport, Florida
PCU St. Louis (LCS 19) - undergoing trials
PCU Minneapolis-St. Paul (LCS 21) - under construction
PCU Cooperstown (LCS 23) - under construction
PCU Marinette (LCS 25) - under construction
PCU Nantucket (LCS 27) - in pre-production phase
PCU Beloit (LCS 29) - awarded and in pre-production phase
USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), San Diego, California
PCU Cleveland (LCS 31) - in pre-production phase
USS Milwaukee (LCS 5), Mayport, Florida
USS Detroit (LCS 7), Mayport, Florida
USS Little Rock (LCS 9), Mayport, Florida
General Characteristics, Independence variant
Builder: General Dynamics (LCS 2 and LCS 4), Austal USA (LCS 6 and follow)
Length: 421.5 feet (128.5 meters)
Height: 126.3 feet (38.5 meters)
Beam: 103.7 feet (31.6 meters)
Displacement: approximately 3,200 MT full load
Draft: 15.1 feet (4.6 meters)
USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10), San Diego, California
USS Omaha (LCS 12), San Diego, California
USS Manchester (LCS 14), San Diego, California
USS Tulsa (LCS 16), San Diego, California
USS Charleston (LCS 18), San Diego, California
USS Independence (LCS 2), San Diego, California
USS Cincinnati (LCS 20), San Diego, California
PCU Kansas City (LCS 22) - delivered
PCU Oakland (LCS 24) - under construction
PCU Mobile (LCS 26) - under construction
PCU Savannah (LCS 28) - under construction
PCU Canberra (LCS 30) - under construction
PCU Santa Barbara (LCS 32) - in pre-production phase
PCU Augusta (LCS 34) - in pre-production phase
PCU Kingsville (LCS 36) - in pre-production phase
PCU Pierre (LCS 38) - in pre-production phase
USS Coronado (LCS 4), San Diego, California
USS Jackson (LCS 6), San Diego, California
USS Montgomery (LCS 8), San Diego, California

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