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Littoral Combat Ship Class - LCS

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.

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.


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.


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. These ships will be dedicated to execute mission module test and evaluation, 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.

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. Currently, a total of 33 LCS are planned: 16 ships have been delivered (LCS 1-14, 16 and 18); 10 additional LCS are under various stages of construction and three are in the pre-construction phase.

USS Freedom (LCS 1) was delivered to the Navy on Sept. 18, 2008. USS Independence (LCS 2) was delivered on Dec. 18, 2009. These initial ships of each variant were followed by USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) and USS Coronado (LCS 4), which were delivered on June 6, 2012 and Sept. 27, 2013, respectively. USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) and USS Jackson (LCS 6) delivered in 2015; USS Detroit (LCS 7), USS Montgomery (LCS 8) and USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) delivered in 2016; USS Little Rock (LCS 9) and USS Omaha (LCS 12) delivered in 2017; and to date USS Manchester (LCS 14), USS Tulsa (LCS 16), USS Sioux City (LCS 11), USS Wichita (LCS 13), and USS Charleston (LCS 18) have delivered in 2018.

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.

Contracts were awarded to Lockheed Martin and Austal USA in December 2010 for the construction of up to 10 ships each (FY 2010 - FY 2015), beginning with LCS 5 and LCS 6. USS Jackson (LCS 6), the first of the block-buy ships, delivered to the Navy on Aug. 11, 2015 and commissioned on Dec. 5, 2015. USS Milwaukee (LCS 5), the first of the Freedom variant block-buy ships, was delivered to the Navy on Oct. 16, 2015 and commissioned on Nov. 21, 2015. USS Jackson (Independence-variant) and USS Milwaukee (Freedom-variant) each completed back-to-back Full Ship Shock Trials (FSST) in 4th quarter FY 2016, an unprecedented achievement to complete these trials on two different ships in a single test period.

In March 2016, a contract option was exercised with each shipbuilder for the construction of LCS 25 and LCS 26.

In September 2016, a Request for Proposal was released for bids to build LCS 27 and LCS 28 with a priced option for a third ship in FY17 (should Congress authorize and appropriate funds for one) as well as block buy option pricing to bring the LCS fleet up to 40 ships beginning in FY18. On June 23, 2017 a contract was awarded to Austal USA for the construction of one FY 2017 LCS (LCS 28). On October 6, 2017, Lockheed Martin was awarded a contract for the construction of one FY 2017 LCS (LCS 27) and Austal was awarded and funded for the construction of LCS 30 (which is the third ship that was authorized by Congress in FY17). Pending.

In March 2018, a Request for Proposal was released for bids to build three FY 2018 LCS, with not-to-exceed options for FY 2019 LCS (should Congress authorize and appropriate funds) to bring the LCS fleet up to 33 ships. At the time of this update, contract award is expected by the end of the year.
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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
PCU Billings (LCS 15) - under construction
PCU Indianapolis (LCS 17) - under construction
USS St. Louis (LCS 19) - under construction
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
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) - commissioned
USS Charleston (LCS 18), San Diego, California - Commissioned
USS Independence (LCS 2), San Diego, California
PCU Cincinnati (LCS 20) - under construction
PCU Kansas City (LCS 22) - under construction
PCU Oakland (LCS 24) - under construction
PCU Mobile (LCS 26) - under construction
PCU Savannah (LCS 28) - in pre-production phase
PCU Canberra (LCS 30) - in pre-production phase
PCU Santa Barbara (LCS 32) - awarded and 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
Last Update: 5 March 2019