The US Navy commissioned the USS WICHITA (LCS 13) – the nation's seventh FREEDOM-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) – at Naval Station Mayport, FL/USA, on 12 January. Unique among combat ships, the LCS is designed to complete close-to-shore missions and is a growing and relevant part of the navy's fleet:
- It is fast — capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots;
- It is automated — with the most efficient staffing of any combat ship;
- It is lethal — standard equipment includes Rolling Airframe Missiles (RAM) and a Mark 110 gun, capable of firing 220rpm;
- It is flexible — with 40% of the hull easily reconfigurable, integrating capabilities like LONGBOW HELLFIRE missiles, 30mm guns, and manned and unmanned vehicles, targeted to meet today's and tomorrow's missions, is simpole to achieve.
The LCS is a highly manoeuvrable, lethal and adaptable ship, designed to support focused mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare missions. It is enabled with the COMBATSS-21 Combat Management System, built from Lockheed Martin's AEGIS Common Source Library, which drives commonality among the fleet. The FREEDOM-variant LCS integrates new technology and capability to affordably support current and future mission capability from deep water to the littorals.
"People ask me about [the] Littoral Combat Ship. Is it a new cruiser or destroyer? Actually it's neither. It's an entirely new category of warship. The LCS packs quite a hefty punch for such a small package,“ commented LCS 13's Commanding Officer, Cdr Nathan Rowan.
There are seven ships in various stages of production and test at Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Wisconsin, where the FREEDOM-variant LCS is built. The next FREEDOM-variant in the class is LCS 15, the future USS BILLINGS, slated for delivery this spring.
"We consider it a privilege to support the men and women who will sail this great ship, protecting the United States and our allies," observed President and CEO of Fincantieri Marinette Marine, Jan Allman. "On behalf of the two thousand individuals that crafted the LCS 13, we congratulate the US Navy and the outstanding crew of the USS WICHITA."