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US Navy’s Latest Littoral Combat Ship Completes Acceptance Trials

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US Navy’s Latest Littoral Combat Ship Completes Acceptance Trials

The U.S. Navy’s latest warship completed acceptance trials in late August.

US Navy’s Latest Littoral Combat Ship Completes Acceptance Trials
Credit: US Navy Photo

The Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) USS Little Rock has completed acceptance trials on the Great Lakes on August 25, the U.S. Navy reports in a September 1 press release.

The acceptance trials, which included a series of graded in-port and underway demonstrations, were conducted by the U.S. Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey, the service’s principal body inspecting and reporting on a ship’s readiness for active duty operations.

“The acceptance trial is the last significant milestone before delivery of the ship to the Navy, which is planned for this fall,” the statement reads. The U.S. Navy “conducted comprehensive tests of the LCS, which were intended “to demonstrate the performance of the propulsion plant, ship handling and auxiliary systems.”

In detail, the ship “successfully completed a full-power run along with all associated steering and maneuvering events (quick reversals and quick ahead) to demonstrate the ship’s maneuverability,” the statement reports. “The ship also conducted the anchor demonstration and successful surface and air self-defense detect-to-engage exercises.”

The LCS class consists of two separate variants, the trimaran-hull Independence-class and the single-hull Freedom-class.  The former features a larger flight deck that can accommodate two rather than one H-60 helicopter. Furthermore, Independence-class LCS have a wider operational range.

The ship’s armament will consist of a 11-cell Raytheon RIM-116B SeaRAM missile-defense system, one 57 millimeter naval gun, and depending, AGM-114 L Hellfire missiles and Mark 5o torpedoes. Additional weapon systems will depend LCS’ module which provides different mission-specific capabilities including anti-submarine, surface warfare and mine-clearing.

As I reported elsewhere, beginning in 2018 Freedom-class LCSs will be fitted with the Surface to Surface Missile Module (SSMM),  a 24-shot vertical launch system designed to engage smaller vessels in close proximity to the LCS (e.g., swarms of speedboats) with Hellfire missiles. As I explained in March:

The surface warfare mission package is slated to achieve initial operating capability (IOC) in 2018. Delays in the development of the SSMM led to the initial deployment of a more limited surface warfare mission package aboard the LCS exchanging hellfire missiles for rigid hull inflatable boats and boarding teams. The package also encompasses two 30 millimeter machine guns, two MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicles and an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter.

The Freedom-class has been particularly accident prone and various vessels of the class were put out of action due to technical problems or human error last year.

Following delivery and commissioning in Buffalo, New York, the USS Little Rock will sail to Florida to be homeported in Mayport with sister ships USS Milwaukee and USS Detroit. The U.S. Navy plans to induct 28 LCS and 12 more heavily armored and armed LCS classified as frigates in total.