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US Navy Commissions Littoral Combat Ship

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US Navy Commissions Littoral Combat Ship

The U.S. Navy’s latest littoral combat ship was commissioned on February 3.

US Navy Commissions Littoral Combat Ship
Credit: US Navy

The U.S. Navy has commissioned the Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) USS Omaha into service at the Broadside pier in San Diego on February 3, the service announced in a statement.

It is the 11th LCS and the sixth Independence-class variant to enter service with the U.S. Navy’s surface fleet. The ship will be homeported in San Diego. The U.S. Navy operates two LCS variants, the Independence and Freedom class.

Independence-class ships feature a unique trimaran hull, a larger flight deck than the Freedom class — they can carry two rather than one helicopter — and also have a larger fuel capacity and as a consequence a wider operational range.

The USS Omaha’s armament consists of a 11-cell Raytheon RIM-116B SeaRAM missile-defense system, a 57 millimeter naval gun, and AGM-114 L Hellfire missiles and Mark 5o torpedoes. It will also carry the Advanced Harpoon Weapon Control System (AHWCS) capable of firing RGM-84D Harpoon Block 1C missiles.

Furthermore, depending on the ship’s interchangeable mission package providing specific capabilities for surface warfare (SUW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and mine countermeasures (MCM) missions in the littoral region, the ship can be fitted with additional weapons systems.

“An interchangeable mission package is embarked on each LCS and provides the primary mission systems in one of these warfare areas,” the U.S. Navy said in statement. “Using an open architecture design, modular weapons, sensor systems and a variety of manned and unmanned vehicles to gain, sustain and exploit littoral maritime supremacy, LCS provides U.S. joint force access to critical areas in multiple theaters.”

However, there have been doubts whether both LCS variants can fulfill their mission requirements especially when it comes to conducting possible future combat operations. As a result, beginning in 2020, the U.S. Navy wants to shift from LCS to procuring new guided-missile frigate called the FFG(X). 15 LCS are currently under construction with three others in pre-production states.

The LCS fleet also had to deal with a host of technical and crew issues. Human error caused a number of engineering casualties aboard LCS of both variants. Consequently, the then commander of all U.S. Navy surface forces, Vice Admiral Tom Rowden, ordered a stand down for all LCS in order to retrain the ships’ crews.

Another LCS is expected to be commissioned into service by the end of the year. The Freedom-class LCS USS Little Rock was commissioned on December 16, 2017 at the Canalside waterfront in Buffalo, New York.