The U.S. Navy’s latest Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the future USS Sioux City, successfully completed acceptance trials in the waters of Lake Michigan in late May the service said in a statement.
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 U.S. Navy’s chief body inspecting and reporting on a vessel’s readiness for active duty operations.
“The acceptance trial is the last significant milestone before delivery of the ship to the Navy,” the Naval Sea Systems Command said in a June 8 press release. “During the trial, the Navy conducted comprehensive tests of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) intended to demonstrate the performance of the propulsion plant, ship handling and auxiliary systems.”
According to Lockheed Martin, “the trials, conducted May 20-24, included surface and air detect-to-engage demonstrations of the ship’s combat system. Major systems and features were demonstrated, including aviation support, small boat launch handling and recovery and ride control.”
The U.S. Navy’s fleet of Littoral Combat Ships is divided into two separate classes, the Independence and Freedom variants. Construction of the Freedom variant is spearheaded by Lockheed Martin at Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard in Wisconsin, while the building of Independence-class ships is led by Austal USA in Alabama.
The future Sioux City is the sixth Freedom-class LCS designed and built by the Lockheed Martin-led industry team. It is slated for delivery to the U.S. Navy later this summer and will be commissioned before the end of the year. As I explained previously:
Using an open architecture design, both LCS classes — the mono-hull Freedom and trimaran-hull Independence variants — are modular, reconfigurable warships that can be fitted with interchangeable mission packages providing specific capabilities for surface warfare (SUW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), and mine countermeasures (MCM) missions in the littoral region.
Standard armament of a Freedom-class LCS includes a 11-cell Raytheon RIM-116B SeaRAM missile-defense system, a 57-millimeter naval gun, and Mark 5o torpedoes. Depending on the mission package other weapons systems can be added.
The Freedom-class USS Milwaukee last month tested the so-called Surface-to-Surface Missile Module, a 24-shot vertical launch system designed to engage smaller surface targets in close proximity to the LCS with AGM-114L Longbow Hellfire missiles. LCS of both variants are expected to be retrofitted with this new weapon system in the near future.
Twenty-nine LCS construction contracts have been awarded as of May 2018 by the U.S. Navy, with 13 LCS delivered to the service so far, another 13 in various stages of construction and testing, and three LCS in pre-production states. The next Freedom-class LCS, the future USS Wichita, is expected to complete acceptance trials this summer.
Following delivery and commissioning in Annapolis, Maryland later this year, the USS Sioux City will sail to Florida to be homeported in Mayport with sister ships USS Milwaukee, USS Detroit and USS Little Rock.