The U.S. Navy took delivery of its newest Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the future USS Cincinnati, during a ceremony in Mobile, Alabama. The future USS Cincinnati, built by Austal USA, is the 18th LCS delivered to the Navy and the 10th of the Independence-class to join the fleet.
“This is a great day for the Navy and our country with the delivery of the future USS Cincinnati,” said Captain Mike Taylor, LCS program manager. “I look forward to celebrating the commissioning of this great ship alongside the crew later this year. This ship will play an essential role in in carrying out our nation’s maritime strategy.”
The LCS class consists of the Independence and Freedom variants. Construction of the Freedom variant is headed by Lockheed Martin at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM) shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin, whereas the building of Independence-class LCS is managed by Austal USA in Mobile.
Five more Independence-class LCSs are currently under construction at Austal USA including the future USS Kansas City, Oakland, Mobile, Savannah, and Canberra. Four more LCSs are awaiting the start of construction. The Austal and Lockheed shipyards are each capable of building two LCSs per year.
The Independence variant features a unique trimaran hull and a larger flight deck, allowing it to carry two rather than one SH-60 Seahawk helicopter (or one Ch-53 Sea Stallion helicopter), next to multiple unmanned aerial vehicles. Additionally, the Independence-class also has a larger fuel capacity and a wider operational range than the mono-hulled Freedom-class. As I noted previously:
[W]ith 40 percent of the hull reconfigurable, both LCS variants use an open architecture design, enabling the warships to be fitted with interchangeable so-called mission packages providing capabilities for surface warfare (SUW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), and mine countermeasures (MCM) missions in the littoral zone. The ASW warfare package is expected to become available to the fleet in 2019, while the MCM package will be available in 2020.
The primary weapons systems of both LCS variants is a 57-millimeter naval gun and a 11-cell Raytheon RIM-116B SeaRAM missile-defense system. Additionally, the ships will also be fitted with the Surface-to-Surface Missile Module, a 24-shot AGM-114L Longbow Hellfire missile vertical launch system. Notably, Lockheed Martin is leading an effort to boost the combat capabilities of the ships in a two-phased plan.
The Navy launched the future Freedom-class LCS USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul during a ceremony at the FMM shipyard in Marinette earlier this month. Another LCS, the Freedom-class USS Billings, delivered to the U.S. Navy in February of this year, sustained damage after hitting another vessel in Montreal, Canada on June 24.