This coming Saturday the U.S. Navy will be commissioning its first Littoral Combat Ship, USS Freedom (LCS-1), in a ceremony at Veterans Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Freedom is the first of ‘a new family of ships for the US Navy’.  The U.S. Department of Defense tells us in a press release:

A fast, agile, and high-technology surface combatant, Freedom will be a platform for launch and recovery of manned and unmanned vehicles. Its modular design will support interchangeable mission packages, allowing the ship to be reconfigured for antisubmarine warfare, mine warfare, or surface warfare missions on an as-needed basis. The LCS will be able to swap out mission packages pierside in a matter of days, adapting as the tactical situation demands. These ships will also feature advanced networking capability to share tactical information with other Navy aircraft, ships, submarines and joint units.

Freedom is an innovative combatant designed to operate quickly in shallow water environments to counter challenging threats in coastal regions, specifically mines, submarines and fast surface craft. The LCS is capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots and can operate in water less than 20 feet deep.

Freedom will be manned by one of two rotational crews, Blue and Gold, similar to the rotational crews assigned to Trident submarines. The crews will be augmented by one of three mission package crews during focused mission assignments. The Blue Crew commanding officer is Cmdr. Donald Gabrielson, a native of Hibbing, Minn. The Gold Crew commanding officer is Cmdr. Michael Doran, a native of Harrisonville, Mo.   Freedom will be homeported at Naval Station San Diego, Calif., as part of the Pacific Fleet.

Freedom, designed by Lockhead Martin, is one of two LCS ships being produced.  The other, USS Independence (LCS 2), was designed by by General Dynamics in competition with with the USS Freedom.  That ship is a trimaran design that is capable of over 40 knots.  Independence is said to be commissioned sometime in early 2009.

Now let’s take a look at some video…

Freedom (LCS 1) Sea Trials

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhfzyTiDA2Y[/youtube]

Freedom (LCS 1) High Speed Trials

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q98yrPKxmig[/youtube]

Additional Information:

Displacement: Appx. 3000 tons (full load)
Length: 378.3 ft (115.3 m)
Beam: 57.4 ft (17.5 m)
Draft: 12.1 ft (3.7 m)
Propulsion: 2 Rolls-Royce MT30 36 MW gas turbines, 2 Colt-Pielstick diesel engines, 4 Rolls-Royce waterjets
Speed: 45 knots (52 mph/83 km/h) (sea state 3)
Range: 3,500 nmi (6,500 km) at 18 knots (21 mph/33 km/h)[2]
Endurance: 21 days (336 hours)
Boats and landing
craft carried:
11 m RHIB, 40 ft (12 m) high-speed boats
Complement: 15 to 50 core crew, 75 mission crew (Blue and Gold crews)
Armament:
  • BAE Systems Mk 110 57 mm gun
  • RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missiles
  • Honeywell Mk 50 Torpedo
  • NETFIRES PAM missile in the ASuW module
  • 2 .50-cal guns
Aircraft carried:
  • 2 MH-60R/S Seahawks
  • MQ-8 Fire Scout
Notes: Electrical power is provided by 4 Isotta Fraschini V1708 diesel engines with Hitzinger generator units rated at 800 kW each.
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