August 13, 2008 The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is an entirely new class of warship designed to enable the U.S. Navy to operate in shallow waters for the many close-to-shore challenges it forsees in the coming years. The LCS is very fast, highly manoeuvrable, fully networked and quickly reconfigurable via 24 hour-installable mission modules to enable it to defeat threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast attack surface craft. There are two variants of the LCS, one a high-speed semi-planing monohull, the other a trimaran, and the first to begin trails is the monohull version from the Lockheed Martin team. Freedom (LCS 1) is currently undergoing “builder trials” on Lake Michigan, testing the ship's propulsion, communications, navigation and mission systems.
The two variants are quite different, though both achieve the Navy’s requirements of being able to operate at full load with a draft of just 10 feet, a range of 1500 nautical miles at a sprint speed of 40+ knots, and a range of 4300 nautical miles at a speed of 20 knots.
One of the most interesting aspects of the LCS design is its ability to change the specific mission modules (Mine Warfare, Anti-Submarine Warfare and Anti-Surface Warfare) and have them fully tested and working WITHIN 24 HOURS.
After the completion of builder trials, the Freedom crew will begin preparing for acceptance trials.