The US Navy's eighth Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) has completed its acceptance trials on Lake Michigan in the run up to commissioning next year. The future USS Billings, known at present as just LCS 15, was designed and built by Lockheed Martin and integrates new technology for littoral and deep water missions.
The completion of sea trials comes on the heels of the previous craft, USS Sioux City (LCS 11), being commissioned on November 17 in Annapolis, Maryland. Lockheed says the trials included full-power runs and maneuverability testing, as well as surface and air detect-to-engage demonstrations of the ship's combat system. In addition, there were demonstrations of the ship's ability to handle aviation support, launch and recover small boats, and its machinery control and automated systems.
Designed to be maneuverable and adaptable, the Freedom-class LCS handles missions that include mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare, and surface combat operations. The 118 m (387 ft) vessel displaces 3,400 tonnes and has an advanced semi-planing steel monohull. Its Combined Diesel And Gas (CODAG) turbine with steerable water jet propulsion gives it a top speed of over 45 knots (52 mph, 83 km/h).
On deck, the Freedom-class has hangar space for two H-60 helicopters and up to three MQ-8B or MQ-8C Firescout drones. Below deck, there are accommodations for up to 98 sailors. The bridge is equipped with fully digital nautical charts that are linked to the ship's sensors. Defenses include 3D air radar, Rolling Airframe missiles, and a Mk 110 deck gun.
Lockheed says that seven more Freedom-class LCSs are under various stages of construction at Fincantieri Marinette Marine, with LCS 17 (the future USS Indianapolis) scheduled for sea trials next year. LCS 19 (the future USS St. Louis) will be christened and launched on December 15 and LCS 13 (the future USS Wichita) is scheduled for commissioning on January 12 in Jacksonville, Florida.
The video below shows off the Freedom-class LCS's features.
Source: Lockheed Martin
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