Monday, October 06, 2008

High speed Australian designed trimaran warship for US Navy

Diagram of USS Independence
The Australian designed USS Independence (LCS-2) was launched on Saturday. This is one of two competing prototype littoral combat ships for the US Navy. These are relatively small (127-meter), fast (90 km/h) ships with small crews (40) and flexible weapons mix. Perhaps the Australian Government should acquire some of these ships, as they can be made in Australia.
The Independence is more radical looking, than its rival, USS Freedom (LCS-1). Independence has a trimaran hull, looking like one of Austral's car ferries at the back with half a warship welded onto the front. In contrast Freedom is a conventional single hull warship. The Independence design provides advantages with more deck space for helicopters and more storage, but creates a large shape which will be easier to detect, than the Freedom. Austral is also one of the two Australian makers of high speed transport ships for the US military.
The project has been controversial. Some argue that more conventional, cheaper proven designs for the US Coast Guard would be better, such as the USCGC Bertholf. The practicality of the flexible weapons mix has also been questioned.

The Navy will christen littoral combat ship (LCS) Independence at 10:00 a.m. CDT on Saturday, Oct. 4, during a ceremony at Austal USA Shipyard, Mobile, Ala. ...

Independence is one of two LCS seaframes being produced. LCS 1, Freedom, completed its acceptance trials and was delivered to the Navy on Sept. 18, 2008. Freedom is scheduled for commissioning on Nov. 8, 2008.

The LCS 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. It is capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots and can operate in water less than 20 feet deep.

Independence will address a critical capabilities gap in the littorals. It will serve to enhance maritime security and it is capable of performing the core capabilities that define the Navy. It will deter hostility in troubled waters, maintain a forward presence, and it is capable of projecting power and
maintaining sea control.

Under the current shipbuilding plan, the Navy is programmed to purchase 55 Littoral Combat Ships. These 55 ships will improve the Navy’s capacity to respond to more globally distributed threats and will help the Navy reach its ultimate fleet
goal of at least 313 ships.

The advanced design of Independence will allow it to launch and recover manned and unmanned vehicles. It 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 a day, 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.

Independence 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. ...

In May 2004, the Department of Defense awarded both Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics separate contract options for final-system design with options for detail design and construction of up to two LCS ships. The future USS Independence (LCS 2) is the General Dynamics’ lead hull in that ship design.

In October 2005, the Department of Navy awarded General Dynamics - Bath Iron Works, a contract for detail design and construction of their first LCS. General Dynamics - Bath Iron Works teammates include Austal USA of Mobile, Ala. and General Dynamics – AIS of Pittsfield, Mass. A keel laying ceremony was held Jan. 19, 2006, at Austal USA Shipyard in Mobile, Ala., where the ships is being built.

More information on the LCS can be found at:

From: Navy Christens Littoral Combat Ship Independence, US DoD, 2008

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