A team of contractors led by Lockheed Martin held a keel-laying ceremony at Marinette Marine’s shipyard today for Fort Worth, the third Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) produced for the U.S. Navy. The LCS is a fast, agile warship with a shallow draft enabling the vessel to operate closer to coastlines and providing the Navy with maximum mission flexibility. In March 2009, the Navy awarded the Lockheed Martin team a fixed price incentive fee contract to construct Fort Worth, which will be delivered in 2012. The USS Freedom, the team’s first LCS, was commissioned in Milwaukee in November 2008.
Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-12-Texas), the ship’s sponsor, said “It’s a great honor to serve as the sponsor of the Fort Worth. The keel laying ceremony today is also a great tribute to the tireless efforts by the city of Fort Worth and all those who believed this day would happen. The thousands of letters that were written and the drawings that were done embody the spirit of making this dream a reality. The keel is the backbone of the ship, and the city of Fort Worth has long been a ‘backbone’ of support for our American Military forces.”
The USS Freedom successfully conducted its second and final round of U.S. Navy acceptance trials in May, off the Virginia coast. The trial, a coordinated effort between the Navy and the Lockheed Martin team, included operational testing of propulsion, communications, navigation and mission systems, as well as all related support systems onboard the vessel.
Lockheed Martin’s LCS can reach speeds over 40 knots and is a highly automated and networked surface combatant with operational flexibility to execute focused missions such as mine warfare, anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare and is adaptable to a wide range of additional mission requirements, including maritime interdiction and humanitarian/disaster relief. The Freedom-class uses a secure, high-availability ship-wide network that can be controlled from a single workstation and rapidly reconfigured to fit mission requirements. This system, combined with an Aegis-based open architecture command and control system, went from design concept to delivery in just 18 months, and the Freedom class went from concept to delivery in just six years, half the time it normally takes for Navy ships.