Freedom-class littoral combat ship

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Freedom shows off her new camouflage scheme on sea trials in February 2013 before her first deployment
Class overview
Builders: Lockheed Martin
Operators: United States Navy
Preceded by: None
Cost: $670.4 million[1]
Built: 2005–
In commission: 2008–
Building: 2
Planned: 12
Completed: 2
Active: 2
General characteristics
Type: Littoral combat ship
Displacement: 3,000 t (3,000 t) (full load)[2]
Length: 378 ft (115 m)
Beam: 57.4 ft (17.5 m)
Draft: 12.8 ft (3.9 m)
Installed power: Electrical: 4 Isotta Fraschini V1708 diesel engines, Hitzinger generator units, 800 kW each
Propulsion: 2 Rolls-Royce MT30 36 MW gas turbines, 2 Colt-Pielstick diesel engines, 4 Rolls-Royce waterjets
Speed: 47 knots (87 km/h; 54 mph) (sea state 3)[3]
Range: 3,500 nmi (6,500 km; 4,000 mi) at 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)[4]
Endurance: 21 days (336 hours)
Boats & landing
craft carried:
11 m (36 ft) RHIB, 40 ft (12 m) high-speed boats
Complement: 50 core crew, 65 with mission crew (Blue and Gold crews)[5]
Sensors and
processing systems:
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
Aircraft carried:
Freedom in Feb 2013 showing her large helideck & the RAM launcher on the hangar.
An MH-60 Seahawk helicopter approaching USS Freedom in 2009

The Freedom class is one of two classes of littoral combat ship built for the United States Navy.[11]

The Freedom class was proposed by Lockheed Martin as a contender for USN plans to build a fleet of small, multipurpose warships to operate in the littoral zone. Two ships were approved, to compete with the Independence-class design offered by General Dynamics and Austal for a construction contract of up to 55 vessels.

As of 2013, two ships are active and a third is under construction. Despite initial plans to only accept one of the Freedom and Independence variants, the USN has requested that Congress order ten ships of each variant.

Planning and construction[edit]

Planning for a class of small, multipurpose warships to operate in the littoral zone began in the early 2000s. The construction contract was awarded to Lockheed Martin's LCS team (Lockheed Martin, Gibbs & Cox, Marinette Marine, Bollinger Shipyards) in May 2004 for two vessels. These would then be compared to two ships built by Austal USA to determine which design would be taken up by the Navy for a production run of up to 55 ships.

On 15 April 2003, the Lockheed Martin LCS team unveiled their Sea Blade concept based on the hull form of the motor yacht Destriero.[12][13]

The keel of the lead ship USS Freedom was laid down in June 2005, by Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wisconsin.[14] She was christened in September 2006,[15][16] delivered to the Navy in September 2008, and commissioned that November.[17] During INSURV trials, 2,600 discrepancies were discovered, including 21 considered high-priority.[18] Not all of these were rectified before the ship entered service, as moving the ship away from Milwaukee before the winter freeze was considered a higher priority.[19]

Cost overruns during Freedom's construction combined with projected future overruns led the government to issue a "Stop-work" in January 2007 and ultimately led to the cancellation of construction of LCS-3 (the second Lockheed Martin ship) on April 13, 2007.[20] This ship was later re-ordered.

After much inconsistency on how testing and orders were to proceed, in November 2010, the USN asked that Congress approve ten of both the Freedom and Independence variants.[21][22][23]


The ship is a semi-planing steel monohull with an aluminum superstructure. It is 377 feet (115 m) in length, displaces 2,950 metric tons, and can go faster than 45 knots (83 km/h; 52 mph). The design incorporates a large reconfigurable seaframe to allow rapidly interchangeable mission modules, a flight deck with integrated helicopter launch, recovery and handling system and the capability to launch and recover boats (manned and unmanned) from both the stern and side.

The flight deck is 1.5 times the size of that of a standard surface ship, and uses a Trigon traversing system to move helicopters in and out of the hangar. The ship has two ways to launch and recover various mission packages: a stern ramp and a starboard side door near the waterline. The mission module bay has a 3-axis crane for positioning modules or cargo.[24] Problems with the electrical systems are the most serious problems with the Freedom class.[25]

The fore deck has a modular weapons zone which can be used for a 57 mm gun turret or missile launcher. A Rolling Airframe Missile launcher is mounted above the hangar for short-range defense against aircraft and cruise missiles, and .50-caliber gun mounts are provided topside. The Fleet-class unmanned surface vessel is designed for operations from Freedom variant ships.[26]

The core crew will be 40 sailors, usually joined by a mission package crew and an aviation detachment for a total crew of about 75. Automation allows a reduced crew, which greatly reduces operating costs, but workload can still be "gruelling".[27] During testing of the class lead, two ship's companies will rotate on four-month assignments.[28]

Four 750-kilowatt Fincantieri Isotta-Fraschini diesel generators provide 3 megawatts of electrical power to power the ship systems.[29]

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that fuel will account for only "8 percent to 18 percent" of the total life-cycle costs for Freedom.[30] Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama has called the report into question and has suggested that the Independence, built in his state, would be more fuel efficient and that less frequent refuelings would have an impact on military operations beyond the cost of fuel.[31]

In 2012, a Navy cybersecurity team found major deficiencies in Lockheed's Total Ship Computing Environment, which controls the entire ship in order to reduce crewing requirements.[32][33]


Two Freedom-class LCS ships have been commissioned. Four more Freedom-class LCS are under construction by Lockheed Martin.

An additional five Freedom-class ships are planned.

Surface Combat Ship[edit]

Lockheed Martin has offered an Aegis Combat System-equipped variant for national missile defense radar picket use to a number of Persian Gulf states.[34][35]

The Surface Combat Ship will be offered to Saudi Arabia as part of the 2011 arms deal.[36][37] The total cost for the eight ships is reported to be as much as $5 billion.[38]

In 2012, Lockheed renamed the SCS to match GD's Multi-Mission Combatant term and revealed that the full capabilities, such as Aegis, would only be available on a stretched 3,500 ton hull.[39]

Lockheed has also been working on a trimmed down version of the Freedom combat system to offer on the international market for smaller patrol vessels.[40] This Multi-Mission Combat Ship adds in phased-array radar and a vertical launch system on a smaller hull with a smaller crew size, at the cost of removing the high speed gas turbines and one third of the mission module area.[41]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Littoral Combat Ship datasheet
  3. ^ Refueling tops list of LCS crew challenges
  4. ^ "LCS Littoral Combat Ship". Retrieved 2008-09-20. [dead link]
  5. ^ CAVAS, CHRISTOPHER P. (6 January 2014). "Next LCS Deployment To Last 16 Months". Gannett Government Media Corporation. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c "Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) High-Speed Surface Ship". Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  7. ^ AN/SQR-20
  8. ^ Littoral Combat Ship at the Joint Meeting INTERNATIONAL HYDROFOIL SOCIETY SNAME Panel SD-5
  9. ^ AGM-176 Griffin
  10. ^ Surface Warfare Mission Package Capabilities
  11. ^ "US Navy Fact File: LITTORAL COMBAT SHIP CLASS - LCS". Retrieved 8 June 2012. 
  12. ^ Ross, Ken. "Lockheed Martin LCS Team Introduces Sea Blade Concept for Navy's LCS Program." Lockheed Martin, 15 April 2003.
  13. ^ "LCS Brochure"
  14. ^ Onley, Dawn. "Lockheed Martin to build advanced Navy ship". Government Computer News. Retrieved September 23, 2006. 
  15. ^ "First Littoral Combat Ship Christened". Navy News. Retrieved September 28, 2006. 
  16. ^ "Lockheed Martin Team Delivers Nation's First Littoral Combat Ship to U.S. Navy". Retrieved 2008-09-20. [dead link]
  17. ^
  18. ^ Ewing, Philip, "Navy: InSurv recommends accepting LCS 2", Military Times, December 9, 2009.
  19. ^ GAO-09-326SP Assessments of Major Weapon Programs, page 106
  20. ^ Cost Growth Leads To Stop-Work On Team Lockheed LCS-3 Construction
  21. ^ Sessions, Jeff "Sessions comments today regarding the Navy's proposal to purchase additional Littoral Combat Ship" Office of Jeff Sessions, 3 November 2010
  22. ^ "US Navy said to buy LCS warships from both bidders" Reuters 3 November 2010
  23. ^ Cavas, Christopher P. "Navy asks Congress to buy both LCS designs" NavyTimes, 4 November 2010
  24. ^ "Nation’s First Littoral Combat Ship Demonstrates Key Mission Package Launch And Recovery System". Lockheed Martin. 2007-10-11. 
  25. ^ "Littoral Combat Ship Cut Plan Reopens Navy Riff: Build ‘Em Fast Or Rugged."
  26. ^ Sobie, Brendan (August 24, 2010). "AUVSI: Making a splash". Flightglobal. Reed Business Information. Retrieved 2012-04-20. 
  27. ^ "Duty Aboard the Littoral Combat Ship: ‘Grueling but Manageable’". Retrieved 2010-08-17. 
  28. ^ Jones, Meg (5 November 2008). "Navy's Vessel Of Versatility". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 
  29. ^ USS Freedom demonstrates its power plant can handle vessel’s sensors and electronics
  30. ^ Life-Cycle Costs of Selected Navy Ships
  31. ^ CBO Report Calls into Question Navy’s LCS Evaluation
  32. ^ Capaccio, Tony (23 April 2013). "Littoral Combat Ship Network Can Be Hacked, Navy Finds". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  33. ^ Lawlor, Maryann (December 2005). "Littoral Combat Ship Launches Change". SIGNAL Online. AFCEA International. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  34. ^ Lockheed Martin pitches light warship concept for Gulf radar picket
  35. ^ LCS International brochure
  36. ^ Wolf, Jim. "Saudis ask U.S. for price quotes for warships." Reuters, 8 April 2011.
  37. ^ "Surface Combat Ship Designed as a Multi-mission Ship."
  38. ^ "Lockheed proposes $5bn Aegis ships sale to Saudi Arabia." Bloomberg News, 26 May 2011.
  39. ^ "Lockheed Martin offers LCS-derived Multi-Mission Combatant."
  40. ^ "BAE and Thales plot course for smaller warships to fight pirates."
  41. ^ "China Shipbuilder Calls for Greater Cooperation with U.S. Firms."

External links[edit]