Freedom-class littoral combat ship
Freedom shows off her new camouflage scheme on sea trials in February 2013 before her first deployment
|Operators:||United States Navy|
|Type:||Littoral combat ship|
|Displacement:||3,000 t (3,000 t) (full load)|
|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)|
|Range:||3,500 nmi (6,500 km; 4,000 mi) at 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)|
|Endurance:||21 days (336 hours)|
|Boats & landing
|11 m (36 ft) RHIB, 40 ft (12 m) high-speed boats|
|Complement:||50 core crew, 65 with mission crew (Blue and Gold crews)|
|Terma A/S SKWS decoy system|
AGM-114L Hellfire missiles
2 × MH-60R/S Seahawk
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[update], 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
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.
The keel of the lead ship USS Freedom was laid down in June 2005, by Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wisconsin. She was christened in September 2006, delivered to the Navy in September 2008, and commissioned that November. During INSURV trials, 2,600 discrepancies were discovered, including 21 considered high-priority. 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.
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. This ship was later re-ordered.
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. Problems with the electrical systems are the most serious problems with the Freedom class.
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.
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". During testing of the class lead, two ship's companies will rotate on four-month assignments.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that fuel will account for only "8 percent to 18 percent" of the total life-cycle costs for Freedom. 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.
Survivability has been a criticism of both Littoral Combat Ship classes, rated at level one by the Navy, compared to level two for the FFG-7 Perry-class frigate they are designed to replace. Lockheed claims the Freedom-class is actually more survivable than FFGs because Navy requirements of various survivability levels have changed since the FFGs were assessed, and that the Freedoms' hull is made of high-strength, low-weight steel that was not previously around.
The USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) was the first Freedom-class LCS to be fitted with cavitation performance waterjets. The jets create partial vacuums in liquid using an improved impeller blade design. Cavitation jets do not increase the ship's top speed, but deliver 10 percent greater fuel efficiency with less noise and vibration, reduced life-cycle costs, improved maintainability, increased availability, and potentially improved efficiency at lower speeds. The Navy plans to add the new waterjets to every Freedom variant that is produced, including LCS 5, 7, 9, 11, and 13. The mixed flow design was changed to an axial design to push water parallel to the shaft of the impeller.
The first ships of both LCS classes were delivered before the designs were mature so that improvements could be built into future ships. Many improvements to the Freedom-class came from the problems experienced by the USS Freedom (LCS-1) on its first deployment including power outages, corroded equipment, a faulty air compressor. To prevent water being taken into the anchor windlass room, the anchor winch, hydraulic unit, and mooring capstan were replaced with a single electric chain winch on the main deck, and the existing towing chain was replaced with a lighter chain. Corrosion resistance was also improved by the Impressed Current Cathodic Protection system being modified by adding protections to the water jet inlet tunnel. Starting with LCS-3, the stern transom was lengthened and buoyancy tanks were added to the stern to increase weight service and enhance stability. A significantly less complex gas turbine electric start system will be added on LCS-5 to reduce costs and lower ship weight.
Lockheed has submitted a variety of upgrade options for Freedom-class ships to the Small Surface Combatant Task Force, aimed at transforming the Littoral Combat Ship from "niche" platforms into ships with more protection and firepower beyond Flight 0 to survive against more advanced military adversaries. With 180 metric tons of space available for mission packages, there is room for added capabilities. Anti-aircraft warfare can be provided with the installation of a SPY-1F air defense radar and permanently installed vertical launch systems (VLS). Current 118-meter length versions can house 4 to 32 VLS cells, each holding four RIM-162D Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles, and can also hold SM-2 missiles. For surface warfare, the Mk 110 cannon can be replaced with a larger gun up to the Mk 45 5-inch cannon; integration of the AGM-114L Hellfire missile for defense against fast attack craft (FAC) was also factored in.
Two Freedom-class LCS ships have been commissioned. Four more Freedom-class LCS are under construction by Lockheed Martin.
- USS Freedom (LCS-1)
- USS Fort Worth (LCS-3)
- USS Milwaukee (LCS-5)
- USS Detroit (LCS-7)
- USS Little Rock (LCS-9)
- USS Sioux City (LCS-11)
- USS Wichita (LCS-13)
- USS Billings (LCS-15)
- USS Indianapolis (LCS-17)
An additional five Freedom-class ships are planned.
Surface Combat Ship
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.
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. 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.
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