Freedom-class littoral combat ship

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For the RCI cruise ship class, see Freedom-class cruise ship.
Freedom class
USS-Freedom-130222-N-DR144-174-crop.jpg
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: 4
Planned: 5
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:

EADS North America TRS-3D air and surface search radar[6]

  • Lockheed Martin COMBATSS-21 combat management system[6]
  • AN/SQR-20 Multi-Function Towed Array (As part of ASW mission module)[7][8]
Electronic warfare
& decoys:

Argon ST WBR-2000 ESM system

Terma A/S SKWS decoy system[6]
Armament:

AGM-114L Hellfire missiles[9]
1 × BAE Systems Mk 110 57 mm gun, 400 rounds in turret and two ready service magazines with 240 rounds each.[10]
4 × .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns
2 × 30 mm Mk44 Bushmaster II guns
One Mk 49 launcher with 21 × RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile Surface-to-Air Missiles

Other weapons as part of mission modules
Aircraft carried:

2 × MH-60R/S Seahawk

MQ-8 Fire Scout
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]

Design[edit]

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]

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.[34]

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.[35] The mixed flow design was changed to an axial design to push water parallel to the shaft of the impeller.[36]

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.[36]

SSC variant[edit]

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 or one SM-2 missile. 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.[37] Lockheed's approach is to integrate mission systems into the hull so that the ships can perform anti-submarine, anti-surface, and anti-aircraft duties without needing to swap out mission packages. Weight would be increased from 3,400 tons to 3,600 tons and the hull can be stretched an additional 7–10 m (23–33 ft). In addition to adding vertical launch tubes and a sonar, the main gun would be integrated with the stronger and more sophisticated radar.[38]

Ships[edit]

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.

Ship Hull Number Laid down Launched Commissioned Fate
Freedom LCS-1 2 June 2005 23 September 2006 8 November 2008 Active in service
Fort Worth LCS-3 11 July 2009 7 December 2010 22 September 2012 Active in service
Milwaukee LCS-5 27 October 2011 18 December 2013 Fitting out
Detroit LCS-7 11 August 2012 18 October 2014 Under construction
Little Rock LCS-9 27 June 2013 Under construction
Sioux City LCS-11 18 February 2014 Under construction
Witchta LCS-13 On order
Billings LCS-15 On order
Indianapolis LCS-17 On order
LCS-19 Planned
LCS-21 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.[39][40]

The Surface Combat Ship will be offered to Saudi Arabia as part of the 2011 arms deal.[41][42] The total cost for the eight ships is reported to be as much as $5 billion.[43]

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.[44]

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.[45] 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.[46]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/awx_05_09_2012_p0-456237.xml
  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". defensenews.com. Gannett Government Media Corporation. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c "Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) High-Speed Surface Ship". www.naval-technology.com. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  7. ^ AN/SQR-20
  8. ^ Littoral Combat Ship at the Joint Meeting INTERNATIONAL HYDROFOIL SOCIETY SNAME Panel SD-5
  9. ^ Navy Axes Griffin Missile In Favor of Longbow Hellfire for LCS - News.USNI.org, 9 April 2014
  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. ^ http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=40822
  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 Says It Can ‘Easily’ Improve LCS - Breakingdefense.com, 10 June 2014
  35. ^ LCS5 Gets New Waterjets - Defensetech.org, 15 May 2014
  36. ^ a b Navy Engineers LCS Changes - DoDBuzz.com, 27 June 2014
  37. ^ Lockheed Outlines Post Littoral Combat Ship Pitch - News.USNI.org, 10 June 2014
  38. ^ Lockheed Offers Navy New LCS Variant - Defensetech.org, 3 September 2014
  39. ^ Lockheed Martin pitches light warship concept for Gulf radar picket
  40. ^ LCS International brochure
  41. ^ Wolf, Jim. "Saudis ask U.S. for price quotes for warships." Reuters, 8 April 2011.
  42. ^ "Surface Combat Ship Designed as a Multi-mission Ship."
  43. ^ "Lockheed proposes $5bn Aegis ships sale to Saudi Arabia." Bloomberg News, 26 May 2011.
  44. ^ "Lockheed Martin offers LCS-derived Multi-Mission Combatant."
  45. ^ "BAE and Thales plot course for smaller warships to fight pirates."
  46. ^ "China Shipbuilder Calls for Greater Cooperation with U.S. Firms."

External links[edit]