The United States Navy has introduced a new high tech fighting machine. It is fast, versatile, and deadly. The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), Independence class, was developed to combat a new type of naval warfare taking place in coastal waters. The establishment of this coastal combat ship has created a new class of surface warfare ships known as DD(X) (O’Rourke, 2013). The modern design of the Independence class LCS is made out of aluminum, making the vessel light weight with a low draft displacement of about 10 feet, allowing it to be operationally effective in shallow waters. The LCS is able to quickly maneuver in shallow and narrow waters to face off against the growing threats of drug smuggling, piracy, and small boat navies near coastal waters (Kiel, 2013).
The Navy’s LCS Program was approved by congress in 2006 (O’Rourke, 2013). The LCS is currently being constructed in two different design classes, the Freedom and the Independence. This paper will focus on the Independence class. The Independence is particularly unique because it has an aluminum trimaran hull and is propelled by jet drives. This design favors speed and maneuverability over strength. (Kiel, 2013). The structure also allows a large amount of utility space for a variety of different available mission packages. The ability to have new combat systems without changing the architecture of the ship is a first in the United States Navy.
Currently the USS Independence is the only Independence class LCS undergoing sea trials, with the USS Coronado nearing completion. The Navy plans to build 52 LCSs before determining whether the Freedom class or Independence class is a better design. However, budget constraints threaten to limit the program (O’Rourke, 2013).
The two classes of the LCS are constructed by separate companies competing for the permanent contract to build LCSs for the Navy. Lockheed at the Marinette Marine Shipyard in Wisconsin designed the Freedom LCS. These ships are odd numbered: LCS-1, LCS-3, and LCS-5. The design of the Independence class is by General Dynamics, which is in Mobile, Alabama (O’Rourke, 2013). The Independence class is identified by even numbers.
LCS is not only valuable as a war machine but also an instrument for peacetime engagements. Anti-piracy operations within the maritime industry are in need of ships that can operate coastwise within homeland defense operations (O’Rourke, 2013). LCS’s advanced technology allows for partnership with Special Forces, intelligence and reconnaissance operations.
LCS program represents a change in modern naval combat. Naval warfare now has more favor for small multi mission capable vessels over massive destroyers. This program was designed to implement a fleet of vessels capable of a variety of missions at a moment’s notice as an alternative to the vastly more expensive destroyers, cruisers and mine counter measure ships. On May 27 2004 the navy commissioned two companies to outfit these littoral combat ships....