The U.S. Navy took delivery of the latest Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ships the future USS Sioux City (LCS-11) and USS Wichita (LCS-13) during a ceremony on Wednesday at shipbuilder Fincantieri Marinette Marine’s shipyard in Wisconsin.
The Sioux City and Wichita are, respectively, the sixth and seventh Freedom-variant ships and 14th and 15th LCSs to be delivered to the Navy. Delivery is the last milestone before official commissioning for the ships, set to occur later this year. Sioux City will be commissioned n Annapolis, Md., while Wichita will be commissioned in Jacksonville, Fla.
The Sioux City will join the East Coast Surface Warfare Division while the Wichita will be the first East Coast Mine Warfare Division ship.
Capt. Shawn Johnston, commander of LCS Squadron Two, added that LCS-13 “will have a chance to test some of the latest and greatest mine warfare systems after she completes her remaining combat systems trials.”
A Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) spokesperson confirmed this means the Wichita is slated to get the Mine Countermeasure (MCM) Mission Package and that different Mission Modules, the components of the package, will be deployed on the ship starting in fiscal year ’19.
LCS-13 is still planned to undergo Combat Systems Ship Qualification Trials (CSSQT) and a post-shakedown availability as part of the construction process before the ship enters into service
The LCS program manager Capt. Mike Taylo, said in a statement that the Sioux City is “a remarkable ship that will bring tremendous capability to the Fleet” while the Wichita is an “exceptional ship which will conduct operations around the globe.”
Taylor said the Navy plans for LCS-13 to join her sister LCSs in service starting this next winter.
The MCM mission package consists of module systems being developed to support counter-mine operations using both helicopters and unmanned systems like the Textron [TXT] Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle (CUSV) towing a minesweeping unit and General Dynamics [GD] medium-sized Knifefish unmanned undersea vehicle (USV) (Defense Daily, July 5).
These systems will eventually replace legacy manned Avenger-class mine countermeasures ships.
Last month the Defense Department Inspector General said the Navy improperly declared initial operational capability for three LCS MCM mission packages: the Raytheon [RTN] AN/ASQ-235 Airborne Mine Neutralization System, the Northrop Grumman [NOC] Airborne Laser Mine Detection System, and the Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis Block I systems (Defense Daily, July 30).
Fincantieri Marinette Marine is currently finishing or building six other LCSs and is starting fabrication on a seventh, the future USS Nantucket (LCS-27), this fall.
The future USS Billings (LCS-15) is preparing for trials in spring 2019, the future USS Indianapolis (LCS-17) was christened and launched this past April, the future USS St. Paul (LCS-19) is planned to be launched and christened this fall, the future USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul (LCS-21) is scheduled to be launched and christened in spring 2019, the future USS Cooperstown (LCS023) had its keel laid earlier in August and is under construction in the shipyard’s erection bays, and the future USS Marinette (LCS-25) started fabrication in February.
Separately, the even-numbered Independence-variant LCSs are built by Austal USA in Mobile, Ala.