New Warship.The U.S.S. Independence (LCS-2)
Ordered: 14 October 2005
Builder: Austal USA, Mobile, Alabama
Laid down: 19 January 2006
Launched: 29 April 2008
Christened: 4 October 2008
Homeport: Naval Base San Diego (planned)
Status: Under construction
Class and type: Independence-class littoral combat ship
Displacement: 2,176 tons light, 2,784 tons full, 608 tons deadweight
Length: 127.4 m (418 ft)
Beam: 31.6 m (104 ft)
Draft: 14 ft (4.27 m)
Propulsion: 2× gas turbines, 2× diesel, 4× waterjets, retractable Azimuth thruster, 4× diesel generators
Speed: 40+ knots, 47 knots (54 mph; 87 km/h) sprint
Range: 4,300 nm at 20+ knots
Capacity: 210 tonnes
Complement: 40 core crew (8 officers, 32 enlisted) plus up to 35 mission crew
* Sea Giraffe 3D Surface/Air RADAR
* Bridgemaster-E Navigational RADAR
* AN/KAX-2 EO/IR sensor for GFC
* EDO ES-3601 ESM
* 4× SRBOC rapid bloom chaff launchers
* BAE Systems Mk 110 57 mm gun
* 4× .50-cal guns (2 aft, 2 forward)
* Evolved SeaRAM 11 cell missile launcher
* 32 missile Vertical Launch System
* 8 Harpoon missiles
* 2 Close-in Weapons Systems
* 6 ASW Torpedoes
* Mission modules
* 2× MH-60R/S Seahawks
* MQ-8 Fire Scout
USS Independence (LCS-2), the class prototype for the Independence-class littoral combat ship, will be the sixth ship of the United States Navy to be named for the concept of independence. It is the design competitor produced by the General Dynamics consortium, in competition with the Lockheed Martin-designed USS Freedom, the prototype for the Freedom-class littoral combat ship.
It is intended as a small assault transport with a variety of capabilities depending on the mission module installed. The ship is a trimaran design capable of over 40 knots (74 km/h; 46 mph).
The design for Independence (LCS 2) is based on a proven high-speed trimaran (Benchijigua Express) hull built by Austal (Henderson, Australia). The 127-meter surface combatant design calls for a crew of 40 sailors, while the trimaran hull should enable the ship to reach sustainable speeds of nearly 50 knots (60 mph; 90 km/h) and range as far as 10,000 nautical miles (20,000 km).
With 11,000 cubic meters of payload volume the ship is designed with twice the objective payload and volume so that it can carry out one mission while a separate mission module is in reserve. The large flight deck, 1,030 m2 (11,100 sq ft), will support operation of two SH-60 helicopters, multiple UAVs, or one large CH-53 class helicopter (which is larger than a V-22 transport). The stable trimaran hull will allow flight operations up to sea state 5.
Fixed core capabilities will be carried for self-defense and command and control. However unlike traditional fighting ships with fixed armament such as guns and missiles, innovative and tailored mission modules will be configured for one mission package at a time. Modules may consist of manned aircraft, unmanned vehicles, off-board sensors, or mission-manning detachments – all in an expandable open systems architecture.
The large interior volume and payload is greater than larger destroyers and is sufficient to serve as a high-speed transport and maneuver platform. The mission bay is 11,800 square feet (1,100 m2), and takes up most of the deck below the hangar and flight deck.
In addition to cargo or container-sized mission modules, the bay can carry four lanes of multiple Strykers, armored Humvees, and their associated troops. An elevator allows air transport of packages the size of a twenty-foot long shipping container that can be moved into the mission bay while at sea. A side access ramp allows for vehicle roll-on/roll-off loading to a dock and allows the ship to even transport the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.
The habitability area is under the bridge with bunks for many personnel.
Independence also has an integrated LOS Mast, Sea Giraffe 3D Radar and SeaStar Safire FLIR. Side and forward surfaces are angled for reduced radar profile. In addition, H-60 series helicopters provide airlift, rescue, anti-submarine, radar picket and anti-ship capabilities with torpedoes and missiles.
The Raytheon Evolved SeaRAM missile defense system is installed on the hangar roof. The SeaRAM combines the sensors of the Phalanx 1B close-in weapon system with an 11-missile launcher for the Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM), creating an autonomous system.
To reduce the risk of fire on the all aluminum ship, many parts are protected from fire, and smoking is not permitted on board.
Northrop Grumman has demonstrated sensor fusion of on and off-board systems in the Integrated Combat Management System (ICMS) used on Independence.
The contract was awarded to General Dynamics in July 2003. The contract to build her was then awarded to Austal USA of Mobile, Alabama, on 14 October 2005 and her keel was laid down on 19 January 2006. Delivery to the United States Navy was scheduled for December 2008, but will most likely be pushed back to September 2009.
The originally planned second General Dynamics ship (LCS-4) was canceled on November 1, 2007. On May 1, 2009, a second vessel was reordered by the Navy, the Coronado (LCS-4), with delivery scheduled for May 2012.
The Navy currently plans a new bidding process with the FY2010 budget between Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics for the next three littoral combat ships, with the winner building two ships and the loser only one. USS Independence was christened October 5, 2008 by Doreen Scott, wife of 10th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Terry D. Scott.
Austal has proposed a much smaller and slower trimaran, called the Multi-Role Vessel or Multi-Role Corvette. Though it is only half the size of their LCS design, it would still be useful for border protection and counter piracy operations.
The development and construction of ‘Independence as of June 2009 was running at 100% over-budget. The total projected cost for the ship is $704 million. The Navy had originally projected the cost at $220 million. Independence began builder’s trials near Mobile, Alabama on July 2, 2009, three-days behind schedule because of maintenance issues.
In response to problems with the propulsion plant, the ship experienced a leak in the port gas turbine shaft seal, General Dynamics has resequenced the builders trials to test other systems until this is fixed.
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