The Navy will christen littoral combat ship (LCS) Independence at 10:00 a.m. CDT on Saturday, Oct. 4, during a ceremony at Austal USA Shipyard, Mobile, Ala.
The name Independence recognizes the cornerstone of our nation’s foundation that so many Americans have sacrificed to ensure. Five previous ships have also had that name. The first Independence was a 10-gun sloop that served during the War of Independence. The second Independence, the first ship of the line in the Navy, was launched in 1814 as a 74-gun ship, but later refitted to a 54-gun frigate. The third Independence served with the Naval Overseas Transportation Service following the end of World War I. The fourth Independence (CVL 22), a small aircraft carrier commissioned in 1943, earned eight battle stars during World War II. The fifth Independence (CV 62) was an aircraft carrier commissioned in 1959 and decommissioned in 1998.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., will deliver the principal address at the ceremony. Doreen Scott, wife of the former Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Terry Scott, will serve as ship’s sponsor. The ceremony will be highlighted by Scott breaking a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally christen the ship, which is a time-honored Navy tradition.
Independence is one of two LCS seaframes being produced. LCS 1, Freedom, completed its acceptance trials and was delivered to the Navy on Sept. 18, 2008. Freedom is scheduled for commissioning on Nov. 8, 2008.
The LCS is an innovative combatant designed to operate quickly in shallow water environments to counter challenging threats in coastal regions, specifically mines, submarines and fast surface craft. It is capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots and can operate in water less than 20 feet deep. Independence will address a critical capabilities gap in the littorals. It will serve to enhance maritime security and it is capable of performing the core capabilities that define the Navy. It will deter hostility in troubled waters, maintain a forward presence, and it is capable of projecting power and maintaining sea control.
Under the current shipbuilding plan, the Navy is programmed to purchase 55 Littoral Combat Ships. These 55 ships will improve the Navy’s capacity to respond to more globally distributed threats and will help the Navy reach its ultimate fleet goal of at least 313 ships.
The advanced design of Independence will allow it to launch and recover manned and unmanned vehicles. It will support interchangeable mission packages, allowing the ship to be reconfigured for antisubmarine warfare, mine warfare, or surface warfare missions on an as-needed basis. The LCS will be able to swap out mission packages pierside in a matter of a day, adapting as the tactical situation demands. These ships will also feature advanced networking capability to share tactical information with other Navy aircraft, ships, submarines and joint units.
Independence will be manned by one of two rotational crews, blue and gold, similar to the rotational crews assigned to Trident submarines. The crews will be augmented by one of three mission package crews during focused mission assignments. The prospective commanding officer of the blue crew is Cmdr. Curt A. Renshaw, who was born in Louisville, Ky., and raised in nearby New Albany, Ind. The prospective commanding officer of the gold crew is Cmdr. Michael B. Riley, a native of Phoenix, Ariz.
In May 2004, the Department of Defense awarded both Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics separate contract options for final-system design with options for detail design and construction of up to two LCS ships. The future USS Independence (LCS 2) is the General Dynamics’ lead hull in that ship design.
In October 2005, the Department of Navy awarded General Dynamics - Bath Iron Works, a contract for detail design and construction of their first LCS. General Dynamics - Bath Iron Works teammates include Austal USA of Mobile, Ala. and General Dynamics – AIS of Pittsfield, Mass. A keel laying ceremony was held Jan. 19, 2006, at Austal USA Shipyard in Mobile, Ala., where the ships is being built.
More information on the LCS can be found at: http://peoships.crane.navy.mil/lcs/ .