The Navy’s first littoral combat ship (LCS) Freedom will be commissioned Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008, during a 10 a.m. CST ceremony at Veterans Park, Milwaukee, Wis.
Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Birgit Smith, the ship’s sponsor, is the widow of Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith, who was killed in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. The commissioning ceremony will be highlighted by a time-honored Navy tradition when Smith gives the first order to “man our ship and bring her to life!”
The name of the new ship acknowledges the enduring foundation of our nation and honors all American communities which bear the name Freedom to include towns in California, Indiana, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
As the initial LCS, the 378-foot Freedom will be the first to carry this class designation. Freedom (LCS 1) is one of two LCS seaframes being produced. Independence (LCS 2) was christened by the Navy on Oct. 4, 2008.
A fast, agile, and high-technology surface combatant, Freedom will be a platform for launch and recovery of manned and unmanned vehicles. Its modular design 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 days, 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.
Freedom 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. The LCS is capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots and can operate in water less than 20 feet deep.
Freedom 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 Blue Crew commanding officer is Cmdr. Donald Gabrielson, a native of Hibbing, Minn. The Gold Crew commanding officer is Cmdr. Michael Doran, a native of Harrisonville, Mo. Freedom will be homeported at Naval Station San Diego, Calif., as part of the Pacific Fleet.
In May 2004, the Department of Defense awarded both Lockheed Martin Corp., Maritime Systems & Sensors in Moorestown, N.J., and General Dynamics-Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, separate contract options for final system design, with options for detail design and construction of up to two flight 0 LCS ships.
In December 2004, the Navy awarded Lockheed Martin Corp. the contract for detail design and construction of the first LCS. Lockheed Martin’s teammates include Gibbs & Cox in Arlington, Va.; Marinette Marine Corp. in Marinette, Wis., where the ship was built; and Bollinger Shipyards in Lockport, La.