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The U.S. Navy's first four coastal combat ships (Littoral Combat Ships (LCS)) are scheduled to go out of service next March. The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Michael M. Gilday, announced this as expected. The Navy decided to invest the money elsewhere in the upcoming modernization of the four battleships - "USS Freedom", "USS Independence", "USS Fort Worth" and "USS Coronado". According to the Navy, the cost of overhauling the units and adapting them to the standards of their sister ships is disproportionate to the benefits. As the first units of their kind, the four were used as platforms to test and validate concepts for coastal warfare. They also served to train the multiple crews in dealing with the different mission modules.

The Coastal Battleship (LCS) project was criticized from the start for various reasons. This was not only due to exorbitant cost increases from the original $ 220 million to more than $ 600 million in 2008 - no ship had yet been put into service. The management of the different mission modules including the training of personnel (in the multi-crew model) also suffered and was revised. FFG (X) will be followed by the new building of traditional frigates on the originally 55-unit program (ES & T reported). With its American subsidiary Fincantieri Marinette Marine, Fincantieri was able to assert itself in the tender against US competitors.

 

Littoral Combat Ship - 35 ships, two variants and modules

Two of the four affected LCS belong to the nineteen units of the Independence class, the "USS Freedom" is the type ship of the other sixteen unit class of coastal battleships named after it. It has been in service since November 2008. The "USS Independence" has been in use since January 2010. When the ships are retired on March 31, 2021, they will travel to the U.S. Navy for between seven and thirteen years.

The Independence variant, of which 19 units have so far been ordered, goes back to Austal USA, Mobile, Alabama in cooperation with General Dynamics. The aluminum trimarans are 127 meters long, 30 meters wide, displace 3,100 tons and can reach up to 45 knots for a short time with their two gas turbines, two diesel engines and four waterjet drives.

The Freedom variant, previously ordered 16, is being built by Lockheed Martin, Marinette, Wisconsin, together with the Fincantieri subsidiary Marinette Marine based there. These 115 meter long, 17.5 meter wide monohulls are said to be able to reach 47 knots with a displacement of 3,500 tons. A Hensoldt TRS-3D multifunction radar is used on it.

Depending on the intended use, the ships can be equipped with suitable modules for submarine hunting, naval target fighting and mine defense. The basic armament includes a 57 mm turret, RAM (surface-to-air missile system) and a smaller artillery weapon. In addition, other mission modules can be installed, such as Harpoon, U-Jagd and MCM modules. The hangar can accommodate two Seahawk helicopters or three Fire Scout drones.

On June 20, 2020, the US Navy put the "USS Kansas City" (LCS-22) into service (Independence variant).

In December 2019, it was announced that Lockheed Martin had received an order for the construction of four multi-mission ships (MMSC - Multi-Mission Surface Combatant) for Saudi Arabia ($ 1.96 billion).ES & T reported). They are derived from the design of the Freedom-class coastal battleships. Saudi Arabia had previously been interested in acquiring LCS.

Hans Uwe Mergener