MARINETTE, Wis., Nov. 3 (UPI) -- The keel has been laid at a Wisconsin shipyard for the U.S. Navy's 15th Littoral Combat Ship, the future USS Billings.
The ship is a Freedom variant LCS by the Lockheed Martin-led team. Three have so far been delivered to the Navy and seven others are in various stages of construction.
"The LCS platform is proving the Navy's concept of operations with its flexibility in supporting a broad range of missions, from anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare to mine counter-measures," said Joe North, vice president of Littoral Ships and Systems at Lockheed Martin. "This industry has shown it can adapt to meet the Navy's most challenging missions, anywhere in the world."
Littoral Combat Ships are slightly smaller than a guided missile frigate and feature a flight deck, a stern ramp for small boat operations and modular weapon packages for various missions.
The laying of the keel of the future USS Billings' marks the beginning of its modular construction process at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine yard in Marinette, Wis.
The Lockheed Martin-led LCS team includes Fincantieri Marinette Marine, naval architect Gibbs & Cox, and nearly 900 suppliers in 43 states.