May 18 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin has laid the keel for the 19th Littoral Combat Ship-class vessel, the USS St. Louis. The ceremony was held at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wisc.
Ship sponsor Barbara Broadhurst Taylor oversaw the ritual of welding of the ship's initials into the keel.
"It is a tremendous honor to serve as the sponsor of the future USS St. Louis," Taylor said. "The keel-laying ceremony is a great milestone, and I look forward to supporting the ship and its crew throughout the building process. I know the people of St. Louis and Missouri will proudly support her when she is commissioned and officially enters the Navy fleet."
The Freedom-variant LCS, of which is currently under full rate production by Lockheed Martin, with four vessels delivered to date.
"We are proud to build another proven warship that allows our Navy to carry out their missions around the world," said Joe North, vice president and general manager of Littoral Ships and Systems at Lockheed.
The LCS is designed specifically to operate in shallow coastal waters, along with regular sea operations. It is designed to be modular, allowing multiple weapons and sensor packages depending on the mission of the ship.
The vessel's standard armament is a MK 110 57mm gun, and can also be equipped with RIM-110 RAM surface-to-air missiles and a variety of other ordnance. It can carry up to two helicopters and vertical take-off drones like the MQ-8 Fire Scout.