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Lockheed delivers two new LCS ships to the U.S. Navy

The future USS Sioux City and future USS Wichita have been delivered to the Navy, with expectations they will be commissioned later this year.

By Stephen Carlson
Lockheed delivers two new LCS ships to the U.S. Navy
The USS Wichita (LCS 13) and USS Sioux City (LCS 11) are berthed bow to bow at Lockheed Martin in Marinette, Wis., on Wednesday as both ships were delivered to the U.S. Navy during ceremonies held at the shipyard. Photo by Brian Kriese/ SUPSHIP Bath Det. Marinette/U.S. Navy

Aug. 23 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin and Fincantieri Marinette Marine has delivered the Littoral Combat Ships USS Sioux City, LCS 11, and USS Wichita, LCS 13, to the U.S. Navy.

With Wednesday's delivery, Lockheed and Fincantieri have now delivered seven ships of the Freedom-class variant of the LCS. The two vessels are the 14th and 15 LCSs delivered to the Navy overall.

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"We look forward to the day the future USS Sioux City and USS Wichita join the fleet," Joe DePietro, vice president of Lockheed Martin's Small Combatants and Ship Systems, said in a press release. "LCS is a growing component in the U.S. Navy surface force, designed to fulfill critical missions around the world now and in the future."

The Sioux City, or LCS 11, is the sixth Freedom-variant of the LCS line and will be commissioned at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md, on November 17. The vessel will be the first combat ship commissioned at the Naval Academy.

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The Wichita, or LCS 13, is expected to be commissioned sometime between December 2018 and February 2019. The vessel completed its acceptance trials in July.

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"The future USS Wichita is the first East Coast Mine Warfare Division ship," Capt. Shawn Johnston, commander of LCS Squadron Two, said in a Naval Sea Systems Command press release. "She will have a chance to test some of the latest and greatest mine warfare systems after she completes her remaining combat systems trials."

"The future USS Sioux City is a welcome addition to the East Coast Surface Warfare Division," Johnston added. "Both her Blue and Gold crews are ready to put this ship though her paces and prepare the ship to deploy."

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In addition to the Freedom-class, Austal USA has delivered and is constructing the similar Independence-class LCS vessels. The LCS classes of ships are designed to operate close to shore for patrol, interdiction, mine-countermeasures, undersea warfare operations and other missions. The ship's modular design is meant to be outfitted based on mission requirements.

The Freedom-class mounts a Mk 110 57mm gun, two Bushmaster 30mm cannons, and RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missiles for point-defense against low-flying and sea-skimming targets like anti-ship missiles.

It was designed for carrying the cancelled Non-Line Of Sight missile for surface targets but the launch equipment has since been removed. The Navy is currently testing Hellfire laser-guided missiles as a alternative.

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The Navy has released requirements for a frigate-class vessel known as the FFG(X) due to concerns with the LCS program. LCS's are considered under-armed, under-crewed and too narrowly-focused to fulfill the role of frigates in the Navy.

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