Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer has announced the names of the next two littoral combat ships, one each from the Freedom and Independence variants of the vessel.
The next Freedom-variant LCS will be named USS Beloit and the next Independence-variant LCS will be USS Santa Barbara, Spencer said on Tuesday.
"From building engines for freedom-variant LCSs to manufacturing components for the Ford-class aircraft carriers, the contributions of Beloit citizens make our Navy stronger, more capable and more lethal," Spencer said, in a statement, of selecting the name for the next Freedom-variant ship.
The USS Beloit, LCS 29, will be built by Lockheed Martin and Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wisc. The ship will be 387 feet long, with a beam of 57.4 feet and be capable of traveling at speeds up to and above 40 knots.
On the Santa Barbara, Spencer said "this city's innovative workforce and longstanding support of our Navy and Marine Corps team, whether active duty, reserve force, civilian or veterans, the support from this community strengthens our Navy and nation."
The USS Santa Barbara, LCS 32, the third ship to be named for the California city, will be 421 feet long and have a beam length of 103.7 feet, in addition to moving at speeds above 40 knots. The Santa Barbara will be built by Austal USA in Mobile, Ala.
The LCS, which has been plagued by criticism over design issues and concerns about its firepower, among other worries, is designed to be modular in order to carry various mission-specific packages.
While the Navy has already requested designs for a new class of guided-missile frigates to replace the LCS, the Navy ordered the two newly-named ships, as well as LCS 34, in mid-September -- and said at the time that more may be ordered in 2019 as well.
In August, Lockheed delivered the USS Sioux City and USS Wichita to the Navy -- the 14th and 15th LCS vessels the branch has received -- with their commissionings expected in November and sometime in early 2019.
The Navy also christened the USS Kansas City, the 11th Independence-class LCS, in Mobile., Ala., in mid-September.