Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) 13, to be designated the USS Wichita, completed acceptance trials July 12 in Lake Michigan in preparation for delivery to the U.S. Navy in late summer 2018. Lockheed Martin announced the future Wichita, which will be the seventh Freedom-class LCS to be delivered to the US Navy, completed the trials, which were conducted July 9-12.
“LCS 13’s completion of acceptance trials means this ship is one step closer to joining the fleet and conducting critical maritime operations for the Navy,” Joe DePietro, vice president of small combatants and ship systems at Lockheed Martin, said in a press release. “This ship is agile, powerful and lethal, and the industry team and I are looking forward to her delivery, commissioning and deployment,” Depietro said. “These are complex vessels, and it takes a strong team effort to design, build and test these American warships.
The Wichita is one of eight LCS vessels in production and testing, with another currently in long-lead production and projected to start construction in the near future. LCS 15, which will be designated the USS Billings, is the next in the series and is expected to complete trials later this year. The LCS classes of ships are designed to operate close to shore for patrol, interdiction, mine-countermeasures, undersea warfare operations and other missions. The ships’ modular design is meant to be outfitted based on mission requirements.
The Freedom-class mounts an 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 also designed for carrying the cancelled Non-Line Of Sight missile for surface targets, but the launch equipment has since been removed. The Navy has released requirements for a frigate-class vessel, the guided-missile frigates have been designated FFG(X), due to dissatisfaction with the LCS program. LCS’s are considered under-armed, under-crewed and to narrowly focused to fully fulfill the role of frigates in the Navy as planned.