The USS Wichita (LCS-13) is a Freedom-class littoral combat ship of the United States Navy. It will be the third ship named after Wichita, the largest city in Kansas. Previous ships to bear the name included a World War II heavy cruiser (CA-45) and a Wichita-class Replenishment Oiler (AOR-1). The ceremonial “laying of the keel” was on February 9, 2015 in Marinette, Wisconsin. Sponsored by Kate Lehrer, wife of Wichita native Jim Lehrer, the ship was christened and launched on September 17, 2016. The naval crest of the ship incorporates elements of the Wichita flag, along with a buffalo skull and feathers representing the Native American heritage and wheat to reflect the state of Kansas’s main crop. She is assigned to Littoral Combat Ship Squadron TWO. The ship was acquired by the US Navy from Lockheed Martin and the Marinette Marine shipyard on 22 August 2018 along with USS Sioux City in a double delivery.
The USS Wichita (LCS-13) ship is a semi-planing steel monohull with an aluminum superstructure. It is 377 feet (115 m) in length, displaces 3,500 metric tons (3,400 long tons), and can achieve 47 knots (87 km/h; 54 mph). The design incorporates a large reconfigurable seaframe to allow rapidly interchangeable mission modules, a flight deck with integrated helicopter launch, recovery and handling system and the capability to launch and recover boats (manned and unmanned) from both the stern and side. The flight deck is one and a half times larger than that of a standard surface ship, and uses a Trigon traversing system to move helicopters in and out of the hangar. The fore deck has a modular weapons zone which can be used for a BAE Systems Mk 110 57 mm gun, 400 rounds in turret and two service magazines with 240 rounds each. A Mk 49 Launcher – rolling Airframe Surface-to-Air Missiles launcher is mounted above the hangar for short-range defense against aircraft and cruise missiles, and .50-caliber gun mounts are provided topside. Four (4) Isotta Fraschini V1708 diesel engines, Hitzinger generator unites, 800 kW each to power the ship systems.
The Freedom class is one of two classes of the littoral combat ship program, built for the United States Navy. The Freedom class was proposed by Lockheed Martin as a contender for a fleet of small, multipurpose warships to operate in the littoral zone. Two ships were approved, to compete with the Independence-class design offered by General Dynamics and Austal for a construction contract of up to 55 vessels. Despite initial plans to only accept two of the Freedom and Independence variants, the U.S. Navy has since announced plans to order up to ten additional ships of each class, for a total twelve ships per class. As of 2016, five ships are active and an additional nine are either on order, under construction or fitting out. Starting in 2019, ships of this class will be designated as fast frigates (FF) which will include increased firepower and heavier armor. It was announced in early September 2016 that the first four vessels of the LCS program would be used as test ships rather than being deployed with the fleet. This includes Freedom and Fort Worth.