Navy to Christen First LCS

Friday, September 22, 2006
The U.S. Navy will christen Freedom, the first littoral combat ship (LCS) at 10 a.m. EDT Sept. 23, during a ceremony at Marinette Marine Corp. in Marinette, Wis.

The future USS Freedom acknowledges the enduring foundation of our nation and honors American communities from coast to coast which bear the name Freedom. States having towns named Freedom include California, Indiana, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Wyoming. The 378-foot Freedom will be the first U.S. Navy ship to carry this class designation.

Birgit Smith will serve as ship’s sponsor. She is the widow of Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith, who was killed in action in Operation Iraqi Freedom and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. The ceremony will be highlighted by Smith breaking a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally christen the ship, which is a time-honored Navy tradition. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Mullen will deliver the principal address at the ceremony.

A fast, agile, and high-technology surface combatant, Freedom will act as a platform for launch and recovery of manned and unmanned vehicles. Its modular design will support interchangeable mission packages, allowing the ship to be reconfigured for antisubmarine warfare, mine warfare, or surface warfare missions on an as-needed basis. The LCS will be able to swap out mission packages pierside in a matter of hours, adapting as the tactical situation demands. These ships will also feature advanced networking capability to share tactical information with other Navy aircraft, ships, submarines and joint units.

Freedom is the first of two LCS seaframes being produced. Freedom is an innovative combatant designed to operate quickly in shallow water environments to counter challenging threats in coastal regions, specifically mines, submarines and fast surface craft. The LCS is capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots and can operate in water less than 20 feet deep.

Freedom will be manned by one of two rotational crews, blue and gold, similar to the rotational crews assigned to Trident submarines. The crews will be augmented by one of three mission package crews during focused mission assignments. The blue crew commanding officer is Cmdr. Donald Gabrielson, who was born in northern Minnesota and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1989. The gold crew commanding officer is Cmdr. Michael Doran, who was born in Harrisonville, Mo., and graduated from Villanova University in 1989. Upon the ship’s commissioning in 2007, Freedom will be homeported at Naval Station San Diego.

In May 2004, the Department of Defense awarded both Lockheed Martin Corp., Maritime Systems & Sensors in Moorestown, N.J., and General Dynamics - Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, separate contract options for final system design, with options for detail design and construction of up to two flights of LCS ships.

In December 2004, the Navy awarded Lockheed Martin Corp. the contract for detail design and construction of the first LCS. Lockheed Martin’s teammates include Gibbs & Cox in Arlington, Va.; Marinette Marine Corp. in Marinette, Wis., where the ship is being built; and Bollinger Shipyards in Lockport, La.

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