Wärtsilä won the contract to supply the waterjet propulsion system for two US Navy's Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Independence Class vessels with an option for an additional eight ship sets expected to be exercised later. The system employs Wärtsilä's axial waterjet technology matching the needs for fast vessel accelerations and high manoeuvrability. The vessels are being built by Austal USA in Mobile, labama. The orders currently on hand are for four WLD 1720SR and four WLD 1500SR Axial Waterjets to be supplied to the first two vessels. The first vessel is expected to be delivered in autumn 2012, and the second in spring 2013. The WLD series is a continuation of Wärtsilä's proven design approach for reliable waterjets with a minimum of moving parts, a fail-safe waterborne stator bearing, and an inboard thrust bearing. The inboard thrust bearing is easily accessible for maintenance and prevents the potential for oil pollution that exists when the thrust bearing is located outboard in the stator. In announcing the award of this contract, Aaron Bresnahan, Vice President, Specials, Wärtsilä Ship Power said: "It is an honor for Wärtsilä to be selected as a supplier of axial waterjets to the US Navy. The proven technology that these units employ has been so successful that Wärtsilä has now implemented a new product line of mid-size waterjets in the 1000 to 4000 kW power range. We have taken the next step in waterjets to increase power densities. We are already clearly the technical leader in large axial flow waterjets." Testing of the Wärtsilä axial waterjets was carried out at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Carderock, Maryland, USA and was followed by full-scale vessel operations.