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US Navy to commission new LCS as first two ships in class prepare to bow out

US Navy file photo of Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10)

The US Navy is preparing to commission a new littoral combat ship over the weekend as it prepares to retire the first two ships in the class.

The service is yet to receive all LCS it plans to buy, but is already mothballing the first two before the end of the year. These are the USS Freedom and USS Independence, which will retire after just 13 and 11 years of service, respectively. USS Independence will be put into inactive reserve status in July, and the USS Freedom in September.

USS Mobile, the Independence-variant LCS that will join the navy ranks in Mobile, Alabama, on May 22, is the 26th ship out of a total of 38 ships in the class planned for construction.

The delivery of the remaining ships is certain to take several years to complete, especially taking into consideration the fact that the navy has halted deliveries of the Freedom variant LCS due to the persistent propulsion problems. The navy said in January this year that it would not accept further ship deliveries until the problem is fixed.

Built by Austal USA in Mobile, Ala., Mobile was christened Dec. 7, 2019 and delivered to the Navy on Dec. 9, 2020. The ship is 421 feet in length, has a beam of 103 feet, and a navigational draft of 15 feet.

Following its commissioning, USS Mobile will be homeport at Naval Base San Diego, California.

Cmdr. Christopher W. Wolff, a third-generation naval officer, is the ship’s commanding officer and leads a crew of 70 officers and enlisted sailors.

“It has been an amazing experience to get to know our namesake city so well, while having the opportunity to live, work, and commission the ship right here in Mobile, where she was built,” said Wolff.