The Pentagon’s top weapons systems supplier, Lockheed Martin, held a christening and launching ceremony for future USS Nantucket, the US Navy’s 27th littoral combat ship (LCS).
The ceremony took place at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine Shipyard on Saturday, August 7, and saw the ship slide into the Menominee River.
The Lockheed Martin-led team continues work on the Freedom variant of the littoral combat ships as work continues on finding a solution to the material defect with the complicated combining gear used on the ships.
First tests of a solution that is to be retrofitted on 13 Freedom variant LCS are expected to take place this month, but the solution is expected to take years to reach all of the affected ships, officials told USNI News recently. According to the report, the navy, the defective bearing manufacturer RENK, and Lockheed Marin have come up with three potential procedures to replace the gears.
“One requires a hull cut in the middle of the ship, while a second unvalidated repair replaces the bearings without removing the gear. The third, which was used on Minneapolis-Saint Paul, involved dropping the gear to the mission bay where the ship’s small boats will reside and removing the gear through the door in the aft of the hull,” the USNI News report said. The question of how the repairs will be completed, and who will pay for the procedures, is still an open one.
The navy has stopped accepting deliveries of the ships until the problem is resolved.
“Lockheed Martin is proud to celebrate this milestone for LCS 27 the future USS Nantucket. The Lockheed Martin team continues to partner with the US Navy to add lethality and survivability enhancements to the highly capable LCS class and we look forward to continued delivery of these adaptable ships,” Steve Allen, Lockheed Martin vice president, Small Combatants and Ship Systems, said.
The LCS program is split into two classes, the monohull Freedom variant and the aluminium trimaran Independence variant. The program envisions the ships as being capable of conducting mine countermeasures, anti-submarine and surface warfare missions by embarking different mission modules.
The Freedom-class is 115 meters long and has a core crew of 50 sailors. Lockheed is also offering an export variant of the ship, known as the multi-mission combat ship, and has already secured a four-ship order from Saudi Arabia.
Lockheed Martin is in full-rate production and has delivered 10 ships to the US Navy. There are currently six ships in various stages of production.