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Despite the looming threat of sequestration, the USS Freedom is still scheduled to deploy from San Diego in March, according to a recent memo to the Chief of Naval Operations.
In that memo, Vice Adm. Richard W. Hunt outlined specific achievements of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Council, including the scheduled deployment of the Freedom- the Navy’sfirst Littoral Combat Ship.
On Thursday, USS Freedom departed San Diego to conduct sea trials.
The littoral combat ship (LCS) is a class of relatively small surface vessels intended for operations in the littoral zone (close to shore) by the United States Navy. It was “envisioned to be a networked, agile, stealthy surface combatant capable of defeating anti-access and asymmetric threats in the littorals.”
The Freedom class and the Independence class are the first two variants of LCS by the U.S. Navy. LCS designs are slightly smaller than the U.S. Navy’s guided missile frigates, and have been likened to corvettes of other navies. However, the LCS designs add the capabilities of a small assault transport with a flight deck and hangar large enough to base two SH-60 Seahawkhelicopters, the capability to recover and launch small boats from a stern ramp, and enough cargo volume and payload to deliver a small assault force with armoured fighting vehicles to a roll-on/roll-off port facility. The standard armament for the LCS are Mk 110 57 mm guns and Rolling Airframe Missiles. It will also be able to launch autonomous air, surface, and underwatervehicles. Although the LCS designs offer less air defense and surface-to-surface capabilities than comparable destroyers, the LCS concept emphasizes speed, flexible mission module space and a shallow draft.