February / March 2012 - Navy
By LT Jan Shultis, USN
Public Affairs, Naval Surface Forces Command
It’s fast. It’s agile. It’s a networked surface combatant
designed to operate in the littoral but
capable of open-ocean tasking.
It’s the littoral combat ship (LCS), the Navy’s
newest ship class; and it’s manned by 40 Sailors
who are proud to be there.
“It feels great to be part of such an ambitious
project,” said LTjg Scott Tollefson, Weapons Officer
onboard USS INDEPENDENCE (LCS 2). “People are
excited about the INDEPENDENCE and for good
reason––we work with cutting edge equipment.
The fundamentals are the same as any Navy ship,
but we hone those skills to make the absolute most
of our 40-person crew.”
LCS will be used to establish and maintain dominance in
the littorals, a critical part of the Surface Force’s ability to provide
credible capability for deterrence, sea control, and power
projection around the world; to deter or detain conflict; fight
and win wars; and support our interests in an era of uncertainty.
The Navy is committed to growing the class to a full 55 ships.
The LCS fleet includes two ship designs, greatly enhancing
operational flexibility and the Surface Force’s ability to respond
to emergent tasking. In December 2010, the Navy awarded
Lockheed Martin Corporation and Austal USA each a fixedprice
contract for the construction and design of ten ships each,
for a total of 20 ships by fiscal year 2015. Each ship is equipped
with aviation features, large payload capacities and flexible
mission configurations, all operated within a fast, stable and
efficient sea frame.
“The global environment presents complex and uncertain
challenges,” said VADM Richard Hunt, Commander, Naval
Surface Forces. “We need the right Surface Fleet with the right
warfighting capabilities and readiness to ensure we remain
engaged with other nations, operations forward, projecting
credible combat power, ensuring stability and security across
the strategic crossroads. We must encourage innovation in both
concepts of operation and new capabilities to
develop the ‘game changers’ that will ensure we
remain the world’s most dominant Navy.”
Each LCS is manned by two rotational crews––
blue and gold. Sailors are made ready for duty
through a train-to-qualify process that connects
the initial LCS training model to personnel qualification
standards. Qualification is shifted from
the ship to shore training, which means that LCS
Sailors report aboard ready to stand their watch
and execute assigned duties.
The Shore Based Training Facility (SBTF),
located in San Diego and managed by the Center
for Surface Combat Systems (CSCS) Detachment
there, is the cornerstone of this training. The LCS
SBTF is the first surface warfare training facility
to provide integrated bridge and combat systems
tactical scenario training for Sailors serving
on board an LCS.
“The mission of the SBTF is two-fold,” explained Brian Deters,
CSCS’s first technical support director. “It provides integrated
training for Sailors and serves as the primary training venue
for LCS off-crew preparing for deployment certification.”
LCS crew members often remark on the significance of
serving on such a technologically advanced platform, where,
among other things, a Zoomba robot helps keep the decks
clean and driving the ship involves a joystick.
“Being a part of the USS INDEPENDENCE is a dream come
true for me,” said LTjg Samuel Bryant, Main Propulsion Assistant.
“The platform is at the cutting edge of military technology and
the forefront of the Navy’s overall combat initiative. I feel like I
am part of a crew that is ready to answer that call and meet
The core crew is not the only team expressing pride and
a sense of accomplishment. With aviation and mission
module personnel embarked, the number of personnel
onboard grows to approximately 75.
“The aviation community in general and the rotary-wing
community in particular has much to be proud of with
respect to operations conducted onboard USS FREEDOM,”
said LCDR Roy Zaletski, Officer in Charge, HSC-22, deployed
onboard FREEDOM. FREEDOM first deployed in 2010,
over two years ahead of schedule. While operating in the
U.S. 4th and 3rd Fleet areas of responsibility, she conducted
successful counter-illicit trafficking operations, successfully
integrated with a carrier strike group, performed exercises
with partner navies and conducted maneuvers with other
ships and an embarked Fire Scout.
“The successes achieved during the counter-illicit
trafficking mission were some of the most memorable
moments of my career,” said LCDR Zaletski. “To participate
in such high-intensity operations as part of an incredibly
competent and interoperable team was quite rewarding.”
“Rewarding” is a term you hear a lot aboard LCS.
Where are they now?
Two LCS have already joined the fleet – USS FREEDOM (LCS 1), homeported in San
Diego and USS INDEPENDENCE (LCS 2), homeported in San Diego and currently
operating out of Mayport.
- PCU FORT WORTH (LCS 3) is under construction at Marinette Marine; it was launched
4 Dec. 2010 and delivery is expected in 2012.
- PCU CORONADO (LCS 4) is under construction at Austal USA; it was launched 14 Jan.
2011 and delivery is expected in 2012.
- MILWAUKEE (LCS 5) and JACKSON (LCS 6) are in the early phases of construction –
MILWAUKEE by Lockheed in Marinette, Wis., and JACKSON by Austal in Mobile, Ala.
n DETROIT (LCS 7) and MONTGOMERY (LCS 8) are continuing pre-production efforts in
Marinette by Lockheed and Mobile by Austal, respectively.
From the air––LCDR Roy Zaletski, Officer in Charge of helicopter detachment
HSC-22, on operating onboard USS FREEDOM (LCS 1) during her maiden deployment
and unique contributors to success:
Utilization of LINK-16 technology enabled maintenance of communication
beyond the typical range and allowed for secure interaction between ship and
helicopter, enhancing battlespace awareness.
- FREEDOM’s closing speed increased the range at which counter-illicit trafficking
targets could be searched for and prosecuted. (The U.S. Coast Guard’s guide for
Airborne Use of Force prohibit the use of disabling fire on a suspected trafficker
unless there is a Navy or Coast Guard vessel that can close on the target in a
prescribed amount of time.)
- Successful completion of air operations at consistently high speeds and relative
winds provided validation of the safety of operating at these speeds.