US Navy Decommissions USS Independence (LCS 2) After 11 Years of Service
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USS Independence is the lead ship of the Independence-class of littoral combat ships. The hull design evolved from a project at Austal to design a high speed, 40-knot cruise ship. General Dynamics and Austal proposed The Independence-class as a contender for Navy plans to build a fleet of smaller, agile, multipurpose warships to operate nearshore in the littoral zone. Independence, delivered to the Navy at the end of 2009. The ship is a trimaran design with a wide beam above the waterline that supports a larger flight deck than those of the Navy’s much larger destroyers and cruisers and a large hangar and a similarly large mission bay below.
It was announced in early September 2016 that the first four vessels of the LCS program, including lead ship Independence and Coronado would be used as test ships rather than being deployed with the fleet.
Independence carries a default armament for self-defence and command and control. Unlike traditional combatants with fixed armaments such as guns and missiles, tailored mission modules can be configured for one mission package at a time. Modules may consist of manned aircraft, unmanned vehicles, off-board sensors, or mission manning detachments.
The Raytheon Evolved SeaRAM missile defence system is installed on the hangar roof. Northrop Grumman has demonstrated sensor fusion of onboard systems in the Integrated Combat Management System (ICMS) used on Independence.
The LCS class consists of two variants, the Freedom variant and the Independence variant, designed and built by two industry teams. Lockheed Martin leads the Freedom-variant team. It is a steel monohull design constructed in the Fincantieri Marinette Marine Corporation’s shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin. The Independence-variant is an aluminium trimaran design originally built by an industry team led by General Dynamics Bath Iron Works for LCS 2 and LCS 4. Currently, Independence-variant LCS are constructed by Austal USA in the company’s Mobile, Alabama shipyard.
Austal claimed that Independence would use one-third less fuel than Freedom. However, the Congressional Budget Office found that fuel would account for 18 per cent or less of the total lifetime cost of Freedom. While it was unable to judge the fuel usage of Independence, the higher purchase price of Independence would dominate her lifetime costs.