Austal USA delivered the future USS Jackson to the U.S. Navy as part of its first littoral combat ship in a 10-ship, $3.5 billion block-buy contract. This latest vessel represents the fifth LCS and the third of the Independence variant to join the Navy. Navy officials expressed enthusiasm about Tuesday’s arrival of the USS Jackson, which will soon bring the total operational number of LCS ships up to five.
"It also marks a significant milestone for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program, as the first of 20 LCS block buy ships delivers to the Navy,"
said LCS program manager Captain Tom Anderson.
“Next up, we are to receive the USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) in October of this year and the USS Montgomery (LCS 8) in December of this year,”
Naval Sea Systems Command spokesman Chris Johnson explained, who also expects delivery of the USS Detroit (LCS 7) in February of next year.
"By early next year, the Navy will be operating eight littoral combat ships and we'll be accepting four more by the end of 2016," Johnson told Military.com. “The Navy will continue to accept ships at that rate for the next several years, making the LCS class the second-largest surface combatant class in the fleet and the key to our ability to operate in shallow, coastal waterways around the world."
Following commissioning and shock trials, Jackson will be based in San Diego with her sister ships USS Freedom (LCS 1), USS Independence (LCS 2), USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) and the USS Coronado (LCS 4). The arrival of four new vessels comes at a time when the service is making progress with improvements to the platform following the initial LCS deployments.
During its initial deployment in 2013 to Singapore and areas in the South China Sea, the USS Freedom experienced a wide range of technical and reliability problems that resulted in a series of short and long-term fixes. Lawmakers, analysts, and members of the Navy have said the ships are outdated and not up to speed in order to adapt in a fast-evolving world of surface warfare threats. Proponents of the LCS rebutted that the ships are designed to overcome threats in coastal waters where submarines, mines, and small craft rule. Nonetheless, these very concerns have prompted the Pentagon and US Navy to develop a new LCS variant, the frigate, which is designed to capitalize on the LCS platform while making it more lethal and survivable.
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