The keel has been laid for the US Navy’s 21st Freedom-class littoral combat ship, the future USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul (LCS 21), at Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wisconsin, marking the beginning of its construction process.
The approximately 388ft-long ship is being constructed using a modular design approach that incorporates mission packages, which can be changed out quickly in line with combat requirements.
Its mission packages will be supported by detachments that deploy both manned and unmanned vehicles, as well as sensors, in order to support a wide range of mine, undersea and surface warfare missions.
The roughly 58ft-wide future USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul will have a displacement of about 3,000t.
It will be able to travel at speeds of more than 40k.
Furthermore, the vessel will be capable of supporting two MH-60R/S or one MH-60R/S helicopter, in addition to vertical take-off and landing tactical unmanned air vehicles (VTUAVs).
LCS 21 will be constructed by an industry team led by Lockheed Martin at Fincantieri Marinette Marine.
LCS programme manager US Navy captain Mike Taylor said: “The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul have a strong bond with the navy.
“This LCS will be the second ship to bear the cities’ name, and will reaffirm that bond.
“We are honoured to lay the keel of a ship, which will protect our freedom and keep us safe as our sailors operate her on the world’s seas.”
The US navy vessel is expected to be christened in 2020 and will be commissioned in 2022.
It is one of eight vessels that are currently under various stages of construction at the Fincantieri shipyard.