Lockheed Martin and Fincantieri Marinette Marine have authenticated the keel of the future USS Marinette littoral combat ship (LCS) 25.

The event was marked by a ceremony during which former Michigan governor and the ship’s sponsor Jennifer Granholm had her initials welded into the keel plate.

Lockheed Martin Small Combatants and Ship Systems vice-president and general manager Joe DePietro said: “LCS brings something really special to the Navy. There is no other class of ship that delivers this level of flexibility for future missions.

“LCS brings something really special to the Navy. There is no other class of ship that delivers this level of flexibility for future missions.”

“LCS is minimally manned, so the US Navy can efficiently project presence around the world. It really is a remarkable ship, and our team is so proud to begin construction on the future USS Marinette for the Navy.”

Capable of cruising at speeds in excess of 40k, the Freedom-class LCS 25 is automated and about 40% of the hull is easily reconfigurable.

The LCS can be fitted with additional capabilities such as over-the-horizon missiles and advanced e-warfare systems and radars.

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It is also equipped with rolling airframe missiles and a Mark 110 gun that is capable of firing 220 rounds per minute to enhance its lethality.

Fincantieri Marinette Marine president and CEO Jan Allman said: “We are thrilled to build the future USS Marinette. As shipbuilders, we transform flat panels of steel into warships and feel so much pride in the craftsmanship required to do this important work. It is an honour to be able to do that for the ship named after our hometown.”

The vessel is the first US Navy ship to bear the name Marinette, acknowledging the town’s contribution to navy shipbuilding.