An industry team led by Lockheed Martin has performed the keel-laying ceremony of the US Navy’s Freedom-variant littoral combat ship (LCS) 27 in Marinette.

Construction on the future USS Nantucket has started at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard.

Sponsored by US Navy Secretary Richard Spencer’s wife, Polly Spencer, USS Nantucket will be the 14th Freedom-variant LCS.

Richard Spencer said: “The USS Nantucket will confront many complex challenges. It will confront humanitarian relief all the way to great power competition, drawing on the strength of every weld, every rivet applied by the great people here.”

The LCS vessels can be used to support anti-submarine and surface warfare missions, as well as mine countermeasures.

Lockheed Martin Small Combatants and Ship Systems vice-president and general manager Joe DePietro said: “LCS’ built-in flexibility makes it unlike any other navy ship in the water today.

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“LCS can serve a multitude of missions to include surface, anti-submarine, and mine countermeasure missions by quickly integrating mission equipment and deploying manned and unmanned aerial, surface or sub-surface vehicles.”

The Freedom-class LCS 27 is named in honour of Nantucket, Massachusetts. The ships in this class are armed with rolling airframe missiles (RAM) and a Mark 110 gun.

The hull design of the LCS supports the integration of Longbow Hellfire missiles, 30mm guns, and manned and unmanned vehicles.

Automated ships can cruise at speeds greater than 40k.

Fincantieri Marinette Marine CEO Jan Allman said: “We are very excited to begin construction of the future USS Nantucket. Our men and women are proud to put their efforts into giving the navy versatile ships to keep our country and its interests safe.”