The US Navy’s first littoral combat ship, USS Freedom (LCS 1), has begun its maiden deployment from Naval Station Mayport, Florida, two years ahead of schedule.

The Lockheed Martin-built USS Freedom will deploy to the Southern Command area where it will take on patrolling missions to combat smugglers in the Caribbean as it works its way to its homeport of San Diego.

USS Freedom is a fast, agile and networked surface ship, which will employ focused-mission packages equipped with both manned and unmanned air, surface, and sub-surface vehicles.

LCS 1 is the first of the planned 55 new class of ships designed to operate in coastal waters.

The 115m long and 17.5m wide LCS has a full load displacement of approximately 3,000mt and a cruising speed in excess of 40 knots.

USS Freedom successfully completed sea trials where the performance of combat, communications and other critical systems were demonstrated.