Lockheed Martin has started construction of the US Navy's 13th littoral combat ship (LCS-13), the future USS Wichita, at Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wisconsin, US.
Lockheed Martin Littoral Ships and Systems vice-president Joe North said: "This ship class, and the industry team behind it, has shown it can adapt to meet the navy's most challenging missions and provide a powerful, modular platform."
The Freedom-variant LCS will support a range of missions, including anti-submarine, surface and mine countermeasure warfare, as well as shipping lane protection and humanitarian aid.
Designed as a high-speed, agile, shallow-draft, focused-mission surface combatant, the vessel is armed with the Mk110 57mm naval gun system that can fire Mk295 ammunition at a rate of 220 rounds a minute to a range of 14km.
It will also be used to conduct several missions, including lower-end, near-shore environments and open-ocean, in addition to asymmetric threats such as mines, silent diesel submarines and fast surface craft.
The US Navy is planning to procure around 55 LCSs, which are relatively small surface vessels, as part of efforts to establish and maintain its supremacy in the littorals and sea lanes of communication choke points worldwide.
The construction team in Wichita has so far delivered two vessels, with others in several stages of construction and testing.
Image: The keel laying of the US Navy's 13th littoral combat ship, USS Wichita. Photo: courtesy of Lockheed Martin Corporation.