The Lockheed Martin-led industry team has laid the keel for the future USS Sioux City, the US Navy's 11th littoral combat ship (LCS), in a ceremony held at Marinette Marine's facility in Wisconsin, US.
The welding of ship sponsor Mary Winnefeld's initials signalled the start of the construction of 378ft Sioux City, which will be equipped with reconfigurable payloads that can be quickly changed out as combat requirements demand.
Also called mission packages, the payloads are supported by special detachments that will deploy manned and unmanned vehicles and sensors in support of mine, undersea and surface warfare missions.
Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training business executive vice-president Dale Bennett said: "We are working in partnership with the Navy as they build a fleet able to operate forward, stand ready for any challenges, and serve our essential warfighting requirements."
The Lockheed-led LCS team consists of Marinette Marine, a Fincantieri company, Gibbs & Cox, as well as nearly 900 suppliers in 43 states, including approximately 30 small businesses in Wisconsin and Michigan, US.
The LCS 11 is expected to enter the US Navy service by 2016, Sioux City Journal.com reports.
Developed in two variants, namely the monohull design Freedom variant and the trimaran design Independence variant by Lockheed Martin and Austal USA-led teams, the LCS ships are fast, agile and focused-mission surface combatants designed to provide most capable, cost-effective solutions to gain, sustain and exploit littoral maritime supremacy for troops.
Two Freedom class ships, USS Freedom and USS Fort Worth have been delivered to the navy, while five are under construction.
Image: Marinette Marine employee welding initials of the sponsor of the future USS Sioux City in Marinet
te, Wisconsin, US. Photo: © 2013 Lockheed Martin Corporation.