The US Navy has received the missile range instrumentation ship USNS Howard O. Lorenzen (T-AGM 25), which is slated to replace the existing USNS Observation Island (T-AGM-23) ship, from VT Halter Marine.

Delivery of the new frigate follows the US Navy’s initial $199m contract awarded to VT Halter in 2006 and the ship had been under construction since August 2008. VT Halter laid the keel for T-AGM 25 in June 2008 and the vessel was christened in June 2010. USNS Howard’s design is based on a pair of navy survey ships built in the mid-1980s and provides high-quality, dual-band radar data in support of ballistic missile treaty verification.

The 12,575t, 534ft-long ship can accommodate a crew of 88 sailors and civilian mariners and will be operated by Military Sealift Command (MSC) and conduct missions sponsored by the air force. The ship is equipped with a Raytheon-built dual-band radar suite, which consists of X and S-band phased array sensors, a common radar suite controller and other related mission equipment.

The frigate is intended to carry the Cobra Judy Replacement (CJR) radar, a key sensor used in treaty monitoring and verification for ballistic missile issues. The CJR radar will replace the ageing 1970-built Cobra Judy system, which is due to be decommissioned in 2013, and will be used to improve the missile efficiency and accuracy of the ship.

The USNS Howard O. Lorenzen completed acceptance trials in November 2011 and will undergo radar installation, integration and testing at Kiewit Offshore Services, Texas, US. Initial operational capability is scheduled to be achieved in 2013.