The US Navy is set to commission its newest Freedom-variant littoral combat ship (LCS), the USS Wichita (LCS 13), at Naval Station Mayport, Florida, near Jacksonville.

USS Wichita, which will be homeported at the Naval Station Mayport, is the 13th vessel in the Freedom class of LCS’s.

The ship set sail for Jacksonville from Lockheed Martin’s Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard earlier this week.

Having undergone sea trials in July last year, the vessel will continue training exercises during its southward journey along the Eastern Seaboard.

US Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said: “This commissioning represents USS Wichita’s entry into the active fleet and is a testament to the increased capabilities made possible by a true partnership between the Department of the Navy and our industrial base.

"It will be deployed to carry out minesweeping operations, humanitarian support, anti-submarine and drug trafficking surveillance."

“This ship honours the citizens of Wichita, Kansas for their longstanding support of the Navy and Marine Corps team and I am confident USS Wichita and crew will make our Navy and nation stronger.”

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USS Wichita is sponsored by US author Kate Lehrer and is designed to support operations in shallow waters close to shore as well as the open ocean.

It will be deployed to carry out minesweeping operations, humanitarian support, anti-submarine and drug trafficking surveillance.

LCS 13 is the third US Navy ship to be named after Wichita, Kansas’s largest city and features a launching pad for two MH-60 Seahawk helicopters.

The LCS comprises two variants, the Freedom-variant and the Independence-variant. The Freedom-variant is designed and built by a team led by Lockheed Martin, while the other variant is built by Austal USA.