The US Navy's future Freedom-class littoral combat ship (LCS 9) USS Little Rock has successfully completed builder's trials.

The sea trials were carried out in Lake Michigan by a Lockheed Martin-led team of industry personnel.

Lockheed Martin Littoral Ships and Systems vice-president Joe North said: “The Freedom-variant LCS plays a critical role in the US Navy's fleet, and we are committed to getting Little Rock and her highly capable sister ships into combatant commanders' hands as quickly as possible.”

The builder's trials have been conducted to successfully demonstrate the reliability and enhanced performance of the vessel’s upgraded propulsion system.

All future Freedom-class LCSs are now expected to be incorporated with the upgrades following their successful integration on USS Little Rock.

The Lockheed Martin-led team is currently preparing the naval vessel for acceptance trials, which are set to be conducted over the coming weeks.

"We are committed to getting Little Rock and her highly capable sister ships into combatant commanders’ hands as quickly as possible."

The next set of trials will see the US Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) carry out inspections and assess final demonstrations before delivering the vessel to the navy later this year.

USS Little Rock is one of eight LCSs currently contracted for delivery to the US Navy. The other vessels are in various stages of development at Fincantieri Marinette Marine.

The industry team has delivered four Freedom-variant LCS ships to date and is currently slated to complete sea trials for LCS 9 and LCS 11 before the end of the year.

USS Little Rock will be commissioned by the Commissioning Committee later this year in Buffalo, New York.

Image: The US Navy’s future USS Little Rock (LCS 9). Photo: courtesy of Lockheed Martin Corporation.