January 15, 2019 – On January 15, the U.S. Navy exercised a contract option with Lockheed Martin Corporation to purchase one Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), completing the acquisition strategy for fiscal year 2019 as authorized and appropriated by Congress. The ship is designated “LCS 31” and will be built at Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wisconsin.
The LCS is a small surface combatant that plays a vital role in American maritime security. The ship provides the Navy the ability to rapidly counter small boats, submarines and conduct mine countermeasure operations close to the shoreline. The Navy’s 2016 Force Structure Assessment revalidated a warfighting requirement for 52 small surface combatants (LCS and Frigates). A total of 35 (LCS) ships have been procured through fiscal year 2019.
The LCS class consists of two variants, the Freedom variant and the Independence variant, designed and built by two industry teams. The Freedom variant team is led by Lockheed Martin and the Independence variant is led by Austal USA.
The US Navy had previously indicated that the program would transform into the new frigate program starting at hull 31 or 40 and it is unknown as yet if this indicates the Freedom Class will or will not morph into a frigate design.