Wednesday, May 2, 2012
The “USS Independence” is the first in a new class of ship the Navy hopes will meet the security threats of the future.
A strange new vessel sailed into San Diego Bay today. The USS Independence is the first in a new class of ship designed by Austal and General Dynamics that the Navy hopes will meet the security threats of the future.
The Independence is a “littoral combat ship,” or LCS, designed to operate nimbly in shallow coastal waters.
CDR Jason Salata of the Navy’s Third Fleet in San Diego said its open architecture allows it to plug in equipment for different missions.
"We can take the mine countermeasure module out," he said, "plug in the new anti- submarine warfare mission module, and the ship can completely transform in a couple of days."
"In the future, there are threats that we don’t even know yet and we may be able to design models that go after those threats, and incorporate them into the open architecture “
The Independence cost hundreds of millions of dollars to develop. She joins a different design of LCS, the “USS Freedom,“ designed by Lockheed Martin, which has been plagued with problems since it arrived in San Diego two years ago.
Problems with the design of both models remain to be solved. Their small size means some weapons systems may be a tight fit. Premature corrosion has been an issue. The aluminum hull may be vulnerable to fire.
The General Accounting Office is investigating major cost overruns in the development of the vessels, which were originally estimated to cost about $200 million each and have now surpassed $700 million.
The Navy plans to eventually home port more than a dozen littoral combat ships in San Diego Bay.