Lockheed: Littoral ships built to be flexible

Tuesday - 1/4/2011, 10:40am EST

Paul Lemmo, vice president of Business Development, Mission Systems and Sensors business, Lockheed Martin

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By Vyomika Jairam
Federal News Radio

It's been a long time coming, but the Navy has awarded two contracts for production volumes of its new Littoral Combat Ship.
http://www.defense.gov/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=14172" target="_blank">Lockheed Martin and Austal USA will each build half of the initial order of 20 ships.

"This is the Navy's newest class of warship, and it's designed for waters close to shore, also known as littoral waters, and that's where it gets it's name," said Paul Lemmo, Vice President of Business Development of Lockheed's Mission Systems and Sensors business. "The littoral waters are difficult to access for some of the larger Navy vessels because they have a deep draft."

But there are a variety of threats in the littoral zone, and so the LCS was created to be flexible and accommodate multiple missions as opposed to having built-in combat capabilities, Lemmo said.

"It is a ship that has a lot of open space, and it has what we call an 'Open Architecture Mission System' that allows the Navy to plug-and-play different types of combat capabilities depending upon what they need," Lemmo said.

The LCS will be used primarily for three missions:

  • Anti-submarine warfare
  • Anti-surface warfare
  • Mine warfare: the detection and elimination of mines in warefare
The ship may also be used anti-piracy and humanitarian missions, Lemmo said. The LCS is likely to live out its 20-year lifecycle, Lemmo believes, because without built-in combat technologies, the ship won't become obsolete quickly.

Lockheed and Austal both submitted bids for 10 ships to the Navy, and are separately building them. While the two companies are building the ships from a single set of requirements, the two products are different in design and construction, Lemmo explained.

"They are two different ships," Lemmo said. "Our design is a Semi-Planing Mono-Haul. It looks a little bit more like a traditional Naval warship, but it rides like a speedboat."

The LCS contract is a series of awards, the first one having just been awarded, and the last contract to be awarded in 2015. Lemmo said that Lockheed plans to build its final ship in time for a 2018 delivery, and also hopes that as the Navy sees the capability of the ships, that the order may increase.

"I think this will be a great utility ship for the Navy, and one that we think we'll build a lot of," Lemmo said.