The Lockheed Martin-led industry team officially laid the keel for the U.S. Navy’s eleventh Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the future USS Sioux City, in a ceremony held at Marinette Marine Corporation.
The industry team is building Freedom-class LCSs for the U.S. Navy, and has delivered two ships with five others under construction and one soon to begin construction. The nation’s first LCS, USS Freedom, completed her deployment to Southeast Asia, during which she participated in multiple international maritime exercises, conducted patrols in the South China Sea and provided disaster relief for Operation Damayan.
As USS Freedom proved, the ship class is addressing the Navy’s need for an affordable, highly-networked and modular ship unlike any other in the world. The platform is designed and outfitted with mission systems to conduct a variety of missions including anti-surface, mine and submarine warfare. The next LCS to deploy will be the Freedom-class USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) in 2014.
“We are proud to provide our Sailors with a proven warship that allows them to carry out their missions around the world,” said Dale P. Bennett, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems and Training business. “We are working in partnership with the Navy as they build a fleet able to operate forward, stand ready for any challenges, and serve our essential warfighting requirements.”
In keeping with a time-honored tradition, ship sponsor Mrs. Mary Winnefeld authenticated the keel block by having her initials welded.
“I’m both honored and delighted to be back in my home state of Wisconsin as the sponsor of the future USS Sioux City,” said Mrs. Winnefeld. “It’s been a real privilege to meet the great Americans who are building this versatile ship, and I thank them in advance for their quality work. I look forward to meeting her crew soon, being part of her family, and bringing our ship to life when she’s commissioned.”
The Lockheed Martin-led LCS team includes ship builder Marinette Marine Corporation, a Fincantieri company, naval architect Gibbs & Cox, as well as nearly 900 suppliers in 43 states, including approximately 30 small businesses in Wisconsin and Michigan.
Lay the keel is a shipbuilding term that marks the beginning of the module erection process, which is a significant undertaking that signifies the ship coming to life. Modern warships are now largely built in a series of pre-fabricated, complete hull sections rather than a single keel, so the actual start of the shipbuilding process is now considered to be when the first sheet of steel is cut and is often marked with a ceremonial event.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 115,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation’s net sales for 2013 were $45.4 billion.
Founded in 1942, Marinette Marine Corporation (MMC) is located on the Menominee River flowage into Green Bay. The largest shipyard in Wisconsin and the Midwest, MMC has delivered more than 1,300 vessels. In 2008, MMC along with several sister shipyards also based in the Great Lakes region, became part of FINCANTIERI SpA, the largest shipbuilder in the western Hemisphere and the fourth largest in the world.
Gibbs & Cox, the nation’s leading independent maritime solutions firm specializing in naval architecture, marine engineering and design, is headquartered in Arlington, Va. The company, founded in 1929, has provided designs for nearly 80 percent of the current U.S. Navy surface combatant fleet; approaching 7,000 naval and commercial ships have been built to Gibbs & Cox designs.