Lockheed Martin lays keel for 17th LCS USS Indianapolis

A welder authenticates the keel of LCS 17, the future USS Indianapolis, by welding the initials of ship sponsor Jill Donnelly. Photo: Lockheed Martin

A shipbuilding team led by Lockheed Martin has officially laid the keel for the U.S. Navy’s 17th Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the future USS Indianapolis, in a ceremony held at Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wisconsin.

Ship sponsor Jill Donnelly, the wife of U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly, authenticated the keel by welding her initials onto a steel plate that will be placed in the hull of the ship.

The Lockheed Martin team is currently in full-rate production of the Freedom-variant of the LCS, and has delivered three ships to the U.S. Navy to date. The future USS Indianapolis is one of seven ships in various stages of construction at Fincantieri Marinette Marine, with three more in long-lead production.

The Freedom-variant is one of two littoral combat ship designs that are entering service with the U.S. Navy. Australian-based shipbuilder Austal is building the trimaran-shaped Indenpedence variant ships in Mobile, Alabama.

LCS 17 will be the fourth ship to bear the name USS Indianapolis. A previous Indianapolis (CA 35) is best known for its role in World War II, where it operated throughout the Pacific escorting convoys and attacking enemy submarines. Indianapolis’ service ended when it was sunk by a Japanese torpedo on July 30, 1945. Only 317 of the 1,196 sailors serving aboard the ship survived after five days afloat in the Pacific Ocean. Richard Thelen, a USS Indianapolis (CA-35) survivor, attended the keel laying ceremony as a representative of all who sailed on CA-35.

The Lockheed Martin-led LCS team is comprised of shipbuilder Fincantieri Marinette Marine, naval architect Gibbs & Cox, and more than 500 suppliers in 37 states. The Freedom-variant has a steel monohull design which, as Lockheed Martin says, has a hull with 40 percent reconfigurable shipboard space making it “ideally suited to accommodate additional lethality and survivability upgrades” associated with the Freedom-class Frigate.

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