Nearly 2,000 San Diego residents and tourists stood in line in order to make their way on board the littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS 2) while the vessel was moored at the B Street Pier in downtown San Diego, Feb. 12-13.
The community outreach event, sponsored by Commander, Naval Surface Force U.S. Pacific Fleet, focused on public tours designed to let visitors see firsthand the unique capabilities of the Navy’s littoral combat ship program.
With a crew of only 40 Sailors, Independence is the first ship of the Independence variant of the LCS class of ships. The ship’s unique trimaran hull and distinctive silhouette make it look much different than older Navy frigates, destroyers and cruisers.
“The littoral combat ship is a new concept for the Navy and is designed to do things that traditional warships cannot do like operate in shallow water,” said Cmdr. Dave Back, Independence’s commanding officer. “Another difference in concept is that the ship is designed to use much smaller amounts of manpower than an average ship.”
Back spoke to the media and visitors about the water jet propulsion system which allows for easier maneuverability as well as the multi-mission capabilities of the ship including surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare and mine warfare.
“The ship has done general public visiting in the past, but it’s been a few years and never here in San Diego,” said Back. “The last time we did it was in Newport, R.I. in 2011, and we welcome the opportunity to have the public on board.”
LCS vessels were designed to be high-speed, shallow draft multi-mission ships capable of operating independently or with an associated strike group. They are designed to defeat growing littoral threats and provide access and dominance in coastal waters.
A fast, maneuverable, and networked surface combatant, LCS provides the required warfighting capabilities and operational flexibility to execute focused missions such as surface warfare, mine warfare and anti-submarine warfare.
LCS delivers combat capability from core self-defense systems in concert with interchangeable, modular mission packages and an open architecture command and control system. Modularity maximizes the flexibility of LCS and enables the ship to meet changing warfare needs, while also supporting rapid technological updates. LCS employs advanced tactical networks to share information with aircraft, ships, submarines, joint and coalition units both at sea and shore.
The second ship of the Independence-class variant, USS Coronado (LCS 4), is set to be commissioned in April following the ship’s arrival to San Diego in March.
Providing warships ready for combat, developing Sailors, and training crews to fight and win are the subjects of Vice Adm. Thomas H. Copeman III, commander of Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet’s “Vision for the 2026 Surface Fleet” which consolidates a set of objectives and policies to maximize surface force readiness by concentrating on warfighting ability, sustainable excellence and wholeness over time.
Press Release, February 17, 2014; Image: US Navy