Say hello to the future of littoral combat: the USS 'Independence' LCS in perspective


Senior Member
Feb 23, 2009
The following was sent to me as an email by a Claver Pereira, who in turn received it as a forward from an anonymous source. All text and images are the sole property of the author.



There have been rumors about the U.S. Navy's speedy new triple hulled ships, but now they're for real.

The U.S.S Independence was built by General Dynamics. It's called a "littoral combat ship" (LCS), and the tri-maran can move its weapons around faster than any other ship in the Navy.

Littoral implies close to the shore, and that's where these very ships will operate. They're tailor-made for launching helicopters and armored vehicles, sweeping mines and firing all manner of torpedoes, missiles and machine guns.

These ships are also relatively inexpensive. This one's a bargain at $208 million, and the Navy plans to build 55 of them.

The tri-maran is the first of a new fire breathing breed, ready to scoot out of dry dock at a rumored 60 knots... It's like a speedy and heavily armed aircraft carrier for helicopters.

Pirates Beware!!!

WOW! A couple of these should be able to clean up the pirates off the coast of Africa....

This is the U.S.S. Independence (LCS-2)
It is a Triple Hulled, Weapon-Laden Monster.

Here it is under construction...



Senior Member
Feb 23, 2009
Here are some recent photos of the LCS 2 (to be USS) Independence. She's at 43 knots here running at half
power. NOTE the absence of a bow wave.

Turns tightly, also; allegedly this also was done at 43 knots...and from the look of
he small bow wave, she's still in the turn.

And then we have the massive helo deck big enough for a CH-53. Last time I talked with the SURFPAC
guys years ago. THIS was the LCS they liked because of the huge storage capacity under that flight deck
and the size of the flight deck.

Note that there is very little spreading wake. In fact, it does not look like a wake at all,
just foamy water from the water jets. Somehow, at 40 knots, you'd think there'd be more wake

But she has one drawback, she's strange looking but aerodynamically designed.
Is this beginning of a new design in ships?

The ship was commissioned on 16 January 2010, and is due to serve in the Gulf of Aden
and the piracy-infested regions off the coast of Africa.


A brief history from Wikipedia:


The design for Independence (LCS 2) is based on a proven high-speed trimaran (Benchijigua Express) hull built by Austal (Henderson, Australia). The 127-meter surface combatant design calls for a crew of 40 sailors, while the trimaran hull should enable the ship to reach sustainable speeds of nearly 50 knots (60 mph; 90 km/h) and range as far as 10,000 nautical miles (19,000 km).

With 11,000 cubic meters of payload volume the ship is designed with enough objective payload and volume to carry out one mission while a separate mission module is in reserve. The large flight deck, 1,030 m2 (11,100 sq ft), will support operation of two SH-60 Seahawk helicopters, multiple UAVs, or one large CH-53 Sea Stallion class helicopter (which is larger than a V-22 transport). The stable trimaran hull will allow flight operations up to sea state 5.

Fixed core capabilities will be carried for self-defense and command and control. However unlike traditional fighting ships with fixed armament such as guns and missiles, innovative and tailored mission modules will be configured for one mission package at a time. Modules may consist of manned aircraft, unmanned vehicles, off-board sensors, or mission-manning detachments - all in an expandable open systems architecture.

The large interior volume and payload is greater than larger destroyers and is sufficient to serve as a high-speed transport and maneuver platform. The mission bay is 11,800 square feet (1,100 m2), and takes up most of the deck below the hangar and flight deck.

In addition to cargo or container-sized mission modules, the bay can carry four lanes of multiple Strykers, armored Humvees, and their associated troops. An elevator allows air transport of packages the size of a twenty-foot long shipping container that can be moved into the mission bay while at sea. A side access ramp allows for vehicle roll-on/roll-off loading to a dock and allows the ship to even transport the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.

The habitability area is under the bridge with bunks for many personnel. The helm is controlled by joysticks instead of traditional steering wheels.

The Independence also has an integrated LOS Mast, Sea Giraffe 3D Radar and SeaStar Safire FLIR. Side and forward surfaces are angled for reduced radar profile. In addition, H-60 series helicopters provide airlift, rescue, anti-submarine, radar picket and anti-ship capabilities with torpedoes and missiles.

The Raytheon Evolved SeaRAM missile defense system is installed on the hangar roof. The SeaRAM combines the sensors of the Phalanx 1B close-in weapon system with an 11-missile launcher for the Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM), creating an autonomous system.

To reduce the risk of fire on the all aluminum ship, many parts are protected from fire, and smoking is not permitted on board.

Northrop Grumman has demonstrated sensor fusion of on and off-board systems in the Integrated Combat Management System (ICMS) used on Independence.

USS Independence (LCS-2) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Senior Member
Feb 23, 2009
venkat said:
path breaking !!

My take: It's kinda ironic that, despite all the technological advancements and achievements in naval ship-building and surface-warfare ships, the LCS is reminiscent of the Merrimac ironclad from old Civil War days.

But, is this the start of a revolution in littoral combat ship building? I'm inclined to think so.

The faceted nature of the ship also seems to make it clear that this is some kind of stealth design, intended to deflect radar for a smaller return on enemy radar. The ship seems to have limited surface-to-surface offensive and CISW capabilities, but that may be a function of the specific mission parameters littoral classes will be operating under.


On another note, I managed to get a hold of a few specs from the

Propulsion system: 2 Gas Turbines, 2 Diesel Engines,
4 Steerable Waterjets, 1 Steerable Thruster
Length, overall: 127.1 meters
Beam: 30.4 meters
Draft: 4.5 meters
Displacement: 2800 tons
Speed: 51 knots
Crew: 40 core crew members, 75 with detachments
Aviation: two MH-60R/S or one MH-60R/S and VTUAV’s
- 1 MK 31 Mod 0 RAM Launcher
- 1 MK 110 Mod 0 57mm Gun system
- 3 MK 26 Mod 17 .50 Cal Machine guns

And the following is an interesting (although dated) article on the RIM-116 MK-31 RAM Rolling Airframe Guided Missile Weapon System from GlobalSecurity:

The RAM program is designed to provide surface ships with an effective, low-cost, lightweight, self-defense system which will provide an improved capability to engage and defeat incoming antiship cruise missiles (ASCMs). RAM is a joint United States and German venture to design an effective, low cost, lightweight quick-reaction, self-defense system which will increase the survivability of otherwise undefended ships. It is a 5 inch missile that utilizes SIDEWINDER technology for the warhead and rocket motor, and the STINGER missile’s seeker. Cueing is provided by the ship’s ESM suite or radar. The MK-31 RAM Guided Missile Weapon System (GMWS) is defined as the MK-49 Guided Missile Launching System (GMLS) and the MK-44 Guided Missile Round Pack (GMRP). The launching system and missiles comprise the weapon system.

RAM is a NATO cooperative program with Germany. Memorandums of Understanding between the United States and Germany have been signed for the development and production of the RAM Block 0 as well as for the development of RAM Block I.

The RAM Block 0 weapon system consists of a 21-round missile launcher, below-deck electronics, and a guided missile round pack. The round pack consists of a 5-inch, supersonic missile and launching canister, which interfaces the missile and the launcher. The RAM Block 0 autonomous homing missile has a five-inch diameter airframe that rolls in flight and dual mode, passive radio frequency/infrared (RF/IR) guidance. Initial homing for RAM Block 0 is on the threat missile's radar signature, using an ASCM's RF seeker emissions. If the ASCM's IR radiation is acquired, RAM transitions to IR guidance.

In May 1993, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition approved RAM Block 0 for production. Subsequently, the missile has had successful intercepts in 127 of 132 production proofing and ship qualification test flights in both the US and German navies.

Since 1993, the RAM Block 0 has been installed on all five LHA ships, eight DD 963 ships, six LHD ships, and eight LSD class ships. Navy installation plans call for RAM Block 0 installations in one DD 963 class ship and on LHD 7 (currently under construction). All other planned RAM installations call for the RAM Block I configuration.

Operational Evaluation (OPEVAL) of RAM Block 0 was conducted from January to April 1990. It was assessed to be potentially operationally effective and potentially operationally suitable, but there were shortfalls in its ability to handle, under all environmental and tactical conditions, the full spectrum of threats. In April 1993, a decision was made to pursue rectification of OPEVAL deficiencies by implementing a block upgrade. RAM Block 1 is the upgraded missile.

The Block I upgrade provides the RAM missile with an increased capability to intercept cruise missiles by means of an infrared only acquisition technique. Effective against a wide spectrum of existing threats, the RAM Block 1 IR upgrade incorporates a new IR "all-the-way-homing" guidance mode to improve AW performance against evolving passive and active ASCMs. The Block 1 missile retains all capabilities of the Block 0 missile while adding two guidance modes, IR only and IR Dual Mode Enable (IRDM). The IR only mode guides on the IR signature of the ASCM. The IRDM will guide on the IR signature of the ASCM while retaining the capability of utilizing RF guidance if the ASCM RF signature becomes adequate to guide on. RAM Block I can be launched in an IR all-the-way mode, as well as the dual mode (passive RF, followed by passive IR) used by Block 0.

RAM weapon systems are integrated with the AN/SWY-2 combat system on certain ships and as part of the Ship Self Defense System (SSDS) on other ships (LSD-41 class ships). The AN/SWY-2 is comprised of the weapon system and the combat direction system. The combat direction system employs the existing Mk 23 target acquisition system (TAS) radar and the AN/SLQ-32(V) electronic warfare support sensor together with threat evaluation and weapons assignment software resident in the Mk 23 TAS to accomplish threat detection, correlation, evaluation, and engagement. With SSDS, RAM is part of the engagement suite. For example, on LSD 41-class ships, a typical SSDS engagement suite includes RAM, the PHALANX Close-In Weapon System Block 1A, and the decoy launch system. SSDS further integrates the AN/SPS-49(V)1 radar with the medium PRF upgrade, the AN/SPS-67 surface search radar, the AN/SLQ-32(V) sensor, and the CIWS search radar. RAM is installed in all five Tarawa (LHA-1)-class amphibious assault ships; LHD 1, 3, 5, and 6; DD-987, and LSD-48. Block 0 missiles and launchers are in production and on schedule, and the missile had successful intercepts in 62 of 64 production-proofing and ship qualification tests. The first fleet firing of the RAM occurred in October 1995 from the USS Peleliu (LHA-5). A successful preliminary design review of the Block 1 IR upgrade was conducted in September 1995. Flight tests of the missile are being conducted during Engineering and Manufacturing Development, prior to authorizing Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP). Milestone III was achieved in FY 1998, to be followed by IOC in FY 1999.

Based on the results of operational testing conducted aboard the U.S.S. Gunston Hall (LSD 44) in January 1999 and the Self-Defense Test Ship between March and August 1999, the Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force, declared the RAM Block I to be operationally effective against a variety of cruise missile threats and recommended fleet introduction. The Block I missile had successful intercepts in 23 of 24 development test firings. A full-rate production decision occurred in January 2000.

As of March 2000, RAM Block I has been installed on two LSD class ships and is pending installation on two LSD 41 class ships, LHD 7, and CVN 76. Navy installation plans call for Block I installations or upgrades on 8 LSD 41/49, 3 DD 963, 12 CV/CVN, 7 LHD, and 12 LPD 17 (new construction) ships between 2001 and 2006. Though not yet funded, the Navy also plans to install RAM Block I upgrades on all five LHA class ships during fiscal year 2007.

In November 1998, the United States and Germany amended the Block I development Memorandum of Understanding to include scope and funding for the development of a helicopter/aircraft/surface craft (HAS) upgrade of the RAM missile. Requiring only software changes to the RAM Block I missile, the HAS upgrade will extend RAM targets to include helicopters, aircraft, and surface ships. Navy plans indicate that all RAM installations on LSDs, LHDs, LPDs, and CV/CVNs will be the HAS configuration by 2009. Also, the Navy is developing an 11-round guided missile launcher in the HAS mode configuration for installation on CG 52 through 73 between 2004 and 2009.

According to DOT&E, the testing schedule remains on target to reach the scheduled deployment times.
RIM-116 RAM Rolling Airframe Missile

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