Pirates, quiver in your skiffs. Put down your rocket launchers and run. The USS Freedom has just landed. Or launched. Whatever, just be afraid.
The high-seas bandits' advantage had long been in their nimbleness in a huge ocean. Now, however, the United States Navy is touting the USS Freedom, the lead mothership in its class of Littoral Combat Ships (LCS, and littoral means coastal).
Specifically designed for the "Global War on Terrorism," the 378-foot craft aims at pirates and oh so much more. According to a fact sheet, Freedom can also defy "asymmetric 'anti-access threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface crafts." So seafaring villains thinking of trading in the crafts for submersible diesels, forget about it.
The rip-roaring Freedom has been called the Navy's corvette, but it runs on Rolls-Royce MT turbines, as pictured here. Other Freedom factoids:
45 knots (52 mph)
Staffs smaller crews (Blue and Gold crews, 40 members each)
Has a helicopter launch pad
Feels like a submarine.
Can discharge manned or unmanned boats attached to its sides. Yeah, kind of like Transformers...but not really.
Packs Raytheon RAM missiles, guns, and decoy launching systems
Its success isn't just the boat itself, but a faster shipbuilding process (by about half) and lower materials cost. That may have helped stave off 300 planned or considered layoffs for Marinette Marine: The shipyard that built Freedom received a contract for a second LCS ship.
When it's not cruising around Somalia or any other dangerous waters, USS Freedom will be hanging in San Diego. So beware, beach bums... Dude, don't even think about boarding without an invite.
by Vera H-C Chan