October 22, 2009

I Feel The Need For Speed! Littorally!

USS Independence.jpg

How coo-el is this?

BATH, Maine The Navy's need for speed is being answered by a pair of warships that have reached freeway speeds during testing at sea.

Independence, a 418-foot warship built in Alabama, boasts a top speed in excess of 45 knots, or about 52 mph, and sustained 44 knots for four hours during builder trials that wrapped up this month off the Gulf Coast. The 378-foot Freedom, a ship built in Wisconsin by a competing defense contractor, has put up similar numbers.

Both versions of the Littoral Combat Ship use powerful diesel engines, as well as gas turbines for extra speed. They use steerable waterjets instead of propellers and rudders and have shallower drafts than conventional warships, letting them zoom close to shore.

The ships, better able to chase down pirates, have been fast-tracked because the Navy wants vessels that can operate in coastal, or littoral, waters. Freedom is due to be deployed next year, two years ahead of schedule.

Independence is an aluminum, tri-hulled warship built by Austal USA in Mobile, Ala. The lead contractor is Maine's Bath Iron Works, a subsidiary of General Dynamics.


By the way, I love the word "littoral" and have long felt it isn't used enough in ordinary conversation. As a noun, it's essentially the beach or rocks up to the high water mark: the one-foot-on-shore-one-foot-in-sea nebulousness of it has always appealed to me. (I'm not quite sure that one can speak of "littoral waters" but I recognize that the definition is as fuzzy as everything else about the word and am willing to let it go. Ain't I a reasonable guy?)

Posted by Robert at October 22, 2009 10:28 AM | TrackBack

Ahem. Go Marinette Marine. It was a year ago today the Freedom arrived in Milwaukee for a week of fun, followed by her commissioning service.

Marinette Marine started work last July on the Navy's *third* LCS, the USS Fort Worth, due to be finished in 2012.

East coast shipbuilders may have been around longer, but us Great Lakes builders are a canny bunch; we learned fast.

Posted by: Diane at November 1, 2009 06:18 AM
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