US Navy, Lockheed Martin Hold Keel Laying Ceremony for Future USS Little Rock

The Navy and Lockheed Martin, with Marinette Marine Corp., held a keel-laying ceremony for the future USS Little Rock, the Navy’s ninth littoral combat ship (LCS), June 27, in Marinette, Wis.

The keel-laying ceremony recognizes the first joining together of a ship’s components. While modern shipbuilding processes allow fabrication of individual modules to begin months earlier, keel laying represents the formal beginning of a ship.

Ship sponsor Janee Bonner, wife of U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, authenticated the keel by having her initials welded into a sheet of the ship’s hull.

LCS is a high-speed, agile, shallow draft, mission-focused surface warship designed for operations in the littoral, or coastal, environment (within 300 nautical miles of land), yet fully capable of open ocean operations.

Little Rock is one of four Freedom-variant LCS currently under construction at Marinette Marine. The ship is expected to deliver to the fleet in 2017.

“This ship exemplifies our commitment to stable, serial production of this valuable ship class,” said Cmdr. Nate Schneider, LCS program management representative, Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Bath, Detachment Marinette.

Schneider also noted the shipyard’s tremendous investment in facilities and acknowledged the talented, skilled and dedicated workforce that is enabling continued delivery of high quality ships to the fleet.

LCS 9 is the second ship to be named after the city of Little Rock, Ark. The first USS Little Rock was a Cleveland-class light cruiser commissioned in 1945 that, until her decommissioning in 1976, served primarily in the Mediterranean following her conversion to a guided missile cruiser in the late 1950s. She is now a museum ship in Buffalo, New York.

The Navy is committed to the LCS program and is leveraging competition, fixed-price contracting and ongoing production to reduce construction time and costs. Lessons learned from the lead ships have been incorporated in the follow on ships.

“It is an exciting time in the program, as the shipyards hit their stride in serial production of LCS,” said Capt. Tom Anderson, LCS program manager.

PEO LCS is responsible for delivering and sustaining credible littoral mission capabilities to the fleet and is working with industry to achieve steady production to increase production efficiencies and leverage cost savings. Delivering high-quality warfighting assets while balancing affordability and capability is key to supporting the nation’s maritime strategy.

Press Release, June 28, 2013