Littoral combat ship USS St. Louis joins US Navy fleet

The US Navy commissioned USS St. Louis (LCS 19), its newest Independence-variant littoral combat ship, on August 8.

USS St. Louis
Photo: US Navy

Due to public health safety concerns and restrictions of large public gatherings related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the navy commissioned St. Louis at a private event.

“Nearly 200 years after the first ship to bear the name was launched, today we commission the seventh USS St. Louis,” Secretary of the Navy Kenneth J. Braithwaite said on Saturday.

“Much like that sloop of war did in 1828, LCS-19 and her crew will protect the U.S. and our interests near and abroad. Whether conducting counter-narcotic operations in the Caribbean or working to enhance interoperability with partners and allies at sea, USS St. Louis will provide maneuverability, stability and lethality in today’s era of Great Power Competition.”

Rear Adm. Brad Cooper II, commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic, welcomed the ship that brings capabilities to counter diesel submarine, mines, and fast surface craft threats to the world’s premier surface force.

St. Louis is the 22nd LCS to be delivered to the US Navy, and the tenth of the Freedom-variant to join the fleet and is the seventh ship to bear the name. The first St. Louis, a sloop of war, was launched in 1828. It spent the majority of its service patrolling the coasts of the Americas to secure interests and trade. In addition, it served as the flagship for the West Indies Squadron working to suppress piracy in the Caribbean Sea, the Antilles and the Gulf of Mexico region.

In February this year, the USS St. Louis was delivered to the navy in a ceremony held at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard.

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The littoral combat ship is a fast, agile and networked surface combatant, and the primary mission for the LCS includes countering diesel submarine threats, littoral mine threats and surface threats to assure maritime access for joint forces. The underlying strength of the LCS is said to lie in its innovative design approach, applying modularity for operational flexibility. Fundamental to this approach is the capability to rapidly install interchangeable mission packages (MPs) onto the seaframe to fulfill a specific mission and then be uninstalled, maintained and upgraded at the Mission Package Support Facility (MPSF) for future use aboard any LCS seaframe.

LCS may also pair with the MH-60R advanced maritime helicopter giving it a robust anti-submarine mission capability that is fully interoperable with the U.S. Navy and its coalition partners. Primary missions of the MH-60R include anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, surveillance, communications relay, combat search and rescue, naval gunfire support and logistics support.