The other half of the US Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program, the development of the Freedom-class warship, has struggled with many faults—a mess, if you will, that the service had to keep allocating funds just to salvage each millions-worth of these vessels.

Looking for a robust yet light frigate suitable to conduct littoral missions, the Navy awarded a split contract between the two American defense contractor giants to build dozens of these ships beginning in the early 2000s.

Lockheed Martin kickstarted their part of the program by producing the first LCS ship, the USS Freedom (LCS-1), and all the succeeding odd hull numbers. At the same time, General Dynamics constructed USS Independence (LCS-2) and all subsequent even hull numbers—which eventually became the lead ship of its respective class.

The Odd-Numbered Hulls

Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics initially competed for the LCS program contract, only for the Navy to grant both, making the program a two-variant class of warships.

Each bears unique styles, with Independence sporting a peculiar aluminum trimaran design, while Freedom stuck with the conventional steel monohull. Its contractors designed these small surface vessels for maritime operations in coastal waters or near-shore missions.

In general, the LCS is designed to be modular, with interchangeable mission packages that allow the ship to be quickly reconfigured for different missions, such as anti-submarine warfare, mine countermeasures, or surface warfare. A relatively small vessel comes with a relatively small core crew, with just over 50 sailors. This, however, can accommodate additional personnel for specific missions.

Lockheed laid the keel of the first ship in the class, the USS Freedom (LCS-1), in 2005, through its subsidiary manufacturer Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wisconsin.

Like the first two ships in its twin-class variant, the USS Freedom (LCS-1) development also faced rough seas. It went through technical challenges, exceeding its initial budget, consequently attracting criticism from the Navy and Congress.