YouTube - General Dynamics - Independence Littoral Combat Ship 2 (LCS 2)



The U.S. Navy's sleek new warship turned heads this week with its futuristic appearance as it sailed into Key West on its maiden voyage.

As Commander Curt Renshaw told a tour group Monday, the 419-foot USS Independence looks like ``an ocean-going death star from Star Wars.''

The ship is the Navy's second littoral combat ship, a vessel designed for speed, versatility and maneuverability in coastal waters too shallow for traditional military ships.

It's a true testament to 21st century technology,'' Renshaw said.
A total of 55 of the ships will be built to carry interchangeable ``plug-and-fight'' modules for missions that include anti-submarine warfare and mine-hunting. The new ships, approved by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, were part of his plan to remake the military into a lighter and more mobile force.

Despite its size, the USS Independence can sail at speeds around 45 knots (52 mph) in 20-foot-deep water. ``That opens up a lot of the world to do various missions,'' Renshaw said.

The ship was built in Mobile, Ala., by an Australian company under contract to Virginia-based General Dynamics.

Key West was the first port stop for the USS Independence, which is on its way to Norfolk, Va., for more testing and evaluation. The ship is so automated that it requires a crew of only 40 core sailors to operate compared to more than 200 for traditional Navy warships.

Renshaw said at first it was strange to walk on the bridge, with its space-age features.

Instead of a helm and . . . chart table there was a console with high-back chairs with joy sticks and computer screens,'' he said.

The ship can carry a wide range of manned and unmanned weapons, as well as helicopters and Humvees to combat threats from coastal mines, submarines and small boats with explosives or terrorists.