USS Manchester LCS14
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USS Manchester LCS14
USS Manchester LCS14
USS Manchester LCS14 USS Manchester LCS14
Austal launches USS Manchester (LCS 14) at Alabama shipyard

2016-05-12
MOBILE, Alabama – Austal USA launched the future USS Manchester – an advanced,...
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USS Manchester LCS14
 
Littoral Warfare

Origins

The US Navy realized the need to have a fleet of fast and agile vessels capable of operating in confined waters against enemy fast attack boats and diesel submarines after their long deployments in the Persian Gulf. Their fleet of large destroyers had their limitations and they had to ferry their coast guard vessels, patrol boats and minesweepers to the Persian Gulf in order to provide close protection from small enemy craft. However the bombing of the destroyer, USS Cole by a small boat filled with explosives, accelerated the development of the Littoral Combat Ship. The logic was, a slow destroyer needed time to power up and couldn’t maneuver in confined waters, whereas a fast LCS could start up and reach top speed very quickly and put itself out of danger.

Objectives

The LCS program aimed to develop a multi role ship which could operate in littoral waters, engage enemy submarines, clear mines, destroy fast attack boats, deploy unmanned vehicles and perform a variety of other missions by fitting them with mission modules according to situational requirements. It would also have a pumpjet propulsion which gives them a very high speed in excess of 40 knots. The US Navy will replace its remaining fleet of Perry class frigates and Avenger class minesweepers with this ship. Although this program has faced immense criticism, it is something which is suited only for the US Navy as they have the world’s largest fleet of destroyers and cruisers and they need a lower end and lightly armed ship to complement them.

Weapons and Sensors

There are two classes of LCS which have been ordered by the US Navy. The Independence class and the Freedom class. Both these ships have excellent designs and the Independence class is unique with its highly stable trimaran design and is the first operational warship of this kind. Both these classes of ships have been built with one main task in mind, the destruction of enemy speedboats and fast attack craft in a hostile littoral environment. These ships use a lot of ultra-high technology and are among the most advanced warships in the world. The unique mission modules are of 3 types and typically use these weapons.

    Anti-surface : 2 x 30 mm Bushmaster cannons, Vertically launched Griffin/Hellfire missiles to engage small boats
    Anti-Submarine : 2 triple 324 mm torpedo tubes for lightweight torpedoes, Unmanned underwater vehicles, Towed array sonar
    Mine hunting : Remote mine detection vehicles, Mine detection Sonar

Weapons and sensors on Independence class
Mission module space on Freedom class © Seaforces.org
Surface Warfare package on Freedom class

Along with these modules, a 57 mm Bofors gun and a multirole helicopter are fixed for every mission. The sensors on these ships are also advanced and suited for littoral warfare. They have a sonar, a 3D multifunction radar and other advanced sensors. A very high degree of automation in the ships allows them to have a very small crew of around 50 whereas similar ships operated by other countries have a crew of 100-150. 

USS Manchester LCS14
USS Manchester LCS14
USS Manchester LCS14
USS Manchester LCS14

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