The Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship will see its main diesel engine replaced and looks set to be kept in service after having been earmarked for early retirement.
The US Navy’s Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) USS Wichita (LCS13) appears to have been saved from the chopping block as it prepares to undergo a main engine replacement just four years after being commissioned into service, having previously been recommended for removal from the active fleet.
In an 11 August contract announcement from the US Department of Defense, Lockheed Martin Rotary and Missions Systems was awarded a not-to-exceed $8.9m modification to a previously awarded contract to support the main propulsion diesel engine replacement of the USS Wichita. Work will be performed in Mayport, Florida, and is expected to be completed by December 2023. The 2022 action plan by the US Navy proposed USS Wichita to be one of nine Freedom-class LCS’ to be decommissioned in 2023, alongside USS Forth Worth, USS Milwaukee, USS Detroit, USS Little Rock, USS Sioux City, USS Billings, USS Indianapolis and USS St Louis. Based out of Naval Station Mayport, USS Wichita is assigned to Naval Surface Force Atlantic (SURFLANT).
The report was written by the office of US Navy Admiral Mike Gilday, who on 14 August relinquished the office of Chief of Naval Operations, with current Vice-Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Lisa Franchetti taking up the helm.
In July this year the passage of the US National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2024 saw the prevention of what the House Armed Service Committee called the “Biden administration’s effort to reduce the size of the navy”. The 2024 NDAA committed to funding of $146m for LCS in-service modernisation, a reduction of some $25m from the original FY 2024 request. An earlier June House Funding Bill specifically precluded the ability for the US Navy to use any funds provided for the purposes of “decommissioning any Littoral Combat Ship.”
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