Independence, a 418-foot warship built in Alabama, boasts a top speed in excess of 45 knots, or about 52 mph, and sustained 44 knots for four hours during builder trials that wrapped up this month off the Gulf Coast. The 378-foot Freedom, a ship built in Wisconsin by a competing defense contractor, has put up similar numbers.
Both versions of the Littoral Combat Ship use powerful diesel engines, as well as gas turbines for extra speed. They use steerable waterjets instead of propellers and rudders and have shallower drafts than conventional warships, letting them zoom close to shore.
The ships, better able to chase down pirates, have been fast-tracked because the Navy wants vessels that can operate in coastal, or littoral, waters. Freedom is due to be deployed next year, two years ahead of schedule.
Picture at the links: all in all, very interesting. Although it still seems slightly weird to contemplate that the need for anti-piracy operations have only increased in the last few decades…