US Navy Christens Final Independence Littoral Combat Ship

The US Navy has christened the final Independence-class littoral combat ship, the USS Pierre (LCS 38) in Mobile, Alabama.

It is the second naval vessel named after South Dakota’s capital city, which according to Independence fleet developer Austal, has a long history of cooperation with America’s naval forces and marine corps.

The first Pierre ship was a submarine chaser that sailed during World War II and was retired in the late 1950s.

Under the US Department of Defense’s LCS program, the new USS Pierre became the 19th Independence vessel and the 38th built for the initiative.

Alongside the Independence fleet development, the navy is engaged with defense industry partner General Dynamics to construct the Freedom-class vessels, another LCS variant.

Taking on ‘Pivotal Role’

The Alabama ceremony was attended by ship sponsor Larissa Thune Hargens, a South Dakota native who graduated from Minnesota’s Bethel University.

She is the daughter of South Dakota Senator John Thune and granddaughter of Harold Thune, a Flying Cross recipient for achievements as a naval fighter pilot during World War II.

Other participants included Austal USA’s new president Michelle Kruger, Pierre City Mayor Steve Harding, and General Dynamics Mission Systems Program Execution VP Stan Kordana.

The littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS 2) demonstrates its maneuvering capabilities in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel M. Young/Released)
The littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS 2). Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel M. Young/US Navy

“Built by an industry team led by Austal USA, the Littoral Combat Ship stands as a testament to our unwavering commitment to innovation and excellence in naval shipbuilding,” US Navy Unmanned and Small Combatants Program Officer Read Admr. Kevin Smith stated during the event. 

“As we christen the USS Pierre, we also celebrate the extraordinary crews that will sail this ship, employing the capabilities and versatility of the Littoral Combat Ship class, which will continue to play a pivotal role in safeguarding our nation’s interests now and for years to come.”

US Navy LCS Program

The Pentagon launched the LCS program in the early 2000s to expand its assets that can address threats across open-ocean and near-shore theaters.

An LCS vessel measures 388 to 419 feet (118 to 128 meters) depending on its variant. It is powered by a combined diesel and gas turbine engine for speeds greater than 40 knots (74 kilometers/46 miles per hour) and a maximum range of 3,500 nautical miles (4,039 miles/6,500 kilometers).

Each ship can accommodate up to 75 sailors, helicopters, fighting vehicles, equipment cargos, as well as a variety of weapons from decoy launching systems, machine guns, and missiles. 

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