Three littoral combat ships in formation
The Independence variant littoral combat ships USS Independence (left) USS Manchester and USS Tulsa underway in the eastern Pacific earlier this week. Navy photo

In what has become almost a weekly occurrence, the Navy will commission its newest Independence-variant littoral combat ship bound for San Diego on Saturday in South Carolina.

The future USS Charleston, designated LCS 18, will be commissioned during a 10 a.m. ceremony in its historic namesake port city. South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott will deliver the principal address, and Charlotte Riley, wife of former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, will give the order to “man our ship and bring her to life!”

“The future USS Charleston is proof of what the teamwork of all of our people — civilian, contractor and military — can accomplish together,” said Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer. “This ship will extend the maneuverability and lethality of our fleet to confront the many challenges of a complex world, from maintaining the sea lanes to countering instability to maintaining our edge against renewed great power competition.”

The Navy is building 40 of the fast, agile ships in two variants. The trimaran Independence versions are being built by Austal USA in Alabama and based in San Diego. The monohull Freedom versions are built by Lockheed Martin in Wisconsin and based on the East Coast.

On Feb. 16, the Navy commissioned LCS 16, the USS Tulsa, in San Francisco, and construction of LCS 30, the future USS Canberra began last week.

The ships are designed to fight in near-shore environments yet are capable of open-ocean operation. They are designed to defeat asymmetric “anti-access” threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.