Sunday, December 14, 2008

Haze Gray

USS Freedom
The first Littoral Combat Ship, the USS Freedom, has been making port calls as she transits from her construction yard in Wisconsin to Norfolk, where she will be doing testing for a few months.  Jane's firm was the lead naval architect for this class, and Jane did quite a lot of work on the design.  Time was set aside during the port call in Annapolis for employees and their guests, and Jane was kind enough to offer me a chance to take a tour.

It is an interesting ship.  Actually, the things I find most interesting about her, the propulsion system, was not on the tour.  But she has enormous gas turbines, along with diesels, all geared into waterjets.  Our guide, one of the lieutenants, quoted a speed of 47 knots.  That's amazing for a ship this size - really any size combatant.  And I'm not aware of any US Navy ships anywhere near this size with waterjet propulsors.

We may not have seen the engine room, but we did see the multi-mission reconfigurable or "recon" spaces.  This is where special modules, basically shipping containers filled with special combat systems, will be loaded so they can quickly equip the vessel to perform different missions.  It is weird to see such large, empty spaces on a combatant ship.  And the spaces have very large hatches, to move the equipment in and out quickly.  The recon spaces have 4 huge hatches - one in the stern, one in the side, one up to the hangar, and one up to the flight deck.  And the three spaces are connected by two more huge watertight hatches between them.  I've never seen so many openings, in such large spaces, on a fighting vessel.

Their were plenty of other whiz-bang details: the bridge is normally manned by 2 or 3 people (vice the 8 you might normally see on a Navy ship), the crew is only 75 people (for a 377 foot ship), she made a turn at 46 knots without spilling the coffee someone set on deck, and so on.  There are still some questions about this ship, how to use it and how effective it will be, but it is very impressive.


Brian Breguet said...

This ship sounds really cool. What are you working on lately?

the Contemptuous Barnacle said...

Thy water thrusters will not propel thy vessel faster than THE CONTEMPTUOUS BARNACLE!!! Tremble in fear all ye bastards of maritime technology!