The Lockheed Martin Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) team recently demonstrated the operation of the innovative stern ramp and side doors on Freedom, the nation’s first littoral combat ship. These doors are key elements to the ships launch and recovery systems.The littoral, or close-to-shore operations, of the Navy will be assisted by the agile 377-foot Freedom. The ships design was optimized for the launch and recovery of a variety of manned and unmanned watercraft designed to undertake multiple mission types including surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, minehunting, and special operations. The ship can also conduct humanitarian aid missions as well. <The stern ramp on the Freedom can launch and recover large hard-bottomed vehicles like 11-meter rigid hull inflatable boats or the special operations forces high speed boat while the ship is underway. Freedom is powered by fixed and steerable Rolls-Royce water jets for superior maneuverability.Freedom also has a side door that provides a second launch and recovery point for smaller watercraft and can be used for replenishing ship stores and refueling at sea. Both access points to the interior of the ship are serviced by an overhead crane that extends overboard and can lift any vehicle designed to be carries by Freedom. Freedom is currently still under construction at Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wisconsin, and is scheduled for completion and delivery in 2008.