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Image of Independence  (Source: US Navy)
The U.S. Navy is working on a new ship it hopes to have deployed by the end of the year

The United States Navy is currently working on its second littoral combat ship (LCS), with military officials impressed with the ship so far, even though there is still a lot of work left to be done.

Despite Defense Secretary Robert Gates announcing the U.S. military will effectively eliminate or cut down some programs in the years to come, the U.S. Navy continues to work diligently on its second LCS.  The Navy expects Independence to be used in shallower water -- able to operate in less than 20 feet of water -- and for antisubmarine warfare, mine warfare, and surface warfare missions.

LCS 2 is $300 million over budget and one year behind schedule, but the project is too important for the government to try and axe the project now.

It has a maximum speed of 45 knots -- almost 52 MPH -- and is designed to be "nimble and fast," with a 11,000 square foot flight deck that is able to support a CH-53 heavy-lift helicopter.  

The 2,790-ton warship is designed to carry a crew of 40 Navy personnel.  Thirty four Humvees or a battalion of Marines can be transported inside of the ships.    

The ship still isn't complete yet, and shipyard workers are working to finish the inside of the LCS 2.

Officers and chiefs will stay in two-person staterooms that have private bathrooms, and enlisted personnel will stay in four-person rooms with a private bathroom.  Rooms for the enlisted men can be expanded to support a larger crew if necessary, Navy officials said.

"That flight deck is just a beast," Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead said after touring the ship.  "I was really pleased with the open architecture approach that's being taken on LCS 2.  That ship continues to amaze me, with regard to the amount of space."

If all goes according to plan, the Navy hopes to have Independence ready for sea trials in June and have the ship commissioned before the end of 2009.





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