InSight Spacecraft

NASA’s latest mission to Mars took its first trip on its long journey to the Red Planet. On February 28, Lockheed Martin delivered NASA’s InSight Mars lander to Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The lander will now undergo final processing in preparation for a May 5 launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket.

Lockheed Martin delivered NASA’s InSight spacecraft to its California launch site on February 28, 2018. The Mars lander was shipped aboard a U.S. Air Force transport plane from Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado to Vandenberg Air Force Base where it will undergo final processing in preparation for a May launch
Lockheed Martin delivered NASA’s InSight spacecraft to its California launch site on February 28, 2018. The Mars lander was shipped aboard a U.S. Air Force transport plane from Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado to Vandenberg Air Force Base where it will undergo final processing in preparation for a May launch

The InSight lander will study the deep interior of Mars and will address one of the most fundamental questions of planetary and solar system science: how do terrestrial planets form? By mapping the basic structure of the planet, the mission will help scientists understand the processes that shaped the rocky planets of the inner solar system more than four billion years ago. Lockheed Martin designed and built the spacecraft and is responsible for testing, launch processing and spacecraft flight operations.

«InSight is an amazing spacecraft and we can’t wait to see it on the surface of Mars later this year», said Stu Spath, InSight program manager and director of Deep Space Exploration Systems at Lockheed Martin Space. «We’ve worked closely with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to design and build this spacecraft. Its environmental testing is complete, and now the launch team is moving to California to perform final preparations for a May launch».

The 1,380-pound/626-kg spacecraft, consisting of the lander, aeroshell and cruise stage, was shipped aboard a U.S. Air Force transport plane, courtesy of the Air Force Air Mobility Command, in an environmentally controlled container. The plane, spacecraft and support personnel took off from Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colorado and touched down at Vandenberg Air Force Base. While at Vandenberg at the Astrotech Space Operations facility, the spacecraft will undergo final processing including system-level checkout, propellant loading and a final spin balance test.

The InSight mission’s principal investigator is JPL’s Bruce Banerdt. The Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), France’s space agency, and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) are each contributing a science instrument to the two-year scientific mission. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages InSight for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Official transfer

The U.S. Navy accepted delivery of the future USS Manchester (LCS-14) during a ceremony in Mobile, Alabama, February 28.

U.S. Navy accepts delivery of future USS Manchester (LCS-14)
U.S. Navy accepts delivery of future USS Manchester (LCS-14)

Delivery marks the official transfer of USS Manchester (LCS-14) from the shipbuilder, an Austal USA-led team, to the U.S. Navy. It is the final milestone prior to commissioning, which is planned for May in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

«Delivery marks a major milestone in the life of the future USS Manchester (LCS-14), as she is transferred to the U.S. Navy and her in-service counter begins», said Captain Mike Taylor, LCS program manager. «Manchester is an exceptional ship which will take her crew around the globe as they sail to protect our country. I look forward to celebrating her upcoming commissioning in Portsmouth».

Manchester is the 12th Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) to be delivered to the U.S. Navy and the seventh of the Independence variant to join the fleet. The Independence variant is noted for its unique trimaran hull, ability to operate at high speeds and its large flight deck size.

«The future USS Manchester (LCS-14) is joining the fleet at a thrilling time in LCS history; LCSs are operationally proven and continue to be in high demand by combatant commanders around the globe», said Captain Jordy Harrison, commander, LCS Squadron-1 (COMLCSRON-1). «We enthusiastically welcome the future USS Manchester (LCS-14) to LCSRON-1 and I both admire and envy the work the crew has undertaken to make this important milestone in the ship’s history possible».

COMLCSRON-1 supports the operational commanders with warships ready for tasking by manning, training, equipping and maintaining littoral combat ships on the west coast. Manchester will be homeported in San Diego with her fellow ships USS Freedom (LCS-1), USS Independence (LCS-2), USS Fort Worth (LCS-3), USS Coronado (LCS-4), USS Jackson (LCS-6), USS Montgomery (LCS-8), USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) and USS Omaha (LCS-12).

«To see the crew come together with Austal, Supervisor of Shipbuilding and the Program Office to celebrate this milestone is an awesome reminder of the team effort that is shipbuilding and warfighting», said Commander Emily Bassett, Manchester’s commanding officer. «LABOR VINCIT! Work Conquers! That’s our ship’s motto. The delivery gives the work of the ship over to her Sailors, and we are ready to conquer».

The LCS is a modular, reconfigurable ship designed to meet validated fleet requirements for surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and mine countermeasures missions in the littoral region. An interchangeable mission package is embarked on each LCS and provides the primary mission systems in one of these warfare areas. Using an open architecture design, modular weapons, sensor systems and a variety of manned and unmanned vehicles to gain, sustain, and exploit littoral maritime supremacy, LCS provides U.S. joint force access to critical theaters.

Program Executive Office (PEO) Littoral Combat Ships is responsible for delivering and sustaining littoral mission capabilities to the fleet.


The Independence Variant of the LCS Class

Construction Hull and superstructure – aluminium alloy
Length overall 421 feet/128.3 m
Beam overall 103 feet/31.4 m
Hull draft (maximum) 14.8 feet/4.5 m
Complement Core Crew – 40
Mission crew – 36
Berthing 76 in a mix of single, double & quad berthing compartments
Maximum mission load 210 tonnes
Mission Bay Volume 118,403 feet3/11,000 m3
Mission packages Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
Surface Warfare (SUW)
Mine Warfare (MIW)
Main engines 2 × GE LM2500
2 × MTU 20V 8000
Waterjets 4 × Wartsila steerable
Bow thruster Retractable azimuthing
Speed 40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h
Range 3,500 NM/4,028 miles/6,482 km
Operational limitation Survival in Sea State 8
Deck area >21,527.8 feet2/2,000 m2
Launch and recovery Twin boom extending crane
Loading Side ramp
Internal elevator to hanger
Launch/Recover Watercraft Sea State 4
Flight deck dimensions 2 × SH-60 or 1 × CH-53 or multiple Unmanned Aerial Vehicles/Vertical Take-off and Land Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs/VTUAVs)
Hanger Aircraft stowage & maintenance for 2 × SH-60
Launch/Recover Aircraft Sea State 5
Standard 1 × 57-mm gun
4 × 12.7-mm/.50 caliber guns
1 × Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) launcher
3 × weapons modules



Ship Laid down Launched Commissioned Homeport
USS Independence (LCS-2) 01-19-2006 04-26-2008 01-16-2010 San Diego, California
USS Coronado (LCS-4) 12-17-2009 01-14-2012 04-05-2014 San Diego, California
USS Jackson (LCS-6) 08-01-2011 12-14-2013 12-05-2015 San Diego, California
USS Montgomery (LCS-8) 06-25-2013 08-06-2014 09-10-2016 San Diego, California
USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) 04-16-2014 02-25-2015 06-10-2017 San Diego, California
USS Omaha (LCS-12) 02-18-2015 11-20-2015 02-03-2018 San Diego, California
USS Manchester (LCS-14) 06-29-2015 05-12-2016 San Diego, California
USS Tulsa (LCS-16) 01-11-2016
USS Charleston (LCS-18) 06-28-2016
USS Cincinnati (LCS-20) 04-10-2017
USS Kansas City (LCS-22) 11-15-2017
USS Oakland (LCS-24)
USS Mobile (LCS-26)
USS Savannah (LCS-28)
USS Canberra (LCS-30)


HELIOS program

The U.S. Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a $150 million contract, with options worth up to $942.8 million, for the development, manufacture and delivery of two high power laser weapon systems, including Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and counter-Unmanned Aerial System (counter-UAS) capabilities, by fiscal year 2020. With the High Energy Laser and Integrated Optical-dazzler with Surveillance (HELIOS) system, Lockheed Martin will help the Navy take a major step forward in its goal to field laser weapon systems aboard surface ships.

Artist’s rendering of Lockheed Martin’s HELIOS system (Credit: Lockheed Martin)
Artist’s rendering of Lockheed Martin’s HELIOS system (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

«The HELIOS program is the first of its kind, and brings together laser weapon, long-range ISR and counter-UAS capabilities, dramatically increasing the situational awareness and layered defense options available to the U.S. Navy», said Michele Evans, vice president and general manager of Integrated Warfare Systems and Sensors. «This is a true system of capabilities, and we’re honored the Navy trusted Lockheed Martin to be a part of fielding these robust systems to the fleet».

HELIOS combines three key capabilities, brought together for the first time in one weapon system:

  • A high-energy laser system: The high-energy fiber laser will be designed to counter unmanned aerial systems and small boats. The energy and thermal management system will leverage Lockheed Martin experience on Department of Defense programs, and the cooling system will be designed for maximum adaptability onboard ships. In addition, Lockheed Martin will bring decades of shipboard integration experience, reducing risk and increasing reliability.
  • A long-range ISR capability: HELIOS sensors will be part of an integrated weapon system, designed to provide decision-makers with maximum access to information. HELIOS data will be available on the Lockheed Martin-led Aegis Combat System.
  • A counter-UAS dazzler capability: The HELIOS dazzler will be designed to obscure adversarial UAS-based ISR capabilities.

In this first increment of the U.S. Navy’s Surface Navy Laser Weapon System program, Lockheed Martin will deliver two units for test by fiscal year 2020. One unit will be delivered for shipboard integration on an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, and one unit will be used for land testing at White Sands Missile Range.

«Lockheed Martin’s spectral beam combined fiber lasers bring flexibility and adaptability to defensive and offensive missions», said Dr. Rob Afzal, senior fellow of laser weapon systems. «Our design is scalable, and we can optimize it to meet requirements for future increments».

Lockheed Martin has more than 40 years of experience developing laser weapon systems. The HELIOS award leverages technology building blocks from internal research and development projects, including the ATHENA system and ALADIN laser, as well as contract experience gained from programs such as the U.S. Army/Directed Energy Joint Technology Office RELI program, the U.S. Air Force LANCE program and the U.S. Navy HEFL program.

Third Arm

Soldiers may be asked to carry heavier, more lethal weapons in the near future, but they soon might have a «third arm» to improve their accuracy and reduce fatigue.

Army Research Lab engineer Dan Baechle demonstrates how to strap on the «Third Arm», a mechanical device designed to improve Soldiers' accuracy and reduce fatigue (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Joe Lacdan)
Army Research Lab engineer Dan Baechle demonstrates how to strap on the «Third Arm», a mechanical device designed to improve Soldiers’ accuracy and reduce fatigue (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Joe Lacdan)

Using a mechanical apparatus that resembles something out of a sci-fi movie, the lightweight device will help redistribute some of the burden Soldiers carry in their arms and shoulders to their abdomen. Engineers at the Army Research Lab (ARL) here have been developing a mechanical «third arm» that attaches to a user’s back hip.

The project, unveiled last year at a conference, is scheduled to be tested again sometime this spring with a minimum of 15 Soldiers.

«Right now we have a prototype that’s essentially a research platform that we’re using to investigate different types of materials – how materials and structures can stabilize a weapon or a shield, reduce fatigue on the Soldiers’ arms, but also improve accuracy», said mechanical engineer Dan Baechle.

The project is currently on its second prototype model with improvements based on Soldier feedback. Some of the improvements include an extendable hinge plate so that a single plate can fit Soldiers of different sizes and body types. Baechle said further research must be completed before the device can be fielded. The current prototype at 3.5 pounds/1.6 kg can now support weapons such as the M249 light machine gun that weighs about 27 pounds/12.2 kg.

The project not only helps stabilize weapons, but can aid Soldiers for defensive purposes while carrying 20-pound/9-kg shields. The project team developed a custom mount that connects from the arm to the shield so Soldiers can use the Third Arm to help alleviate muscle fatigue.

Concept development began in late 2015 when ARL engineers brainstormed ideas on how to make a dismounted Soldier more lethal. Engineers began building the first prototypes in 2016. The focus of the project centered on providing stability for dismounted Soldier. ARL engineers are examining different types of spring materials to further balance the weapon against gravity. Baechle said they used a carbon fiber material in the current prototype because of its light weight and density.

«We started out with just trying to think of a way to help improve the lethality for the dismounted Soldier», Baechle said. «Generally, that means stabilizing the weapon or giving the Soldier a more powerful weapon. Can we stabilize that weapon to improve accuracy? But also, if we’re stabilizing the weapon and taking the load off of the Soldiers’ arms, does that improve the Soldier’s readiness? Does it also improve the Soldier’s accuracy with the weapon»?

Last summer, six Soldiers volunteered to take part in a pilot study, where researchers placed electromyography sensors to measure muscle activity. In particular, when holding a weapon or shield for extended periods of time, the arm begins to shake, impacting shooter accuracy. The six-person research team tested Soldiers firing weapons with and without the apparatus.

«We found that it reduced the fatigue and reduced the muscle activation for some Soldiers», Baechle said, explaining that data is being used to motivate a larger trial this year with more Soldiers. This year he also plans to get more feedback on what Soldiers think about the device and what should be changed.

Last year researchers collected data on how much muscles were firing with the use of the third arm compared to without it.

«There are studies showing that, if you hold a weight out at arm’s length, eventually your arm starts shaking», Baechle said. «And that shaking is going to reduce your accuracy with the weapon … and if you’re holding a shield, it’s going to reduce the amount of time that you can hold that shield. So, we’re taking that weight of the weapon or the shield off of the arms and transferring it back to the torso».

While the test yielded positive results, Baechle said some of the Soldiers had problems with the device. Improvements made this year include changing the mounting location from the front of the Soldier’s vest to the back.

Researchers hope to further improve the device to make it more comfortable and reduce fatigue even more. They are continually attempting to make adjustments to the device to boost a shooter’s accuracy.

Baechle demonstrated how ARL researchers use a motion capture system, using monitors and infra-red targeting to track a Soldier’s weapon and target.

«We use this system to evaluate both how subjects or Soldiers move the weapon and with and without the third arm», Baechle said. «But also, how the arm improves the accuracy or changes the aim point while they’re using the weapon».

Finally, researchers hope the project can reduce some of the recoil force after firing a weapon.

«You have a lighter weight weapon but potentially a higher caliber weapon which normally would increase the recoil on your shoulder», Baechle said. «Could you use Third Arm and some clever materials on the arm to redirect that recoil back toward the body and thus allow the Soldier to wield a higher energy weapon without necessarily burdening the Soldier more»?

Underwater vehicle

On 16th February ECA Group presented its latest mid-size AUV A18-M dedicated to mine counter measures. With its compactness and its unequaled high-quality imagery this new generation underwater drone becomes the reference in the category of autonomous underwater vehicles dedicated to mine hunting. A live demonstration in Toulon area has been conducted in order to show some of the amazing performances of this new maritime drone that is completing ECA Group’s AUV family.

ECA Group unveils its new generation mid-size AUV A18-M for underwater mine warfare
ECA Group unveils its new generation mid-size AUV A18-M for underwater mine warfare


AUV A18-M: compact, modular, connected and enduring

A18-M is the new generation of autonomous underwater vehicle developed by ECA Group for efficient mine detection and classification in all water depths up to 300 m/984 feet. Like the A9-M and A27-M, the AUV A18-M is specifically designed to operate in the close vicinity of the smartest mines without triggering them.

«This mid-size AUV is the top trade-off between, size, weight and long endurance. Its payload capacity makes it able to host high performance sonar, such as Synthetic Aperture Sonar (SAS) providing unprecedented detection and classification performances», says Léonie Delacou, AUVs product manager at ECA Group.

More compact than previous generation of MCM AUV, A18-M is easy to deploy even from small naval platforms such as new generation of Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV). Thanks to its high stability, and the fact that it is less affected by waves than a surface ship or a towed system, a very high image quality is obtained.

In addition, the AUV A18-M can also adapt its operating depth to the environmental conditions, avoiding blind zones due to sound speed stratification.

Advanced embedded processing allows to process in real time the sonar image raw data and extract a list of contacts which are relayed back to the command center using an advanced communication network, with an Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV) or an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) acting as gateway. These contacts are then reviewed by sonar operators onboard a mothership or onshore, in order to launch identification and disposal.


An unequaled performance gains with a Synthetic Aperture Sonar (SAS) onboard A18-M

More generally, the AUV is able also to detect any kind of hazard such as improvised explosive devices (IED), pollutants, as well as to provide very accurate maps of the seabed which allow the environment to be assessed with high fidelity.

The AUV A18-M integrates the Synthetic Aperture Sonar (SAS) and has very high area coverage rate, of the order of 2 km2/hr which represents between 5 and 10 times more than that of a conventional side-looking sonar on an AUV. This optimal configuration enables to cover very large areas – of the order 20-40 km2 (depending on transit distance) in a fraction of the time of legacy assets, with far superior image quality, and with reduced risk to personnel.

«The performance gain is due to the very high resolution in both range and cross-range offered by a wideband SAS, of the order of 2.5 cm × 3 cm constant up to the edges of the swath, which is unachievable, at any practical range, by any other type of sonar on any type of platform. With the only possible exception of buried or concealed mines, all known mines can be detected and high quality classification cues can be extracted from the highlight and shadow structure», says Doctor Marc Pinto Program Director for Systems of Robots and sonar expert at ECA Group.


A18-M joins the UMIS team: simultaneity & interoperability optimize operations at sea

AUV A18-M can be integrated within a larger unmanned system, such as ECA Group’s UMIS (Unmanned Maritime Integrated System) and benefit from common interfaces, communication network as well as data processing system.

«The A18-M joins now the ECA Group MCM robotic ‘team’ which is composed of the Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) INSPECTOR MK2, the identification ROV SEASCAN and the expendable mine disposal vehicle, also called minekiller, the K-STER C. All of these robots can work together in order to accomplish tasks simultaneously or for INSPECTOR USV, to be used a communication relay to send gathered a preprocessed information (ATD – Automatic Target Detection) to a command and control system on a mothership or on shore to deploy the identification and disposal vehicle. This is the first comprehensive unmanned maritime system that includes all types of naval robots: USVs, AUVs, ROVs and EMDS», says Daniel Scourzic, UMIS (Unmanned Maritime Integrated Systems) Marketing Manager at ECA Group.

Operating in parallel several unmanned devices, the UMIS system allows the user to have higher efficiency and clearance rate, enabling to achieve typical operations in at least 3 times shorter period compared to conventional systems without any risks for the ship and the operators who stay out of danger zones.

UK’s amphibious forces

A troop of Royal Marines from 42 Commando in Plymouth has embarked in the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier to prove the process of launching them by helicopter to conduct operations ashore.

Royal Marines launch 'assault' from HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08)
Royal Marines launch ‘assault’ from HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08)

Marines from Lima Company and supporting elements from HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Ship’s Company have been called to ‘Assault Stations’ for the very first time, on exercise.

The troops were processed from their accommodation, through the ship, collecting kit, including weapons and ammunition in a carefully orchestrated process, in through the massive hangar and onto the flight deck to simulate being launched ashore by helicopter.

The Royal Navy’s amphibious assault capability has to now been provided by assault ships HMS Bulwark (L15) and HMS Albion (L14) and the Landing Platform Helicopter (LPH), HMS Ocean (L12).

Whilst HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) does not have the surface assault capability with landing craft of the specialist ships, her four-acre flight deck provides plenty of scope from which to project manpower and equipment ashore using the variety of helicopters she will be able to host.

The ship is currently at sea conducting trials which will determine the operating parameters of several different helicopters, including Merlin Mk2, Mk3 and Mk4, Merlin Crowsnest, Chinook, Apache and Wildcat.

Speaking as Assault Stations were successfully completed for the first time, the Ship’s Amphibious Operations Officer (AOO), Lieutenant Colonel Mark Searight Royal Marines, explained the importance of this capability: «HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) will maintain the United Kingdom’s ability to have a forward-based strategic conventional deterrent which has the ability not only to conduct strike operations with the F-35B Lightning II, which is its primary role, but also to have an Embarked Military Force that is fully trained and ready to be projected ashore to conduct tasks that might arise. That might be soft power for defence engagement, all the way through to humanitarian and disaster relief and war fighting. This training is part of the initial work-up to achieve that».

He added: «The training has gone really well. It’s been an education to the Ship’s Company on what the LPH role will entail, and there has also been education to those who assist me to achieve aviation assault operations: Assault guides, FLYCO, the Logistics department who make sure they can sustain the operation and troops sufficiently; the ammunition personnel in the Air Engineering Department who make sure we have got the right ammunition. It’s a complex process».

Having previously served as the Area of Operations (AOO) in HMS Ark Royal (91) 10 years ago, Lieutenant Colonel Searight says the training today is as relevant as it ever was: «We are mirroring exactly what we did in our previous carriers and HMS Ocean (L12); our Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are almost identical. But there has been a degree of the Marines having to relearn some of the skills that we took for granted before our most recent land campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. Marines are an adaptable force; that’s our USP as the UK’s amphibious forces. So, to ask them to spend time at sea is not a surprise or a task too far for any of them. But we’ve taken some time away from conducting major sea campaigns so this sort of training is extremely valuable».

In order for the ship to demonstrate an initial capability to operate in the Landing Platform Helicopter (LPH) role, it should be able to project Royal Marines and their equipment ashore by aviation, prove ship to shore communications, sustain the troops for the period they are ashore and recover them back to the ship on completion.

This recent ’Assault Station’ training is a step on the road towards achieving an initial LPH capability and paves the way for more complex LPH evolutions this autumn.

Saab reveals GlobalEye

23 February 2018, Saab rolls out the first GlobalEye Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft to the media at its Linköping site, Sweden. GlobalEye is an advanced, swing role airborne surveillance system based on a Global 6000 jet aircraft from Bombardier, which has undergone a thorough modification programme to adapt it for its role. The rollout marks a significant milestone on the programme.

Saab reveals first GlobalEye AEW&C aircraft
Saab reveals first GlobalEye AEW&C aircraft

Saab is currently producing the GlobalEye AEW&C, combining air, maritime and ground surveillance in one single solution. GlobalEye combines a full suite of sophisticated sensors including the powerful new extended range radar (Erieye ER), with the ultra-long range Global 6000 jet aircraft.

«Saab’s breadth and depth of expertise combines all of the necessary knowledge and technology required to design, develop and produce the most advanced AEW&C systems. Our collective capabilities deliver unrivalled solutions such as GlobalEye», said Anders Carp, Senior Vice President and Head of Saab’s business area Surveillance. «This milestone is clear evidence that the GlobalEye programme and Saab are delivering on our commitments».

This first aircraft is equipped and being prepared for ground and flight trials to gather aerodynamic data as part of the ongoing development and production programme.

The development and production contract was awarded at the Dubai Air Show November 2015 by the United Arab Emirates with an initial order for two systems. An additional order by the UAE for a third system was announced in 2017. The GlobalEye solution brings extended detection range, endurance and the ability to perform multiple roles with one solution, including tasks such as search & rescue, border surveillance and military operations.

Christening of

The Navy christened its newest Expeditionary Fast Transport, the future USNS Burlington (T-EPF-10), during a 10 a.m. CST ceremony Saturday, February 24, at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Alabama.

Navy christened Expeditionary Fast Transport Burlington
Navy christened Expeditionary Fast Transport Burlington

The future USNS Burlington, designated T-EPF-10, will be the first ship in naval service to honor Burlington, Vermont’s largest city. The first Navy ship Burlington (PF-51) was named for Burlington, Iowa, and served during World War II.

The principal speaker is U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont. Mrs. Marcelle Pomerleau Leahy, Senator Leahy’s wife of 55 years, served as the ship’s sponsor. In a time-honored Navy tradition, she christened the ship by breaking a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow.

«This ship honors Burlington, Vermont, a city that embodies American values and its patriotic, hardworking citizens for their support and contributions to our Navy», said Secretary of the U.S. Navy Richard V. Spencer. «Burlington, like the other ships in the EPF program, will provide our commanders high-speed sealift mobility and agility. I am thankful for this ship and her crew who will serve our nation for decades to come and I am thankful for our industrial force teammates whose service makes this great ship possible».

With an all-aluminum shallow-draft hull, the EPF is a commercial-based catamaran capable of intra-theater personnel and cargo lift providing combatant commanders high-speed sealift mobility with inherent cargo handling capability and agility to achieve positional advantage over operational distances.

EPF class ships are designed to transport 600 short tons of military cargo, 1,200 nautical miles/1,381 miles/2,222 km, at an average speed of 35 knots/40 mph/65 km/h. The ship is capable of operating in shallow-draft ports and waterways, interfacing with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities and on/off-loading a combat-loaded Abrams main battle tank (M1A2).

The EPF includes a flight deck for helicopter operations and an off-load ramp that will allow vehicles to quickly drive off the ship. EPF’s shallow draft (under 15 feet/4.57 meter) further enhances littoral operations and port access. This makes the EPF an extremely flexible asset for support of a wide range of operations including maneuver and sustainment, relief operations in small or damaged ports, flexible logistics support or as the key enabler for rapid transport.

The EPF program delivered its ninth ship late last year, USNS City of Bismarck (T-EPF-9). USNS Puerto Rico (T-EPF-11) and USNS Newport (T-EPF-12) are currently under construction at Austal’s shipyard.



Material Hull and superstructure – aluminium alloy
Length overall 103 m/337.9 feet
Beam overall 28.5 m/93.5 feet
Hull draft (maximum) 3.83 m/12.57 feet
Area (with tie-downs) 1,863 m2/20,053 feet2
Clear Height 4.75 m/15.6 feet
Turning diameter 26.2 m/86.0 feet
ISO TEU (Twenty Equivalent Units) Stations 6 Interface Panels
Crew 41
Single SR 2
Double SR 6
Quad SR 7
Troop Seats 312
Troop Berths Permanent: 104
Temporary: 46
Galley and Messing 48
Main Engines 4 × MTU 20V8000 M71L Diesel Engines 4 × 9.1 MW
Gear boxes 4 × ZF 60000NR2H Reduction Gears
Waterjets 4 × Wartsila WLD 1400 SR
Average Speed 35 knots/40 mph/65 km/h @ 90% MCR with 635 mt (700 st) payload
Maximum Speed 43 knots/50 mph/80 km/h without payload
Maximum Transit Range 1,200 NM/1,381 miles/2,222 km
Self-Deployment Range 5,600 NM/6,444 miles/10,371 km
Survival Through SS-7
NAVAIR Level 1 Class 2 Certified Flight Deck for one helicopter
Centreline parking area for one helicopter
NAVAIR Level 1 class 4 Type 2 Certified VERTREP (Vertical Replenishment)
Helicopter Control Station
Active Ride Control Transcom Interceptors
Foils: 3.24 m2/34.9 feet2 each, forward on inboard sides of demi-hulls
Vehicle Ramp Articulated Slewing Stern Ramp
Straight aft to 45 Starboard
Telescoping Boom Crane 12.3 mt @ 15 m, 18.2 mt @ 10 m/13.6 Lt @ 49.2 feet, 20.1 Lt @ 32.8 feet



USNS Spearhead (EPF-1), Delivered

USNS Choctaw County (EPF-2), Delivered

USNS Millinocket (EPF-3), Delivered

USNS Fall River (EPF-4), Delivered

USNS Trenton (EPF-5), Delivered

USNS Brunswick (EPF-6), Delivered

USNS Carson City (EPF-7), Delivered

USNS Yuma (EPF-8), Delivered

USNS City of Bismark (EPF-9), Delivered

USNS Burlington (EPF-10), Christened

USNS Puerto Rico (EPF-11), Under construction

USNS Newport (EPF-12), On order

21st LCS

The Lockheed Martin-led industry team officially laid the keel for the U.S. Navy’s 21st Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the future USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul (LCS-21), in a ceremony held at Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wisconsin.

A welder authenticates the keel of LCS-21, the future USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul, by welding the initials of ship sponsor Jodi J. Greene. The Keel Laying is the formal recognition of the start of the ship's module construction process
A welder authenticates the keel of LCS-21, the future USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul, by welding the initials of ship sponsor Jodi J. Greene. The Keel Laying is the formal recognition of the start of the ship’s module construction process

Ship sponsor Jodi Greene completed the time-honored tradition and authenticated the keel by welding her initials onto a steel plate that will be placed in the hull of the ship.

«It is a tremendous honor to serve as the sponsor of the future USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul», Greene said. «I look forward to supporting the ship and its crew throughout the building process and the life of the ship. I know the people of Minneapolis and Saint Paul will proudly support her when she is commissioned and officially enters the Navy fleet».

The Lockheed Martin and Fincantieri Marinette Marine team is currently in full-rate production of the Freedom-variant of the LCS, and has delivered five ships to the U.S. Navy to date. The future USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul is one of eight ships in various stages of construction at Fincantieri Marinette Marine, with one more in long-lead production.

«We are proud to build another proven warship that allows our Navy to carry out their missions around the world», said Joe DePietro, Lockheed Martin vice president of small combatants and ship systems. «We look forward to working with the U.S. Navy to continue building and delivering highly capable and adaptable Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ships to the fleet».

USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul (LCS-21) will be the second vessel named for the Twin Cities. SSN-708, a Los Angeles-class submarine, served as the first USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul and was decommissioned in 2008. Her name honors the Twin Cities’ patriotic, hard-working citizens for their support of the military.

The Freedom-variant LCS team is comprised of Lockheed Martin, shipbuilder Fincantieri Marinette Marine, naval architect Gibbs & Cox and more than 800 suppliers in 42 states.


Ship Design Specifications

Hull Advanced semiplaning steel monohull
Length Overall 389 feet/118.6 m
Beam Overall 57 feet/17.5 m
Draft 13.5 feet/4.1 m
Full Load Displacement Approximately 3,200 metric tons
Top Speed Greater than 40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h
Range at top speed 1,000 NM/1,151 miles/1,852 km
Range at cruise speed 4,000 NM/4,603 miles/7,408 km
Watercraft Launch and Recovery Up to Sea State 4
Aircraft Launch and Recovery Up to Sea State 5
Propulsion Combined diesel and gas turbine with steerable water jet propulsion
Power 85 MW/113,600 horsepower
Hangar Space Two MH-60 Romeo Helicopters
One MH-60 Romeo Helicopter and three Vertical Take-off and Land Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicles (VTUAVs)
Core Crew Less than 50
Accommodations for 75 sailors provide higher sailor quality of life than current fleet
Integrated Bridge System Fully digital nautical charts are interfaced to ship sensors to support safe ship operation
Core Self-Defense Suite Includes 3D air search radar
Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) gunfire control system
Rolling-Airframe Missile Launching System
57-mm Main Gun
Mine, Torpedo Detection
Decoy Launching System



Ship Laid down Launched Commissioned Homeport
USS Freedom (LCS-1) 06-02-2005 09-23-2006 11-08-2008 San Diego, California
USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) 07-11-2009 12-07-2010 09-22-2012 San Diego, California
USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) 10-27-2011 12-18-2013 11-21-2015 San Diego, California
USS Detroit (LCS-7) 08-11-2012 10-18-2014 10-22-2016 San Diego, California
USS Little Rock (LCS-9) 06-27-2013 07-18-2015 12-16-2017 San Diego, California
USS Sioux City (LCS-11) 02-19-2014 01-30-2016
USS Wichita (LCS-13) 02-09-2015 09-17-2016
USS Billings (LCS-15) 11-02-2015 07-01-2017
USS Indianapolis (LCS-17) 07-18-2016
USS St. Louis (LCS-19) 05-17-2017
USS Minneapolis/St. Paul (LCS-21) 02-22-2018
USS Cooperstown (LCS-23)
USS Marinette LCS-25
USS Nantucket (LCS-27)


Navy Accepts Woody

The Navy accepted delivery of its second Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) ship, USNS Hershel «Woody» Williams (T-ESB 4), February 22.

An undated artist rendering of the future expeditionary sea base USNS Hershel «Woody» Williams (T-ESB-4) (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of General Dynamics/Released)
An undated artist rendering of the future expeditionary sea base USNS Hershel «Woody» Williams (T-ESB-4) (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of General Dynamics/Released)

The delivery marks the official transfer of the ship from the shipbuilder to the Navy. USNS Hershel «Woody» Williams (T-ESB 4) will be owned and operated by Military Sealift Command.

«The delivery of this ship marks an enhancement in the Navy’s forward presence and ability to execute a variety of expeditionary warfare missions», said Captain Scot Searles, Strategic and Theater Sealift program manager, Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships. «Like the ship’s namesake, USNS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams will exemplify the Navy’s commitment to service».

USNS Hershel «Woody» Williams (T-ESB 4) is named for Medal of Honor recipient, Hershel Williams. During the battle of Iwo Jima, then-Corporal Williams bravely went forward alone against enemy machine gun fire to open a lane for the infantry. Williams continues to serve his fellow men and women in uniform through his foundation, the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation, established to honor families who have lost a loved one in service to their country.

ESBs are highly flexible, modular platforms that are optimized to support a variety of maritime based missions including Special Operations Force, Airborne Mine Counter Measures operations, humanitarian support and command and control of traditional military missions. The ESBs include a four-spot flight deck, hangar, and a versatile mission deck; and are designed around four core capabilities: aviation facilities, berthing, equipment staging support, and command and control assets. The ESBs will operate as the component commanders require, providing the fleet with a critical access infrastructure that supports the flexible deployment of forces and supplies.

USNS Hershel «Woody» Williams (T-ESB 4) was constructed by General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego. NASSCO is also constructing the future USNS Miguel Keith (T-ESB-5).

As one of the Defense Department’s largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, and boats and craft.