USS Little Rock LCS 9

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USS Little Rock LCS 9
at completion of Sea Trials


Commissioning Set For The New
USS Little Rock LCS 9

Navy service nearing for future USS Little Rock
Commissioning set for December

By Hunter Field

The U.S. Navy has taken possession of the shallow-water combat ship that will become the USS Little Rock once commissioned near year's end.

The $360 million ship will soon make its way from the Wisconsin shipyard where it was built through the Great Lakes to Buffalo, N.Y., where it will be formally inducted into the naval fleet near the convergence of the Buffalo River and Lake Erie on Dec. 16, a Navy spokesman said.

The future USS Little Rock will be the second Navy ship christened after Arkansas' capital city. The first -- a Cleveland-class light cruiser put into service in 1945 before transforming into a guided missile cruiser a decade later -- is now a museum in Buffalo.

The December ceremony will be the first time in the Navy's history that a ship has been commissioned beside its namesake.

Ron Maxwell, coordinator for the USS Little Rock Namesake Committee, said the commissioning will be historic for both the Navy and Little Rock.

"Arkansas has a proud history of stepping up to the plate; there's a lot of patriots here," Maxwell, a Navy veteran, said. "This is a very patriotic thing and an honor to have a ship named after your city."

The future USS Little Rock, known as LCS 9, will be the Navy's 11th littoral combat ship and the fifth of the Freedom variant developed by a team led by Lockheed Martin. The others were built by an Austal USA-led group. The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded contracts for 16 more littoral combat ships to be split by the two companies.

Small by the Navy's standards (389 feet long and 57 feet wide), the class of ships gives the Navy access to thousands of ports unreachable by other ships in the fleet.

The vessels' modular design allows them to be reconfigured for three different missions: surface warfare, mine countermeasures and anti-submarine operations. Shallow-water ships commonly conduct anti-piracy, maritime interdiction and disaster relief missions.

The ship, which features a helicopter landing pad on its rear deck, can exceed speeds of 45 knots, or 45 nautical miles per hour. It feeds 1.9 million gallons of water through its four jets every minute, fast enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool in 20 seconds.

The future USS Little Rock, which is expected to have a 30-year service life, passed its acceptance trials on Lake Michigan in August, posting the highest score of any Freedom-variant ship to date.

"We are excited to welcome the future USS Little Rock to the Fleet," Capt. Shawn Johnston, commander of LCS Squadron Two, said. "Successful completion of this milestone is another important step to bring more LCS to the Fleet. We look forward to completing the building phase of Little Rock and moving on to the operational and deployment phases of each subsequent LCS. Our ability to operate for extended periods of time from forward operating stations will provide our Fleet commanders more flexibility and posture overseas."

From Buffalo, the ship will set sail for its home port in Mayport, Fla., before deploying to sea with a stock crew of 50 sailors, which can double in size depending on the mission package.

Once at sea, the ship, with "Little Rock" displayed on the hull, will be many foreigners' first exposure to the United States, officials said. The ship and its crew -- which has already visited Little Rock -- will maintain a relationship and connection to the city throughout the ship's life, officials said.

At the commissioning ceremony, the Little Rock city officials will present the crew with a gift from the city. The namesake committee also will give the crew members gifts, Maxwell said. The committee is still determining what the gifts will be, but it's searching for something emblematic of Little Rock.

Officials in Buffalo are planning a week-long celebration for the commissioning, with invitations extended to government officials as high as the White House.

Several dozen Arkansas officials and residents are expected to attend the festivities.

Once commissioned, the local namesake committee will morph into another standing body to maintain relations with the ship and support the ship's crew. For example, the committee may decide to fund scholarships for children of crew members, Maxwell said.

Former Navy Secretary Ray Mabus is owed much of the thanks for the ship's name. The former governor of Mississippi spent part of naval service aboard the original USS Little Rock.

The Navy accepted the future USS Little Rock LCS 9 on the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Little Rock's Central High School by a group of black students known as the Little Rock Nine. Navy officials said the acceptance date and hull number were coincidental.

Shipbuilders began constructing the future USS Little Rock in 2012, but its delivery and commissioning were delayed after some of the initial Freedom class ships experienced mechanical failures and government watchdogs called the littoral combat ship program into question.

In mid-2015, the Navy issued three corrective action requests to the Lockheed Martin team, and the U.S. Government Accountability Office asked Congress last year in a report that it "consider not funding" the littoral combat ships requested by the Defense Department in its 2017 budget.

However, Lockheed Martin and the Navy say they have sorted out the ships' problems, and congressional support for the program has remained strong, due in part to the large number of shipbuilding jobs supported by the program.

(Information for this article was contributed by staff members of Bloomberg News.

Posted: October 8, 2017

"New USS Little Rock passes seaworthy test"



The Buffalo News  -  August 31, 2017

The future USS Little Rock passed comprehensive seaworthy trials last week on Lake Michigan, a necessary step before the ship can be brought to Buffalo's harbor later this year to be commissioned alongside the original USS Little Rock, which is permanently docked at Canalside.

The new USS Little Rock will be the first Navy ship commissioned alongside its namesake predecessor and the first Navy ship to be commissioned in Buffalo.

The five-day trials by the U.S. Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey represent the last major milestone before delivery of the littoral combat ship.

The new Little Rock will be among the fastest ships in the Navy's fleet, will be able to navigate closer to shorelines and take on illicit-trafficking operations as well as counter-piracy operations. It will have a core crew of 50.

LCS9 Sea Trials
U.S. Navy Photo
Posted 01 Sep 2017

LITTLE ROCK LCS 9 Completes Builder's Trials

MARINETTE, Wis., Aug. 21, 2017 -- The Lockheed Martin-led industry team successfully completed the future USS Little Rock's LCS 9 Builder's Trials on Aug. 17. The ship's sea trials were completed in Lake Michigan after a successful set of demonstrations which saw the fifth LCS 9 hit speeds over 40 knots....

Sea trials are designed to test the ship's performance under a variety of operating conditions. During the builder's trials, the industry team successfully demonstrated reliability and performance improvements on the ship's propulsion system. All future Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ships will incorporate these improvements.

The Lockheed Martin-led team is now preparing Little Rock for acceptance trials in the coming weeks, when the U.S. Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) will conduct inspections and witness final demonstrations before the ship is delivered to the Navy this year....

The team is on track to complete sea trials for LCS 9 and LCS 11 this year and deliver each ship shortly thereafter....

For additional information, visit our website:

Posted 21 August 2017

LCS 9 Underway
Bow-on view
Rooster Tail with Rainbow
Fantail - note Rainbow

LCS 9 during Builder's Trials (click to enlarge)

Mayport set to welcome two more 'ships of the future'

Mayport set to receive boost as part of big Littoral Combat Ship program changes

New engineering training ordered for class of Mayport-bound ships
By Rich Jones

Jacksonville, FL - Excitement is in the air as Naval Station Mayport officially welcomes USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) and USS Detroit (LCS-7).

Mayport is going to become home for all of the Navy's Freedom variant LCS's. Milwaukee and Detroit lead the way for Littoral Combat Ship Squadron (LCSRON) Two.

"Not only great for our national security, which shows you the importance of Northeast Florida, but also a tremendous impact on our local economy with all the ships and planes and people", said retiring US Representative Ander Crenshaw.

"The Littoral Combat Ship, the so-called ship of the future, all of those on the east coast are going to be headquartered right here in Mayport", Crenshaw said.

The Navy says Mayport will be home to 12 LCS, meaning more Sailors and families coming to the First Coast. This comes at an important time for the base, which has seen ship levels drop with the decommissioning of Navy frigates.

LCS vessels were designed to be high-speed, shallow draft multi-mission ships capable of operating independently or with a strike group. They are designed to defeat growing littoral threats and provide access and dominance in coastal waters. A fast, maneuverable and networked surface-combatant, LCS's provide the required warfighting capabilities and operational flexibility to execute focused missions such as surface warfare, mine warfare and anti-submarine warfare.

USS Milwaukee was commissioned Nov. 21, 2015 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Since arriving in Mayport last February, the ship's crew has successfully completed full-ship shock trials and is currently undergoing planned maintenance availability at BAE Shipyard.

USS Detroit was commissioned Oct. 22, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. On Nov. 23, the ship arrived at Mayport and has been conducting combat system ship qualification testing (CSSQT).

Over the next year three more ships, which have yet to be commissioned, will call Naval Station Mayport home: USS Little Rock LCS 9, USS Sioux City (LCS-11) and USS Wichita (LCS-13).

Posted: 4:17 a.m. Friday, Dec. 30, 2016

Mayport LCS Crew 109 Volunteers With USS Little Rock Association

15 May 2016

By Lt. Heath Sivley - LCS Crew 109

Six Sailors from littoral combat ship (LCS) Crew 109 joined members of the USS Little Rock Association at the museum ship USS Little Rock (CL 92/CLG 4) in Buffalo, N.Y., to perform restoration on the decommissioned ship prior to the start of the summer tourist season.

For 24 years, former Sailors who served aboard the Cleveland-class light cruiser reunite annually to restore and maintain the ship while sharing sea stories and preserving the ship's history.

The original Little Rock was commissioned in 1945, and was decommissioned in 1976. The ship was converted to a museum and relocated to the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park 1980. She is the last remaining Cleveland-class light cruiser.

Sailors from LCS Crew 109, the Warhawgs, traveled from their homeport in Mayport, Fla. to assist in the annual restoration project. Crew 109 is made up of a core crew of 50 Sailors and serves as the commissioning crew for USS Little Rock LCS 9. The newest Little Rock will be the fifth Freedom-class littoral combat ship, and is scheduled to be commissioned in Buffalo later this year.

"This year has turned out to be a record-setter with respect to the number of participants in the USS Little Rock Association's annual work party," said Art Tilley, a former Missile Technician 2nd Class who served aboard Little Rock from 1962-1963.

"The additional six active-duty Navy personnel from LCS Crew 109 enabled us to work on more than double the number of projects, including installing weather deck canvas, prepping and painting significant portions of the Missile House exterior and repositioning several exterior deck drains," said Tilley. "It goes without saying that this will be a work party which will be remembered by the 'old' crew as unquestionably the most successful working party ever, thanks to the fantastic efforts and the much appreciated can-do attitude of our Crew 109 sailors."

"This has been a great opportunity for Sailors from the namesake Little Rock and the future LCS 9 to get together and not only build personal relationships but also preserve the history of the ship as well," said Cmdr. Paul Burkhart, commanding officer of the future Little Rock.

When the future Little Rock is commissioned, it will mark the first time a U.S. Navy ship is commissioned alongside her decommissioned namesake. This bridging of generations was evident as Sailors from the two ships worked together.

"The opportunity to see their heritage being passed down and perpetuating the legacy from the former crew to the new crew has been a treat for the staff here at the Buffalo Naval," said retired Aviation Hydraulic Structural Mechanic John Branning, a maintenance supervisor for the Buffalo Naval Park.

"Not to mention the sheer amount of painting and general material condition upkeep that the two groups have accomplished really helps us," Branning added. "Working parties like these are truly invaluable and having actual active-duty Sailors who have damage control and maintenance training really helps bring in updated view points and technological knowledge that some of us Old Guard are lacking."

"Meeting and working alongside other Little Rock Sailors was an experience within itself," said Engineman 2nd Class Kyler Ayscue from Crew 109.

"Hearing their stories and experiences, it's amazing how, even after 40 years or more, our stories can still relate."

Posted Approx: 15 June 2016

New USS Little Rock to be commissioned in Buffalo

By Chris Caya - April 26, 2016

An historic event is in the works for the USS. Little Rock at the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park.

The Navy's new USS. Little Rock LCS 9 is going to be commissioned in Buffalo's Inner Harbor. Maurice Naylon, chairman of the local commissioning committee, says it's an historic event.

"Ships are commissioned throughout the Navy. But there's never been a ship commissioned... in the 240 year history of the Navy - right beside its namesake. And that's going to happen when the new U.S.S. Little Rock arrives in our port to be commissioned right beside its namesake," Naylon said.

The new ship's Commander, Paul Burkhart, is a Rochester native. Burkhart says no date has been set yet, but he says the new Little Rock will be in Buffalo for a week-long commissioning celebration.

"New USS Little Rock to be commissioned at Canalside"

By Aaron Besecker - 16 Apr 2016

Buffalo is going to be part of U.S. Navy history.

A new combat vessel will officially join the Navy's fleet during ceremonies on the city's waterfront later this year or early next year.

The new USS Little Rock, a Littoral Combat Ship, will be commissioned at Canalside next to the decommissioned ship of the same name, the first time an event will have happened with the vessels in such proximity in the Navy's history.

The new Little Rock will enter active duty next to the former cruiser, now a floating museum in the Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park. The event also will mark the first time in the city's modern history that a ship entered the Navy's fleet here.

And the man in charge of the ship will be Commander Paul Burkhart, who graduated from high school outside Rochester in 1985.

Littoral Combat Ships get their name because they operate in waters close to shore.

The new Little Rock will be 378 feet long and 56 feet wide and will weigh about 3,000 tons.

That's shorter and lighter than ships in the destroyer class.

"We're going to be fast and agile. We'll go above 40 knots - other Navy ships don't quite make it that fast," Burkhart said.

The ship will be able to undertake three types of combat missions: anti-submarine, anti-mine and surface warfare.

Because of its abilities, the ship also will be well suited to take on illicit-trafficking operations in places like the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, as well as counter-piracy operations like around the Horn of Africa, Burkhart said.

The ship will have a helicopter launch pad, a ramp for small boats and will have new water jet-propulsion.

A core crew of 50 will operate the ship, plus 20 to 23 more sailors depending on the mission-specific equipment brought aboard. That means the total size of the crew will peak at fewer than 100, far fewer than the 250 to 350 sailors aboard a destroyer, Burkhart said.

"It takes fewer people because it's more automated," the graduate of Churchville-Chili High School said. In his 30-plus year career in the Navy, this will be Burkhart's 10th ship.

He enlisted in the Navy in Buffalo in 1984, before his senior year in high school. He eventually took part in an enlisted commissioning program, which allowed him to rise through the ranks as an officer.

The new Little Rock, named after the capital of Arkansas as was its namesake, will be the ninth ship of the LCS class. It was christened last July 18 at Marinette Marine Corp.'s shipyard in Marinette, Wis., with an estimated cost of $360 million. There are two variants within the LCS class - the Freedom variant, which has a conventional hull; and the Independence variant, which is a trimaran, or multi-hull boat. The Little Rock is a Freedom variant.

Once the ship is commissioned, it will undergo several months of tests of its combat systems and then mission-specific testing before it is ready to be deployed.

The decommissioned Little Rock was put into service as a light cruiser in 1945 and decommissioned in 1949. It was recommissioned as a guided missile cruiser in 1960 and decommissioned in 1976. It opened to the public in the naval park in 1979.

When the new Little Rock arrives in Buffalo from the Menominee River north of Green Bay for its commissioning event at Canalside, members of the public will be able to tour the ship as part of weeklong festivities. A date for the event has not been finalized.

USS Little Rock LCS 9 Crew 109's commissioning ceremony marks the
first LCS Crew commissioning ceremony for NavSta Mayport

08 Jan 2016

Click HERE for more details.

Click HERE for an excellent treatise on ship commissioning events.

Excerpts from "DefenseNews" LINK

Pentagon Cuts LCS to 40 Ships, 1 Shipbuilder

By Christopher P. Cavas
December 17, 2015

WASHINGTON - The US Navy's fight to buy 52 variants of its littoral combat ship (LCS) from two shipbuilders may have taken a fatal blow this week after the secretary of defense directed the service to cap its buy at 40 ships and pick only one supplier. The directive also orders the Navy to buy only one ship annually over the next four years, down from three per year.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter, in a Dec. 14 memo to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, told the Navy to "reduce the planned LCS/FF procurement from 52 to 40, creating a 1-1-1-1-2 profile, for eight fewer ships in the FYDP, and then downselect to one variant by FY 2019." FF is a Navy designation for frigate. Beginning with LCS 33, the Navy is planning to build a more heavily-armed LCS variant with the FF designation, the result of a 2014 directive from then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to produce a more powerful ship. The "1-1-1-1-2" profile would provide for one ship each year in 2017-2020 and two ships in 2021, the end of the current future years defense plan (FYDP).

Navy to make history when it commissions new
USS Little Rock next to its namesake at Canalside

By Lou Michel - BuffaloNews Staff Reporter
August 5, 2015

Two pages of history will be written when a sleek new combat vessel cruises into Canalside and is commissioned as the USS Little Rock beside its namesake.

The commissioning will mark the first time in modern Buffalo history a ship has been accepted into the U.S. Navy's fleet here, and the first time in Navy history that a ship has been commissioned beside a decommissioned ship bearing the same name, according to officials at the Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park.

And though the commissioning isn't expected to happen until December 2016 or May 2017, depending on the weather in the Great Lakes and on when the new USS Little Rock completes its trial runs in Lake Michigan, park officials say it will mark a proud day for Buffalo and the region.

"As the time gets closer, it will give us an opportunity to showcase a little bit of the history of the Navy and its ships, and we'll also be able to showcase the waterfront and really show off Buffalo," said John M. Branning, superintendent of ships at the park.

The new USS Little Rock, built in Marinette, Wis., near Green Bay, got its name after crew members from the old USS Little Rock persuaded Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus to assign the name to one of the Navy's newest warships.

The new Little Rock is an LCS, or Littoral Combat Ship, which means it will operate in waters close to shore. The ships have a helicopter launch pad, a ramp for small boats, and can be used by small assault forces.

"LCS is designed to satisfy the urgent requirement for shallow draft vessels to operate in the littoral (coastal waters) to counter growing potential 'asymmetric' threats of coastal mines, quiet diesel submarines and the potential to carry explosives and terrorists on small, fast, armed boats," according to

It wasn't exactly a hard sell to get Mabus on board with naming the new ship the Little Rock. He served as a junior officer on the USS Little Rock in 1971 and 1972 and is a long-standing member of the USS Little Rock Association, which gathered in Buffalo about two weeks ago for its annual reunion. Mabus was among the more than 200 former shipmates who attended.

The name of the original Little Rock and the new one, of course, pay tribute to Arkansas' capital city.

Initially Mabus kept association members guessing on whether he would keep the old ship's name alive. "When we presented this question regarding the naming of the ship to Secretary Mabus, he appeared to be skeptical, pointing out quite eloquently that there is a lot of political pressure in naming a ship. He genuinely left us with a question of whether it would happen,"said Art Tilley, the association''s webmaster and a guided missile technician on the ship in 1962 and 1963.

"I'm ecstatic, to say the least,"he added."This preserves the legacy of those who previously served on Little Rock." The original USS Little Rock began its service as a light cruiser in 1945, when World War II was coming to an end. In 1949, it was decommissioned, but it was recommissioned in 1960 as a guided missile cruiser, patrolling the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean and Mediterranean seas, before it was permanently taken out of service in 1976 and brought to Buffalo.

So what officially happens at a commissioning?

Unlike the christening of a ship, when a bottle of champagne is broken on the bow and the vessel is launched into the water for the first time, a naval commissioning represents the start of the ship's career.

"When the ship is commissioned, it is actually being brought into the United States Navy,"Branning said."It's when the Navy and its crew take charge of it. The commanding officer takes possession and his first order to the crew will be 'bring the ship to life.' Then the crew runs aboard."

It is expected that many members of the USS Little Rock Association will attend the commissioning. "Usually things like this do not happen in the lifetime of living ex-crew members,"Tilley said."Come hell or high water, I'm planning to be there. It's the culmination of a dream."

LITTLE ROCK is Christened at Marinette Marine

18 Jul 2015

Launch Ceremony Invitation

An official invitation to the Christening Ceremony

Storm Front         Storm Clouds

An hour before the start of the Christening Ceremony it was beginning to look as if the weather wouldn't cooperate.
False alarm! The weather was perfect.

Freedom Fleet Shore View                                  Freedom Fleet Air Viw

Two nice views of Marinette Marine. The LITTLE ROCK is furthest from the camera...  on the launching ways.
The two ships in the water are both Freedom Class ships, most likely DETROIT and MILWAUKEE.

Little Rock poised for launch

LITTLE ROCK  in full dress shortly before launching.

Access Ramp
Looking up the access ramp to the spot where the
champagne bottle is to be broken on LITTLE ROCK's bow.
Champagne Bottle Smash
LITTLE ROCK's sponsor Ms. Janee Bonner
breaks the "sacrificial" champagne bottle.

Bottle Hit Long View
LITTLE ROCK's sponsor Ms. Janee Bonner breaks
the bottle in one perfect swing!

Moments later the newly christened LITTLE ROCK slides down the ways
with a very impressive splash, and.....

Afloat at last
.... floats majestically in her new element.  All "Hail" LITTLE ROCK !!

The Boat Builders
Some of the proud workers from the Lockheed Martin / Marinette Marine Corporation team.

Well Done Folks!

LITTLE ROCK Mast Stepping Ceremony
- Sometimes referred to as the "Coin Ceremony"

23 Apr 2015

History / Purpose: Ceremony involves placing or welding one or more items into or under the mast of a ship, and is thought to bring good luck. Origins in the naval histories of the Vikings, Greeks and Romans .

Items typically used: Plaques, time capsules, coins,"challenge coins", boatswain's pipes, name tags (youngest / oldest crew members), uniform parts, coins representing hull number (year and or "value"), keys, parts from sister-ship, parts from other ship(s), personal mementos.

Long term significance: Historic connection to sister ship(s), builder / contractors, commissioning location, sponsor, crew member(s) past & future.

Mast Stepping Contributions
Mast Stepping contributions will be placed in the large container in the rear.
USS Little Rock Association contribution is small plastic container (3rd item from the right)

Mast Stepping Container
Mast Stepping Container with items inside prior to sealing.

MCPO Ken Mutzabaugh
Master Chief Ken Mutzabaugh describes the contents of the Association's contribution.
(Ken is the last of the "old" USS Little Rock crew still on Active Duty!)

Mast Stepping Operation 1
LCS 9 Mast being swung into position.
Mast Stepping Operation 2
LCS 9 Mast being lowered onto the ship.

Completing the installation of Little Rock's LCS 9 main mast on April 23, 2015 marking the latest milestone
in the ship's completion schedule. The 5,070-pound mast, standing 27'-10"tall, supports the ship's suite of
communication, navigation, and combat systems antennas and radars.

Photos and text are from the Spring 2015 issue of "The Beacon" a publication of Marinette Marine Corporation.


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