The United States Navy will add a brand new warship to its fleet this weekend: The USS Little Rock.
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The ceremony will take place in Buffalo, New York on Saturday, with 9,000 people expected to attend, according to local reports.
The ship was built in Marinette, Wisconsin and is known as a Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), which is a new class of small vessels intended to operate close to the shore. These combat ships can be used for surface warfare, drug and counter piracy operations, mine and submarine detection and neutralization, as well as other first response activities. LCS vessels are quick and agile, allowing them to perform these tasks efficiently. They are also designed for rapid transitions between different types of missions, which can take as little as 24 hours, and require minimal manning.
The Navy has 32 LCS ships either built or in the works, according to its website. Lockheed Martin (LMT) and Austal USA won contracts to build the two variants of LCS vessels, known as the Independence and Freedom models.
The USS Little Rock, a Freedom variant, cost $440 million to build. The ship, built by Lockheed, stretches 387 feet in length and weighs 15 times more than the Statue of Liberty. It can travel more than 46 miles per hour. This ship also has a helicopter pad and a ramp for small boats so that it can be used by assault forces.
The USS Little Rock was first commissioned during World War II as a light cruiser and then again in 1960 as a guided missile cruiser. It was taken out of service the second time in 1976.