NORFOLK, Va. — There was a treat for people who attended Friday's Norfolk Harborfest Parade of Sail. For the first time, they got to get a glimpse of a Navy Littoral Combat Ship.
The Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship USS Sioux City made its way through a busy Elizabeth River.
The $362 million LCS is a relatively inexpensive surface combatant equipped with modular mission packages designed for operations near the shore. It's fast and agile close-in, yet also capable of open-ocean operations. The ship's top speed is 45 knots — the fastest surface combatant in the fleet.
"We're at the cutting edge of technology," said CDR Kevin O'Brien, the ship's commanding officer. "We have a shallow draft that provides access to ports around the world and in our county, but we're also really maneuverable. If folks saw us at Harborfest, south of Nauticus, we were like a big jet ski."
But, the LCS program has been controversial over the years due to past cost growth, design and construction issues with the first LCS's.
The Government Accountability Office in 2015 noted: "The lethality and survivability of the Littoral Combat Ship is still largely unproven."
Still, the Navy plans on building 35 LCS's before transitioning to the next-generation frigates; 17 are currently in service, with six more set to be commissioned by the end of the year.
Sioux City's skipper is sold on the ship.
"And the LCS will absolutely provide options for the combatant commander," he said.
Free Public tours aboard the ship will take place both Saturday and Sunday from noon until 5 p.m.
The ship is tied up alongside the Peter G. Decker, Jr. Half Moon Cruise Terminal on the Elizabeth River, next to Nauticus and the Battleship Wisconsin.