June 3, 2005 The keel has been laid on the first Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), marking a significant milestone in production of the U.S. Navy's new class of surface combatant. Named FREEDOM the first LCS will be delivered to the Navy in late 2006. The Littoral Combat Ship is an innovative combatant designed to counter challenging shallow-water threats in coastal regions, specifically mines, diesel submarines and fast surface craft. A fast, agile, and networked surface combatant, LCS will utilise focused-mission packages that deploy manned and unmanned vehicles to execute a variety of missions.

"It was barely three years ago that we dared to dream of a new vision for our Navy's future," said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark. "Today that vision of American seapower will be welded into the keel of the very first Littoral Combat Ship - and that ship shall be called the United States Ship Freedom."

These new, fast and capable ships will increase the effectiveness of naval forces and provide an ability to dominate the world's coastal waters. LCS is an innovative combatant designed to counter challenging shallow-water threats in coastal regions, specifically mines, submarines and fast surface craft. The first keel was laid for a Lockheed Martin LCS design, a semi-planing steel monohull. In May 2004, the Department of Defense awarded both Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, separate contract options for final system design with options for detail design and construction of up to two LCS ships.