Burned LCS to Resume Testing

The littoral combat ship Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Coronado (LCS 4) is rolled-out at the Austal USA assembly bay.

There were no injuries and only minor damage to littoral combat ship Coronado following a small on-board fire this past Friday off the coast of Mobile, Ala., Navy officials confirm.

The Coronado, due to be commissioned this summer, was getting ready to do a high-powered run in the Gulf of Mexico when crew members noticed smoldering and smoke on the starboard side of the ship, a service official explained.

"The lagging near or around the engine began to smolder. The same thing occurred when they did a test on the port side. There was only minor damage and the ship returned to port under its own power. The minor damage was to the lagging, which is part of the insulation for the ship," the official added.

The littoral combat ship came back into port over the weekend and is slated to resume formal testing over the next several days. Although a formal investigation is currently underway, there is no official word yet as to what caused the fire. Defense News broke the story Sunday.

The Coronado is to be the fourth in a series of LCS' planned by the Navy. It is engineered to be a high-tech, near-shore vessel capable of a range of key missions to include anti-mine missions, undersea and surface warfare, Navy officials said.

"The ship is being built at the Austal ship yard, Mobile, Ala. They do the builder's trials after the ship is constructed. The builder does the trials to make sure it meets the requirements and the specs, so they do all their tests on it. Once the Navy and the contractor are happy, then the Navy takes delivery of it," the Navy official explained.

Once development is complete, the ship will be based at homeport Naval Base San Diego.

Overall, the Navy has as many as 20 littoral combat ships on contract for construction by 2015. Contracts were awarded to Lockheed Martin and Austal USA on December 29, 2010, for the construction of up to 10 ships, according to the Navy.

"The LCS is high speed, agile and mission focused. It's capable of near-shore, open ocean and multi-mission platforms. It is a complimentary capability for the Navy's overall fleet. Its inherent capability to conduct these kinds of missions frees up the more expensive multi-mission cruisers and destroyers," said Lt. Courtney Hillson, a Navy spokeswoman.

With its mission packages, the LCS brings additional capabilities in a range of areas, including anti-mine missions, she added.

"LCS and its mission packages will deliver enhanced capability currently provided by guided-missile frigates, mine countermeasures ships, and patrol coastal ships - many of which will decommission over the next several years. Designed to employ modular mission packages, LCS can be configured for three separate purposes: surface warfare, mine countermeasures, or anti-submarine warfare," Hillson added

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