The second hull-form of the Littoral Combat Ship class was launched a few days ago in the Austal Shipyard in Mobile, Alabama (Mobile is turning into quite the military manufacturing base when you think about these ships and these ships, existing shipbuilding capabilities and the new Air Force tanker).
Looking unlike anything that had graced the seven seas, at least with the US Navy, the three-hulled trimaran floated off its blocks in its drydock on 29 April. Further work and outfitting needs to be completed, but from the looks of it, it will be one wild looking ship as it bears down on a pirate dhow off the horn of Africa.
Why do we need these new littoral-capable ships? From the Program Executive Office for Ships:
In developing capability to overcome access denial threats from surface and subsurface threats in the littoral, the Navy sought improved mine warfare capability, an effective counter to small, fast, highly-armed boats, and a ship better suited against quiet diesel submarines. These capabilities highlighted the need for a high-speed, shallow-draft vessel with endurance. The littoral combat ships are designed to meet that need.
Any way you cut it, having this improved and increased capability in the littoral regions close to shore will expand the toolkit available to the Joint Force Commander regarding available military options. I'm looking forward to seeing this new ship at work.