Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs) were developed by the United States Navy (USN) for work near the shore (covering coastline, beach, nearshore and offshore environments).This led to two distinct classes being created to fulfill the role - the Freedom-class and the Independence-class. While the Freedom-class was given a rather conventional layout (though with a very stealthy appearance), the Independence-class was based on a trimaran hull design. Beyond their stealthy qualities and advanced onboard systems, a key feature of the ship types is their modularity which helps a single ship fulfill various roles and sub-roles as needed - be they mine warfare, Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), general surface warfare, etc...
The Independence-class is akin to a corvette warship offering speed, agility and compact dimensions for its given role. USS Coronado (LCS-4) is one of the class and her contract was awarded on May 1st, 2009 to Austal USA. Her keel was laid down on December 17th of that year and the vessel was launched on January 14th, 2012. She was commissioned for service in the USN on April 5th, 2014 and currently maintains an active presence in the USN fleet.
Thirteen Independence-class ships are planned to go along with thirteen Freedom-class warships for a total of twenty-six vessels.
Coronado's profile is unique - the bow is chined, well-pointed and slim with a turret being the only obvious protrusion. Aft of this section is the main superstructure which integrates the bridge as well as the low-profile mast work. A hangar area is also integrated into the backside of the superstructure and a heli-deck takes up the space over the stern. Angled sides are featured heavily in the Independence-class design, giving the vessels a very futuristic appearance (and aiding in its stealthiness).
As built, Coronado displaces 2,300 tons under light loads and 3,100 tons under full loads. She holds a length of 418 feet with a beam of 104 feet and a draught of 14 feet - (the latter quality being utterly important for offshore work). Installed power is 2 x General Electric LM2500 gas turbines with 4 x Diesel generators driving 2 x shafts. 4 x waterjets and a retractable Azimuth thruster allow for fine-tuned maneuvering. The warship can make headway at speeds over 40 knots with an operational range out to nearly 5,000 miles.
Aboard is a crew of 75 with forty of these personnel making up her core operating component (the rest are mission specialists). Systems include the "Sea Giraffe" 3D surface-air radar fit, the "Bridgemaster-E" navigational radar and the AN/KAX-2 EO-IR sensor. She carries 4 x BAe Systems Mark 36 SRBOC rapid bloom chaff launchers as countermeasures.
Her primary conventional armament is a turreted 57mm BAe Systems Mk 110 series deck gun. 4 x 12.7mm Heavy Machine Guns (HMGs) are carried for extreme-close-in work. Her missile component is made up of an 11-cell Evolved SeaRAM launcher unit firing the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) - a short-ranged defense weapon. A 2 x 30mm chain gun module is also noted as is future support for the AGM-114 Hellfire missile.
Beyond her installed armament, USS Coronado is cleared to retrieve and launch a pair of Sikorsky MH-60R "Seahawk" medium helicopters (or similar) from her stern deck. The warship also holds provision for operating the MQ-8 "Fire Scout" rotary-wing Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). These implements provide excellent over-the-horizon reconnaissance and tracking services. The helicopters can also be outfitted with Anti-Ship and Anti-Submarine equipment to further broaden the tactical reach of the ship.
After completion and christening, USS Coronado experience a pair of onboard fires that delayed her entry into service. During 2014 many of her systems were trialed under live conditions and she took on a contingent of Marines during a deployment exercise. In October of 2014 she conducted testing for the MQ-8B UAS.
In July of 2016, USS Coronado took part in RIMPAC ("Rim of the Pacific") - the large maritime exercise in Pacific waters involving dozens of U.S.-allied participants from around the world.
- Amphibious Operations Support
- Blue Water Operations
- Fleet Support
418 ft (127.41 m)
104 ft (31.70 m)
4.27 ft (1.30 m)
41 kts (47 mph)
4,258 nm (4,900 miles; 7,886 km)
1 x 57mm Mk 110 turreted deck gun
1 x 11-cell Evolved SeaRAM anti-aircraft missile
4 x 12.7mm Browning M2 heavy machine guns
2 x 30mm chain guns (module)
AGM-114 Hellfire missile support
Naval Strike Missile (NSM) support
2 x Sikorsky MH-60 Seahawk naval helicopters
1 x Northrop Grumman MQ-8 Fire Scout rotary-wing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).