USS Wichita (LCS-13) represents a modern United States Navy (USN) warship of the Freedom-class. The Freedom-class itself represents a modern, stealth-minded group of surface fighting vessel categorized as "littoral combat ships", tasked with operating near shorelines and supporting onshore actions from the sea. As such, these are multi-mission ships, though of relatively compact design with shallow draughts allowing for operations close-to-shore, capable of undertaking various roles as required. The Freedom-class, with their more conventional single-hulled design, is being constructed alongside the Independence-class littoral combat ships which rely on a trimaran hull arrangement.
USS Wichita is the seventh named ship of the Freedom-class which is expected to number thirteen total warships. Her builder's contract was awarded to Marinette Marine on March 4th, 2013 and her keel was laid down on February 9th, 2015. She was launched on September 17th, 2016 for fitting out and sea trials, awaiting her commissioning date as of this writing (2017).
In keeping with class design, USS Wichita displaces around 3,900 tons (short) and has a length of 378 feet with a beam of 57.4 feet and a draught down to 13 feet. Installed power consists of 2 x Rolls-Royce MT30 36MW gas turbines with 2 x Colt-Pielstick diesel-fueled engines and 4 x Rolls-Royce waterjets. This provides the vessel with a maximum speed of 45 knots in ideal conditions and a range out to 3,500 nautical miles. The ship can stay at-sea for up to 21 days with the available fuel stores and food supplies. The crew complement numbers 50 operating personnel and an additional 75 mission specialists.
Installed armament is such that the warship can handle threats originating from land, the air, the sea or under the sea. It is also a mix of conventional projectile weaponry as well as missiles. 1 x 57mm Mk 110 turreted deck gun is installed at the forecastle. She carries the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) as well and can engage sea threats through her Mark 50 torpedoes. Bushmaster 30mm chain guns are optional installations. Extreme close-in defense is provided for by 2 x 12.7mm heavy machine guns.
The warship has complete support facilities for up to 2 x Sikorsky MH-60R/S Seahawk series helicopters offering Over-the-Horizon (OtH) and built-in submarine-hunting capabilities - further expanding the potency of the vessel. Additionally, USS Wichita can operate the Northrop Grumman MQ-8 Fire Scout UAV helicopter.
August 2018 - USS Wichita (LCS-13) was officially taken into inventory (by way of ceremony) by the United States Navy on Wednesday 22nd, 2018 along with USS Sioux City.