Surface Forces: April 20, 2002


: The US Navy is to start construction of its newest and strangest warship design by the end of the year, with the one prototype to be in service by 2004. Known as the Littoral Surface Craft Experimental (LSC-X), it is to be an advanced catamaran able to operate at high speed (50 knots, or 90 kilometers an hour) in very shallow water, drawing only 3m when on its lifting bodies. The object is not an operational warship, but a technology demonstration that would allow open ocean testing of such designs. Eventually, the Navy wants to build a class of active warships of this type able to operate close to shore where gun and missile battles at short range are particularly deadly. Such a ship would be designed for three missions: fighting "swarms" of small craft, hunting submarines in water only 200m deep, and dealing with mines in the surf zone. The LSC-X will have only a small crew and is not intended for operational deployments or combat, but is more a full-scale test body to see just how ships like this work in full scale in a real ocean.--Stephen V Cole




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