Aboard the USS Independence -- It doesn't really look like anything you've ever seen, and while its's capabilities are still far form proven--or even fully understood, even by the Navy--I have to admit that walking up the dock to the brand new Littoral Combat Ship USS Independence this morning in Key West, Florida, was a pretty cool experience.
Since the ship is still very much a work in progress—with some systems remaining unfinished and the crew still training up on how everything will work—Captain Curt Renshaw joked that “we’re like the Death Star” since that famous vessel wasn’t fully operational, either. Speaking to a small group of reporters on the ship's flight deck before getting underway, Renshaw said that the plans for the next two days are to take it “from zero to ten” knots as quickly as it can go for dynamic response testing, drop anchor for the first time, conduct air defense testing, “crash back” deceleration, and for the first time putting one of its fast boats in the water while at sea. The ship only has about 20 days at sea under its belt so far, and aboard on this leg of its voyage are about 40 sailors, including 13 from the Gold Crew. At this point, Renshaw said, “we’re at risk mitigation,” and the purpose of the training exercises on this trip are to start training crew to “get tactical.”
USS Independence this morning in Key West, Fl. (Pics: Paul McLeary)