Speed, maneuverability key features of USS Detroit

Jim Lynch
The Detroit News

Marinette, Wisc. — The U.S. Navy pulled back the curtain on the latest ship in a new breed of military vessel — one that bears a familiar name.

This is the bridge of the USS Detroit.

In three weeks, the USS Detroit will arrive in its namesake city for several days of public tours before commissioning ceremonies on Oct. 22. Ahead of its arrival, Navy and Lockheed Martin officials provided a tour Tuesday at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard where the $440 million ship was built.

For those who will make the trip to Detroit to see it, the ship offers something they’ve likely never seen before. The USS Detroit is a littoral combat ship designed to operate and thrive in shallow waters near the coast, ports, inlets and rivers. It is all about speed and maneuverability.

Sean Patton, Lockheed Martin’s director of littoral ship systems, said older Navy vessels looking to intercept drug runners or even pirates have often been thwarted by an inability to chase into shallow waters.

“Now, we’re able to go anywhere we need to,” he said.

The USS Detroit, nearest, is seen at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard Tuesday.

To achieve maneuverability, designers have installed engines from Rolls-Royce to power four water jets that propel the ship. They’re the same kind of engines that power a Boeing 777 plane and they allow the ship to reach speeds of up to 45 knots. That means no rudders and no propellers.

“The ship is quite unique,” USS Detroit Commander Michael Desmond said. “This is the fastest ship in the Navy. And soon, the USS Detroit will be newest ship in the Navy.”

Its other strength is adaptability. The ship is capable of modifying up to 40 percent of its space to adapt to mission requirements.

Ben Capuco of Gibbs & Cox, chief architect on the project, said there are some modernized features of the USS Detroit that former Navy personnel might find enviable. With a maximum crew capacity of about 100, there will be less fighting for space.

The Detroit can be outfitted, in as little as 96 hours, with modules designed for:

■Anti-submarine operations

■Anti-surface ship operations

■Anti-mine operations

“Typically, Navy ships have living spaces for the crew, or berthing areas, where 20 guys are in the same space,” Capuco said. “We tried to limit the spaces to six-man or four-man berthing compartments. It’s a little nicer for them.”

Berthing compartments also will provide internet access. And unlike most Navy vessels, the USS Detroit’s galley and eating area are physically separated.

“Some (Navy retirees) probably have nightmares about chipping paint while serving on board older vessels,” Capuco said. “That doesn’t happen with this ship. The crew are too busy doing their mission jobs. With this ship, a lot of that maintenance happens in the shipyard.”

Once production of LCS vessels are complete, they are expected to make up one-third of the entire Navy surface fleet.


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Destination Detroit

The USS Detroit will be in its namesake city next month for its commissioning ceremony.

Public tours of the ship will be available Oct. 15-21. The USS Detroit will be anchored along the Riverwalk outside the Renaissance Center.

The official commissioning ceremony will be at 11 a.m. Oct. 22 along the Riverwalk outside the Renaissance Center.