The U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin are planning to launch and christen the USS Wichita, a combat ship named after the city of Wichita, on Friday. The ship cost roughly $360 million dollars and took a year to build.
The USS Wichita is the third U.S. Navy ship named after Wichita. It's among six others named by the secretary of the Navy after small American cities and counties that embody American values.
Sean Patton, director of business development for Lockheed Martin, says the Wichita will be operating internationally for more than 30 years, representing both the United States and its namesake.
"This is an opportunity for the people of Wichita to have a formal relationship with the vessel and the men and women who are going to be sailing with it for generations," Patton says.
The USS Wichita it a littoral combat ship, able to operate effectively close to the shore. Patton says the ship is unique in its design that ensures that it's relevant as a workhorse of the fleet for years to come. Most importantly: that it's fast.
"It can go over 40 knots, which is about 50 miles an hour," Patton says. "And for a ship that's over 3000 tons, that's pretty fast."
The USS Wichita also has what Patton calls a "minimally-manned concept."
"The core crew is only 50, and a similar ship of its size would be around 230 folks," he says.
Another key aspect of the ship is that it's 40 percent reconfigurable, meaning electronics and other capabilities can be swapped out as technology evolves.
"For a ship that is designed to last 30 years, that's really a huge feature. As new technologies come onboard, as the Navy faces adversaries with evolving threat systems, we can sort of plug and play," Patton says. "Because it's an open architecture system for the electronics that are on board, it's much more cost effective."
It will take about a year to outfit the ship with electronics and weapons systems before the crew comes aboard at the end of 2017 before the USS Wichita is delivered to the Navy. It is expected to be commissioned in 2018.
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