One of the Navy's newest class of warship stopped in St. Petersburg over the weekend en route to its port city of San Diego, via the Panama Canal. The USS Independence is a new design of warship that gives it speed, in-shore maneuverability and can function in myriad ways instead of a single-dimension ship. By that I mean it can launch helicopters, Stryker missiles, jettison SEAL/covert ops teams, offload Humvees and when finished can leave the shore areas at 51 mph. The Independence is one of the first in a new class of littoral combat ships. It's designed to navigate in shallow areas near coasts. It can be outfitted for several different missions, including mine, submarine or surface warfare.
That's damn fast for a 418 foot warship.
Independence is intended as a small assault transport that can take on various capabilities with the installation of mission modules. The ship is a trimaran design that can make more than 40 knots (74 km/h; 51 mph), and was delivered to the Navy at the end of 2009.
Looking at the beast one might think that it has a complement of perhaps 200 sailors, but in actuality, the Independence has 8 officers and 32 seamen. 40 people! And guess what else, the ship no longer has a wheel like most ships, but is controlled by joysticks. This ship is one cool looking guy and looks mean as Hell, too.
The trimaran design is a whole new concept for the Navy and is projected to go more for the smaller more flexible ships rather than the large outmoded ships we are used to seeing.
Anyway, we went to check her out this past weekend and it was totally awesome. Here are some pictures. Oh, and by the way, the angled sides help mask detection by radar.
Notice the trimaran design. You could actually ride a smaller boat in between the outer and main shells of the ship.
I'd hate to be in charge of replacing the windshield wiper blades.
The Independence is 418 feet long.
This is where they off load anything from trucks, personnel carriers and that rubber-type boat is for amphibious activity.
It can handle 2 Sea Stallion helicopters.
From this angle it looks like Darth Vader.
Port security was aided by two small St. Pete Coast Police boats. I don't really think anyone wants to mess with this guy.
It seems quaint to see a Ship's Bell on the most modern ship in the fleet.
(The following pictures and video were not taken by me.)