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April 12. 2013 1:01AM

Critics want to sink warship to be named for Manchester


The future USS Freedom (LCS 1), the first ship in the U.S. Navy's new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) class, undergoes builder's trials on Lake Michigan near Marietta, Wisconsin in this picture taken July 28, 2008. LCS is a focused-mission ship designed to defeat threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft. The 378-foot future USS Freedom is being designed and built by a Lockheed Martin-led industry team. (Reuters)

The littoral combat ship Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Coronado (LCS 4) is rolled-out at the Austal USA assembly bay. Coronado is scheduled to be christened Jan. 14, 2012 and will undergo sea trials later this year. This is the LCS version of the future USS Manchester. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy Austal USA)
MANCHESTER - A Naval ship that has been criticized as inadequate by a top Navy commander will be christened after the city of Manchester.

The USS Manchester will be a Littoral Combat Ship, which according to the Navy is: "a fast, agile, focused-mission platform designed for operation in near-shore environments yet capable of open-ocean operation. It is designed to defeat asymmetric anti-access threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft."

However, in a report in Bloomberg News late last month, the ship was criticized in a classified memo by Vice Admiral Tom Copeman, who called on the Navy to consider changes that would make the ship more capable offensively. Two types of the ship, one steel-hulled and an aluminum trimaran version, are being built. It wasn't clear Thursday night whether the USS Manchester would be steel-hulled or aluminum.

In January, J. Michael Gilmore, the Defense Department's director of operational test and evaluation, released a report that, in part, said the ship "is not expected to be survivable in a hostile combat environment."

The Bloomberg News report said critics inside the Navy have called the ship the "Little Crappy Ship."

A report prepared earlier this month by Ronald O'Rourke, specialist in Naval Affairs for the Congressional Research Service, said that the ship's cost had swelled from an original estimate of $220 million per ship to $537 million or more than $653 million per ship, depending on the type built.

U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire each issued press releases on Thursday applauding the announcement that one of the ships would be named after the Queen City. Each said U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus personally called them to inform them of the naming.

Their offices released a joint statement saying: "It is a tremendous honor for a ship to be named after Manchester. The LCS has had challenges worth congressional attention, and we will certainly continue to provide it, but that doesn't take away from the fact that this is a great tribute."



tbuckland@unionleader.com

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