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USS Independence uses aluminium trimaran hull

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Alcoa Defense
: 18 January, 2010  (Application Story)
Unique hull design for vessels destined to protect coastal and littoral waters constructed from Alcoa Defense aluminium delivering lightweight manoeuvrability
Alcoa Defense, a Defence industry supplier of aluminium, titanium and other light alloys, has hailed the commissioning of the first General Dynamics Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the USS Independence. Designed and built by a team led by General Dynamics and Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama, the ship’s all-aluminium trimaran hull allows it to be faster and more agile than a conventional Navy ship. The ship’s amahs, or side pontoons, provide buoyant support on each side of the vessel’s centre hull and give it maximum stability, even when turning at high speeds.

“Through our work with Austal, we are helping to make the General Dynamics LCS lighter, faster and stronger,” said Dave Dobson, president, Alcoa Defense. “We provide design and engineering support for the General Dynamics LCS as well as the Lockheed Martin LCS. Alcoa Defense enhances their vessels by maximizing the performance of light alloys.”

The USS Independence is one of two rival designs for a revolutionary new class of high-speed, affordable warships with multi-mission capabilities. The other LCS design, the USS Freedom from Lockheed Martin, was commissioned on November 8, 2008. Both ships make use of aluminium, which helps ensure high-speed operations, a shallow draft, and increased manoeuvrability in potentially dangerous coastal environments in which they will operate. The USS Freedom has an all-aluminium superstructure and steel hull, and the Navy is planning to deploy her two years earlier than planned.

Additionally, through partnerships with subcontractors, Alcoa Defense is helping to streamline the manufacturing process for the General Dynamics LCS and the Lockheed Martin LCS, while simultaneously making aluminium shipbuilding more affordable. Most lead supply contracts have not yet been finalized for either of the LCS ships.

The USS Independence is a 416-foot (127-meter) trimaran, with a massive centre hull and two side hulls that increase its stability and give it a 7,300-square-foot flight deck -- nearly twice the size of that on the larger DDG-51 destroyer. Built for use in coastal or littoral waters, the ship can reach sprint speeds of more than 45 knots (52 mph).
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