Tourists, locals, and ex-Navy marines took a first glance at the brand new U.S.S. Freedom that sailed into the Charleston Harbor this week. As the speed-boat, combat ship gets ready to serve as a platform for launching and recovering manned and unmanned vehicles, right now it is being tested through open waters, ending in San Diego, California.
“This ship is well designed to do some very specific things that would help us with anti-piracy. 3,000 ton warship which can go 45 knotts, a little bit more than that, which is a little over 50 miles per hour, and that’s pretty amazing for a ship this size. It is very similar to a ski-boat on steroids you could say,” says Executive Officer Randy Garner.
The 377-foot Freedom is the first of its class and is designed to engage pirates and other combatants in shallow coastal waters. The combat ship will have a crew of only 40 sailors, as most of the work will be conducted through the ship’s technology and as for weapons, “The ship has two kinds of weaponry, and that’s the kind the ship is built with,” says Garner.
“But, some of the weapons that are on the ship right now are a 57mm gun, that’s about a little over two-inch gun, shoots a two-inch round, goes about five miles, and closer. Ideally suited for shooting at small boats. It also has a rolling-airframe missile launcher, which is really for our own self-defense against air contacts or missiles that might be within a few miles of us,” says Garner.
The ship has a modular design that allows it to be reconfigured for anti-submarine, anti-mine, and anti-surface warfare missions as needed.
The vessel will leave Charleston on Thursday.