On 5 April the U.S. Navy commissioned its newest littoral combat ship into the Fleet. The USS Coronado (LCS-4) is the second of the Independence class to enter service, joining older sister Independence and two units of the Freedom class. Built by Austal shipyard at Mobile, Alabama, the Coronado completed acceptance trials last year and was handed over on 27 September 2013. Once delivered, the ship sailed to Mayport, Florida, and conducted equipment checks, additional testing, and crew-certification training while making visits to Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay and ports in Colombia and Panama. On 10 March she arrived at her new home port of San Diego, California, to prepare for commissioning and service with the Navy’s 3rd Fleet. With a length of 417 feet, beam of 100 feet, and draft of 15 feet, the 3,000-ton Independence-class LCS is based on a fast commercial ferry; the design includes an aluminum trimaran hull with a large flight deck, helicopter hangar, and reconfigurable mission bay.
By Eric Wertheim