Navy's vessel of versatility

The log is still kept by hand using paper and pen, but that's about the only thing old school on the Navy's cutting edge ship Freedom.

The littoral combat ship, docked in Milwaukee this week for its commissioning, is drawing gawkers wondering why it looks so different from other Navy warships. It resembles a high-tech version of a Civil War era ironclad, at least from the front. The 377-foot vessel known as LCS-1 Freedom is the first of the Navy's new wave of ships designed to patrol close to shore - the meaning of littoral.

Built by Marinette Marine in northeastern Wisconsin, Freedom will be used within 200 miles of shorelines to neutralize pirates, mines and other threats. The key feature is the ability to switch quickly from....

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