It marks the first new ship design in decades dedicated to coastal, as opposed to blue sea operations. It is designed to address most of the urgent gaps in the U.S. Navy: mine warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and interdiction of smaller or unarmed ships. It is basically a concept ship, in a two design contest.
The Freedom looks like a speedboat on steriods. The second LCS, the Independence, will be a 419-foot trimaran.
Once each team makes two ships, the plan is for the Navy to decide on one of the designs and purchase dozens of them, at about a fifth of the cost of most of the surface combatants in the existing fleet.