MARINETTE - The highest ranking officer in the U.S. Navy paid a visit to Marinette Marine Wednesday afternoon.
The Chief of Naval Operations toured the construction of the Navy's fleet of Littoral Combat Ships.
"This class of ship is so important to us, for its modularity, its speed, its volume," said Adm. Jonathan Greenert.
Greenert gave the LCS operations at Marinette Marine a thumbs up.
"I'm very very impressed, even with the changes we're dealing with in construction, and the feedback we're getting with the fleet," the Admiral explained.
The admiral toured the facility with company officials Wednesday afternoon.
For the first time at Marinette Marine, four Littoral Combat Ships are under construction at the same time. The Detroit is scheduled to be launched next year. The Milwaukee is set to be launched at the end of this year.
The shipyard has a multi-billion-dollar contract to build ten ships. Overall, the program has created hundreds of jobs.
"It's really our future here. This whole facility was upgraded, the $74 million investment from (Marinette Marine parent company) Fincantieri was made to build two of these ships a year," explained Marinette Marine Corporation President & CEO Chuck Goddard.
However, the LCS program hasn't been immune to scrutiny, including some congressional reviews.
"It's really not about the quality of the workmanship, I think the questions is what, the decisions the Navy made to build this type of ship, the decisions we collectively made as to how we were going to build them in sequence, to design and changes, that's not unusual," Greenert said. "We need to take them deliberately and seriously and we are in as much of a partnership as we can with the General Accounting Office."
Officials say there have been some recent mechanical issues with the Navy's first LCS, the USS Freedom.
But despite some hurdles, the Admiral is optimistic about the program's future.
"I came here to see how are the changes coming around, what is the relationship more long term, we're only in the starting pieces of this long program," Greenert explained.
The House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the LCS program Thursday morning in Washington D.C.
As for the mechanical issues on the USS Freedom, Naval officials tell FOX 11 repairs have been made and the ship is up and running.
USS Freedom, the U.S. Navy's first LCS, is deployed to Southeast Asia. USS Forth Worth (LCS 3) is based in San Diego, Calif. Milwaukee (LCS 5), Detroit (LCS 7), Little Rock (LCS 9) and Sioux City (LCS 11) are under construction.
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