Business Council of Alabama member Austal USA at its Mobile shipyard on Saturday christened the nation’s 22nd Littoral Combat Ship, the future USS Kansas City.
The ship’s sponsor, Tracy Davidson, wife of Admiral Phil Davidson, USN, commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, joined by local and national officials and Austal USA employees at Austal USA’s final assembly bay, broke the champagne bottle over the bow of the newest LCS, the 11th Independence-class LCS the company has under contract with the Navy.
“Today marks a significant milestone with the christening of this amazing warship,” Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle said in a statement. “Our talented shipbuilding team is proud to provide our Navy with an extraordinarily capable vessel that will honor Kansas City as she becomes an integral part of the U.S. naval fleet protecting our nation.”
The christening was just one event in a fantastic year for the defense contractor, which has christened 10 Expeditionary Fast Transport ships and 11 LCSs. Austal USA typically hosts two combat ship christenings a year.
Austal USA plans to host the USNS Puerto Rico(EPF 10) christening ceremony in November, and in December, Austal USA will lay the keel for the USS Mobile(LCS 26) at Mobile.
On Sept. 18, Austal USA was awarded contract modifications surpassing $1 billion from the U.S. Navy to build two additional Independence-variant LCSs, 32 and 34. “To be awarded these Independence-variant contracts in such a highly competitive environment is a great honor,” Perciavalle said.
The specific value of each contract is under the congressional cost cap of $584 million per ship. Construction of LCS 32 is scheduled to begin in 2019. Austal said it continues to reduce cost and deliver on schedule, handing over three Independence-variant LCSs to the Navy this year, all below the congressional cost cap.
The Independence-variant LCS is a “high-speed, agile, shallow draft, focused-mission surface combatant designed to conduct Surface Warfare, Anti-Submarine Warfare, and Mine Countermeasures missions in the littoral region. With its open architecture design, the LCS can support modular weapons, sensor systems and a variety of manned and unmanned vehicles to capture and sustain littoral maritime supremacy,” Austal USA said.
The LCS is a key component to the Navy’s ability to gain sea control through distributed lethality and, along with the highly-successful EPF program, positions Austal USA to rapidly and efficiently support the Navy’s desired fleet of 355 ships with affordable solutions, Austal USA said.
With eight LCSs and nine EPFs already delivered, Austal-built ships are impacting worldwide operations. “We will continue to build these ships in a safe and timely manner with the quality and craftsmanship that Austal has come to be known for,” Perciavalle said.
Austal delivered the future USS Charleston(LCS 18) to the Navy last month, the third Independence-variant LCS delivered to the Navy this year and the 16thLCS to enter the fleet. Austal is scheduled to deliver USNS Burlington(EPF 10) before Dec. 31.
In May, Austal USA christened LCS 20, the future USS Cincinnati.
Also in May, Austal announced it had acquired ElectraWatch, which develops and deploys portable probe devices that help efficiently maintain aluminum structures.
In April, Austal USA delivered the future USS Tulsa(LCS 16), its eighth Independence-variant LCS, to the U.S. Navy at Austal’s yard in Mobile.
And in February, Austal USA delivered the future USS Manchester(LCS 14) to the Navy. “The efficiency at which we’re delivering these ships is world class, and a testament to the incredible skill and hard work of the best shipbuilding professionals in the country,” Perciavalle said.
LCS 14 later sailed to Portsmouth, home of her commissioning site. She is homeported in San Diego.
Austal USA, headquartered in Mobile with facilities in San Diego, Singapore and Washington, D.C., employs about 4,000 people who design and construct Independence-variant LCSs and EPFs. Austal USA’s supplier network includes nearly 1,200 companies across 44 states and Guam supporting more than 34,000 U.S. jobs. It’s the fifth largest shipbuilder in North America