Austal has celebrated the metal cutting on the U.S> Navy’s fifteenth Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship, the future USS Canberra (LCS 30).
Austal LCS Program Director Dave Growden had the honour of starting the router to cut the first piece of aluminium, signaling the start of construction. Dave is a 30+ year Austal veteran who competed his apprenticeship in Henderson before transferring to the United States when the LCS program first started. Fittingly, Dave is a dual citizen of Australia and the United States.
The LCS is a 127 m frigate-sized vessel that is highly manoeuvrable, lethal and adaptable. The ship is designed to support focused mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare missions. The Independence-class LCS integrates new technology and capability to affordably support current and future capability of the US Navy, from deep water to littoral operations.
US President Donald Trump announced LCS 30 was to be named the USS Canberra in a joint press conference with then Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. The USS Canberra serves as a prime example of the close working relationship of the American-Australian alliance, with President Trump claiming “there is no closer friendship”.
The Austal designed and built Littoral Combat Ship is Australia’s biggest defence export. Nine ships are already in service with the U.S. Navy with the tenth to join shortly, having recently completed acceptance trials. With the start of construction of LCS 30, five vessels are in various stages of construction with an additional four vessels on order.
“The LCS is now the second-largest surface ship class in production. In 2018, five LCS were delivered to the US Fleet and three will be delivered in 2019, a pace of construction and delivery not seen in the United States since the 1990s,” Austal CEO David Singleton said.
“The team at Austal USA has cemented the company’s reputation in the United States for production efficiency and world leading technology in naval shipbuilding. It is a real honour for our company and the Littoral Combat Ship to represent the special relationship between Australia and the United States.”
At the time of the announcement Prime Minister Turnbull highlighted the importance of Austal USA to the US-Australia alliance. “The ship (USS Canberra) will be built by Austal in Mobile, Alabama, so you will have an Australian company with American workers, working and operating in the United States building ships for the US Navy,” he said.
The future USS Canberra’s sponsor is Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Marise Payne. A ship’s sponsor plays a unique role for the US Navy, becoming part of the ship’s history, as an honorary permanent member of the crew and advocate. The sponsor typically attends all milestone events of the ships, most notably the christening of the vessel where it receives its official name to enter service.
The role of the LCS is evolving as a key component in the US Navy’s ability to gain sea control through distributed lethality. Austal USA continues to deliver ships on time and on budget to support the needs of the fleet.
The Independence-class LCS, along with Austal USA’s highly successful Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF), is designed, constructed and well positioned to meet the needs of the fleet today and into the future. The flexibility and capacity of the Austal USA shipyard, the Independence-variant LCS, and the EPF are well suited to rapidly and efficiently support the Navy’s desired fleet of 355 ships with affordable solutions.