Austal USA delivered the ninth Independence-variant littoral combat ship (LCS), the future USS Charleston (LCS 18), to the U.S. Navy, on Aug. 31.
The future USS Charleston (LCS 18) will be the sixteenth LCS to enter the fleet and the third LCS delivered by Austal this year. The vessel successfully completed its acceptance trials in the Gulf of Mexico, on July 19, after a series of in-port and underway demonstrations for the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV).
“The Austal team is excited to provide our great Sailors with another incredible warship,” said Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle. “The patriotic spirit and dedication of Austal’s talented employees, the excellent teamwork with our Navy customer and industry suppliers and the full support of our local, state, and federal legislators have all combined to bring about a mature and successful LCS program.”
Continued Perciavalle. “Knowing the important roll these awesome ships, that were built right here at Austal in Mobile, Alabama, will play in our future 355-ship Navy gives us an amazing sense of pride.”
Following commissioning, Charleston will be homeported in San Diego with her sister ships USS Freedom (LCS 1), USS Independence (LCS 2), USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), USS Coronado (LCS 4), USS Jackson (LCS 6), USS Montgomery (LCS 8), USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10), USS Omaha (LCS 12), USS Manchester (LCS 14) and the future USS Tulsa (LCS 16), which was delivered in April.
Five LCS remain under construction at Austal’s Alabama shipyard. Future USS Cincinnati (LCS 20) is preparing for sea trials. Assembly is underway on future USS Kansas City (LCS 22) and future USS Oakland (LCS 24) and modules for future USS Mobile (LCS 26) and future USS Savannah (LCS 28) are under construction. Construction on future USS Canberra (LCS 30) is scheduled to begin in early 2019.
Seven Independence-variant LCS are currently homeported in San Diego. “Austal is pleased with the feedback we have received from the Navy regarding the work these ships are doing on the West coast,” said Perciavalle.
More than 700 suppliers in 40 states contribute to the Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship program.
Austal is also under contract to build 12 Expeditionary Fast Transport vessels (EPF) for the U.S. Navy. The company has delivered nine EPFs while an additional two are in various stages of construction.
Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)
LCS is a modular, reconfigurable ship designed to meet validated fleet requirements for surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare and mine countermeasures missions in the littoral region.
An interchangeable mission package is embarked on each LCS and provides the primary mission systems in one of these warfare areas. Using an open architecture design, modular weapons, sensor systems and a variety of manned and unmanned vehicles to gain, sustain and exploit littoral maritime supremacy, LCS provides U.S. joint force access to critical theaters.
The LCS class consists of the Freedom variant and Independence variant, designed and built by two industry teams. The Freedom variant team is led by Lockheed Martin (for the odd-numbered hulls, e.g., LCS 1). The Independence variant team is led by Austal USA (for LCS 6 and follow-on even-numbered hulls).
Future USS Charleston is the the eighth of the Independence variant LCS. The Independence variant is noted for its unique trimaran hull and its large flight deck.