Austal Lays Keel for U.S. Navy Littoral Combat Ship Future USS Santa Barbara (LCS-32)

Austal laid the keel for the U.S. Navy’s 16th Independence-class littoral combat ship, the future USS Santa Barbara (LCS-32) at its facility in Mobile, Alabama on Oct. 27.

Lolita Zinke, the ship’s sponsor, authenticated the keel in a small ceremony, with limited attendance due to health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. As Santa Barbara’s sponsor, Zinke serves as an advocate and honorary member of the crew.

David Growden, vice president of Small Surface Combatant Programs, Austal USA; and Cmdr. Kris Netemeyer, LCS program manager’s representative, Supervisor of Shipbuilding Gulf Coast Detachment, spoke at the ceremony.

“Through this new warship and the name she bears, we honor a city that represents the very best of the American spirit,” said Capt. Mike Taylor, LCS program manager. “We set forth the Santa Barbara armed with the most adaptive and effective capabilities, designed to defend the United States.”

The future USS Santa Barbara is named in honor of Santa Barbara, California and is the third Navy ship to bear the name. Austal started the construction of the vessel in November last year.

The vessel will be 421 feet long with a beam length of 103.7 feet and be capable of operating at speeds in excess of 40 knots.

Three additional Independence-variant ships are under construction at Austal USA shipyard. Final assembly is well under way on Savannah (LCS 28) and the modules for Canberra (LCS 30) are being erected. Additionally, Austal has started fabrication of modules for Augusta (LCS 34). The next two ships in the class, Kingsville (LCS 36) and Pierre (LCS 38) will begin fabrication in 2021.

LCS is a highly maneuverable, lethal and adaptable ship designed to support focused mine countermeasures, anti-submarine and surface warfare missions. The Independence-variant LCS integrates new technology and capability to affordably support current and future missions, from deep water to the littorals.

The LCS class consists of two variants, the Freedom-variant, and the Independence-variant, designed and built by two industry teams. The Freedom-variant team is led by Lockheed Martin (for the odd-numbered hulls). The Independence-variant team is led by Austal USA (for LCS 6 and the subsequent even-numbered hulls).

LCS is now the second-largest surface ship class in production, behind the Navy’s DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyer program. This is until the new Constellation-class  (formerly FFG(X)) frigates begin construction. In 2019, three LCSs were delivered to the fleet and four will be delivered in 2020 — a shipbuilding pace not seen since the 1990s.

GULF OF MEXICO (July 12, 2009) The U.S. Navy littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS 2) underway during her builder’s trials. (Photo courtesy Dennis Griggs General Dynamics/Released)

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