The U.S. Navy has commissioned its newest Independence-variant littoral combat ship, the USS Charleston (LCS 18), during a ceremony on March 2 at Charleston, South Carolina’s Columbus Street Terminal.
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott delivered the commissioning ceremony’s principal address. Charlotte Riley, wife of former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, served as the ship’s sponsor. The ceremony was highlighted by a time-honored Navy tradition when Mrs. Riley gave the first order to “man our ship and bring her to life!”
LCS-18 is the 16th littoral combat ship to enter the fleet and the ninth of the Independence variant. The ship is the sixth to be named after Charleston, South Carolina, to honor a long history, from the decades of work at the Charleston Naval Shipyard to Charleston Marine Container, Inc., building mission modules for the littoral combat ship program today.
Cmdr. Christopher K. Brusca, a native of Los Angeles is the commanding officer of the ship and leads the core crew of 70 officers and enlisted personnel. The ship will now transit to join Littoral Combat Ship Squadron 1 and 10 other littoral combat ships currently homeported at Naval Base San Diego.
The 3,200-ton Charleston was built by was built by General Dynamics/Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama. The ship is 421 feet in length, has a beam of 103 feet, and a navigational draft of 15 feet. The ship is powered by two gas turbine engines, two main propulsion diesel engines, and four waterjets to speeds up to 40-plus knots.
The littoral combat ship is a fast, agile, mission-focused platform designed to operate in near-shore environments, while capable of open-ocean tasking and winning against 21st-century coastal threats such as submarines, minesa and swarming small craft. They are capable of supporting forward presence, maritime security, sea control and deterrence.
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, Marinette, Wis., (for the odd-numbered hulls). The Independence variant team is led by Austal USA, Mobile, Alabama, (for LCS 6 and the subsequent even-numbered hulls).