The 421’6″x103.7′ Manchester (LCS 14), the seventh Independence-variant littoral combat ship (LCS) built by Austal USA, successfully completed acceptance trials Dec. 15 in the Gulf of Mexico.
The achievement involved the execution of intense comprehensive tests by the Austal-led industry team while underway, which demonstrated to the Navy the successful operation of the ship’s major systems and equipment. Acceptance trials are the last significant milestone before delivery of the trimaran ship in early 2018. LCS 14 will be the second Independence-variant LCS Austal delivers to the Navy in less than six months.
“This is the fourth Austal-built Navy ship to reach this milestone this year, an amazing feat but not surprising considering the incredibly talented shipbuilders we employ here,” Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle said in a statement announcing the completion of trials. “With LCS 14 now making final preparations for delivery and LCS 16 right behind her, we’re excited to see these ships join the fleet at such a steady pace, momentum that positions us well for the future.”
Austal has delivered six Independence-variant LCSes, one of which, Coronado (LCS 4), recently returned to San Diego Navy Base after completing a 14-month deployment with the Pacific Fleet. While deployed for the first time, the Coronado accomplished several LCS “firsts” — first launch/firing of Harpoon antiship missiles, first deployment of hybrid aviation detachment of MH-60 helicopter and FireScout UAS, first use of MQ-8B FireScout UAS to provide target information for LCS-launched Harpoon missile, and first experimentation with NRL-developed NOMAD electronic warfare system.
The LCS program is at full rate production and is continuing its momentum at Austal with seven ships currently under construction. Tulsa (LCS 16), Charleston (LCS 18) and Cincinnati (LCS 20) are preparing for trials.
Final assembly is well underway on Kansas City (LCS 22) and Oakland (LCS 24) and the first aluminum was cut on the future USS Mobile (LCS 26) on Dec. 12. Austal also recently received new construction contracts for LCS 28 and LCS 30 — two of the three LCSes awarded in FY 2017.