Austal USA hosted the christening ceremony for the future USS Santa Barbara (LCS 32) Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship at the company’s Gulf Coast shipyard in mid-October. Ship sponsor Lolita Zinke performed the ceremonial bottle break over the bow of the Santa Barbara, the 16th LCS designed and constructed by Austal USA and the third U.S. Navy ship to be named after the California coast city.
The 421'6"x103.7' Independence-variant LCS is the most recent step in the small surface combatant evolution. A high-speed, agile, shallow draft, focused-mission surface combatant, the LCS is designed to conduct surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and mine countermeasures missions in the littoral near-shore region, while also possessing the capability for deepwater operations. With its open-architecture design, the LCS can support modular weapons, sensor systems and a variety of manned and unmanned vehicles
Each aluminum trimaran LCS has a displacement of 3,200 MT, a 15.1' draft and is powered by a pair of 12,200-hp MTU 20V8000 diesel engines and two 29,500-hp GE LM2500 gas turbines.
Austal USA President Rusty Murdaugh welcomed the official party and community members and employees who attended the ceremony.
“I am proud to represent the Austal shipbuilding team today as we commemorate a significant milestone in the life of this incredible warship,” said Murdaugh. “Our talented team of shipbuilders is proud to provide our Navy with an extraordinarily capable vessel that will honor the great city of Santa Barbara as she becomes a vital part of the U.S. naval fleet protecting our Nation.”
The Independence-variant LCS program has recorded a number of successful deployments with more ships scheduled to deploy in the near future. In May 2020, the USS Montgomery (LCS 8) conducted operations in the South China Sea. Later that same month, the USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) also conducted presence operations in the area.
In December, Giffords moved to support U.S. Southern Command in the Caribbean and eastern Pacific Ocean with the ship interdicting $100 million of illegal drugs. In June, the USS Tulsa (LCS 16) conducted operations in the Philippine Sea, while the USS Charleston (LCS 18) operated with the Sri Lankan navy in Malaysia. There are currently three Independence-variant LCS deployed to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command region.
Santa Barbara (LCS 32) is the 16th of 19 small surface combatants Austal USA is building for the U.S. Navy. Five Littoral Combat Ships are under various stages of construction. Austal USA is also constructing two Expeditionary Fast Transport ships (EPF) for the U.S. Navy with another beginning construction next month.