Austal USA delivered its ninth Independence-variant littoral combat ship (LCS) to the Navy last week — the third LCS delivered by Austal this year. The future Charleston (LCS 18) will be the 16th LCS to enter the fleet. (LCS 15 and LCS 17 are under construction at Fincantieri Marinette Marine, Marinette, Wis., builder of the odd numbered LCSes)
The 421'6"x103.7' LCS 18 completed acceptance trials in mid-July in the Gulf of Mexico. Charleston executed comprehensive tests while underway, which demonstrated to the Navy the successful operation of the ship’s major systems and equipment.
Each aluminum LCS is powered by twin 12,200-hp MTU 20V8000 diesel engines and two 29,500-hp GE LM2500 gas turbines.
Five LCSes remain under construction at Austal’s Alabama shipyard. Cincinnati (LCS 20) is preparing for sea trials. Assembly is underway on Kansas City (LCS 22) and Oakland (LCS 24) and modules for Mobile (LCS 26) and Savannah (LCS 28) are under construction. Construction on 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,” Craig Perciavalle, Austal USA’s president, said in a statement announcing the delivery of Charleston.
More than 700 suppliers in 40 states contribute to the Independence-variant LCS program. The supplier base supports tens of thousands of small business to large business jobs, shipyard officials said.
Austal is also under contract to build 12 expeditionary fast transport vessels (EPF) for the Navy. The company has delivered nine EPFs while an additional three are in various stages of construction.