Austal held a keel-laying ceremony yesterday for the third Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) – Jackson (LCS 6), one of five Austal-designed 127-metre US Navy Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ships under contract with the US Navy.
Dr. Katherine Holmes Cochran, the ship’s sponsor, was present to weld her initials onto the keel plate as the Keel Authenticator. She was assisted by J.B. Craig, III, who is an “A” Class welder that has been part of the Austal team since November of 2011.
A traditional keel-laying ceremony marks the first significant milestone in the construction of the ship. Due to Austal’s modular approach to ship manufacture, 35 of the 37 modules used to form this 127-metre aluminum trimaran design are already being assembled. For Austal, keel-laying marks the beginning of final assembly. Four modules have been moved from Austal’s Module Manufacturing Facility (MMF), three of which are erected in the final assembly bay in their pre-launch position. The rest will follow over the coming months.
“Jackson (LCS 6) is the first of ten Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ships awarded by the Navy to Austal as prime contractor,” stated Craig Perciavalle, Austal USA’s Senior Vice President of Operations. “It is exciting to see our most recent facility additions come to life, with this ship being the first constructed utilizing Phase 2 of our Module Manufacturing Facility and the first ship assembled in our new Assembly Bay 5. None of this would be possible without the hard work of the great employees of Austal USA.”
Austal USA is a full-service shipyard offering design, construction and high-speed vessel service and repair. As Austal USA continues to expand its service and repair capabilities, the company is well positioned for new business with engineering, test and trials capabilities, and a new waterfront facility on the Mobile Bay waterfront.
Austal is currently under contract with the U.S. Navy to build nine 103-metre Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSVs) under a 10-ship, US$1.6 billion contract and five 127-metre Independence-variant LCS class ships, four of which are a part of a 10-ship, US$3.5 billion contract.
For the LCS and JHSV programs, Austal, as prime contractor, is teamed with General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics. As the ship systems integrator, General Dynamics is responsible for the design, integration and testing of the ship’s electronic systems including the combat system, networks, and seaframe control. General Dynamics’ proven open architecture approach allows for affordable and efficient capability growth as technologies develop.
These two contracts will require Austal to increase its Mobile, Ala. workforce to approximately 4,000 employees in order to fulfill the contract requirements.
Press Release, October 19, 2012; Image: austal