Australian shipbuilder, Austal, has been awarded construction contracts by the US Navy to build two additional Independence class Littoral Combat Ships (LCS).
These ships will be the sixteenth and seventeenth ships in the class to be delivered by Austal, with the value of each contract expected to fall under the congressional cost cap of US$584 million per ship (circa $1.6 billion for both vessels).
The US Congress on Tuesday approved the purchase of three new LCSs, namely LCS-29, LCS-32 and LCS-34. LCS 29 will be built by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, while LCS-32 and LCS-34 will be built at Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama.
The 127 metre, frigate-sized, vessel was originally designed in the Austal centre for excellence in maritime design, based in Henderson, Western Australia. The vessel design has been transferred to Austal USA and the build is undertaken in Austal’s purpose-built shipyard, based in Mobile, Alabama, USA.
“This latest order from US Navy is a tremendous endorsement of the Austal LCS platform and further evidence of the important role Austal plays in building the United States Navy,” Austal CEO, David Singleton said. “We continue hearing positive feedback from the fleet commanders on how well our ships match their mission requirements as they operate globally.”
“We remain dedicated to building these ships safely, timely and with the quality and craftsmanship that Austal has built our reputation on,” Singleton said.
The LCS has been identified as a key component to the US Navy’s ability to gain sea control through distributed lethality. This, along with the highly-successful Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) program, positions the company well to rapidly and efficiently support the Navy’s desired fleet of 355 ships with affordable solutions.
Construction of LCS-32 is scheduled to begin in 2019 with delivery of LCS-34 expected to occur in mid fiscal year 2023.
Austal delivered the future USS Charleston (LCS 18) to the Navy last month and is scheduled to deliver USNS Burlington (EPF 10) before the end of the year. With eight LCSs and nine EPFs already delivered, Austal-built ships are impacting worldwide operations.