The option for a second Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) has now been confirmed following the announcement in October 2005 for the first General Dynamics / Austal LCS.
Based on the 127 metre advanced Austal trimaran seaframe, which forms the platform for the ship’s operational and combat systems, the new vessel will be built alongside “Independence” which is currently in an advanced stage of construction in Austal’s Mobile, Alabama shipyard
Recent Navy reports have speculated on an expanded acquisition strategy, from four to a possible seventeen, for the Flight 0 fleet of LCSs that also includes an alternate monohull ship design. Commenting in September, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development, and Acquisition), Dr Delores Etter, told Reuters,
In addition, the prospect of foreign military sales of the LCS is also gaining increased interest and US Navy emphasis as the first of fleet vessels increasingly near completion. A reported 26 potential buyers exist worldwide for the ship and its companion equipment with two near-term contenders and four others that have expressed active interest.
Austal’s trimaran LCS design offers seakeeping via its long, slender central hull that, combined with smaller side hulls, allows unequalled beam (width) creating a voluminous internal mission deck with a high payload carrying capacity. Above this is an enormous flight deck capable of handling dual H-60 helicopter operations, a feature not available on similar size naval vessels