Coronado, the second Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), was christened on January 14, 2012 during a ceremony at Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama.
The Independence-variant LCS, with its trimaran hull–design, offers maneuverability, stability, endurance, shallow draft, three weapon zones, and a flight deck larger than any other U.S. Navy surface combatant, Susan Ring Keith is the ship’s sponsor. Upon her birth in Coronado, Susan joined a long family history associated with the Navy and Coronado. In addition to her father, both of her grandfathers and both of her uncles were career Naval Officers. Her two brothers followed their father into the naval service, with one brother retiring as a Rear Admiral. Her godfather (and later step-father) was Rear Admiral Put Storrs, one of The Three Seahawks, the predecessors to the Blue Angels. Susan was the quintessential Navy Junior, and she as well entered the Navy as a Navy wife and Navy mother.
In 1966, Susan's mother, Eleanor Ring, christened the previous USS Coronado (LPD/AGF-11) and Susan served as Maid of Honor. In 2009, Susan was invited by the Secretary of the Navy to serve as Sponsor of Coronado (LCS4). Susan's daughter, Isabella (Belle) Keith Drouin, will follow in Susan's footsteps by serving as the ship's Matron of Honor.
Austal USA President and Chief Operating Officer, Joe Rella, had this to say about the christening, “Today’s ceremony is a testament to the hard work and dedication of Austal’s talented shipbuilders. Next month we celebrate our 11th anniversary. Just a few days ago, we successfully launched our 12th ship and today we are hosting our third christening ceremony for a U.S. Navy vessel. We are proud of our accomplishments and honored to be building these magnificent warships that are already shaping the future of the modern day Navy.”
The 127-meter all-aluminum vessel is capable of being outfitted with reconfigurable payloads (mission packages) which can be changed quickly to support mine countermeasure, anti-submarine and surface warfare missions. The vessel has a maximum speed of more than 45 knots. This past summer, Austal celebrated the cutting of metal on Jackson (LCS-6), the first ship of Austal’s latest 10-ship LCS order worth over $3.5 billion. Montgomery (LCS-8) is also under contract as well as 7 of 10 vessels in the $1.6 billion Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) program, 3 of which are currently under construction – USNS Spearhead (JHSV-1), Choctaw County (JHSV-2) and JHSV 3.
For the LCS and JHSV programs, Austal 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 provides affordable capabilities to the fleet quickly and efficiently.
Celebrating its 11-year anniversary this month, Austal has grown into one of southern Alabama’s largest employers with over 2,400 employees on staff hailing from the Mobile area, Mississippi, Florida, and beyond. Under the current workload, Austal expects to employ over 4,000 Americans by the end of 2013, and will be ready to help the U.S. Navy meet any national security contingency ahead.