On August 6, 2014, Austal USA successfully completed the launch of the future USS Montgomery (LCS 8). The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is a fast, agile, focused-mission platform designed for operation in near-shore environments yet capable of open-ocean operation. This vessel is the second of ten 127-meter Independence-variant LCS class ships Austal has been contracted to build for the U.S. Navy as prime contractor subsequent to a $3.5 billion block buy in 2010.
Craig Perciavalle, Austal USA President, commented, “We are very proud to launch the ship named after the capital of Alabama, especially since the greatest shipbuilders made it happen right here in Mobile, Alabama”. Mr. Perciavalle added, “The LCS program continues to progress very well as we continue to see marked improvement in performance ship to ship; a testament to the commitment our incredible team of shipbuilders have in continuous improvement and cost reduction, and the pride we have in building high quality, highly capable high-speed warships for our great Navy.”
With the assistance of Berard Transportation and BAE Systems’ Southeast Shipyard, the launch of Montgomery was conducted in a multi-step process which involved lifting the entire 1,600-metric-ton ship almost three feet in the air, moving it approximately 400 feet onto a moored deck barge adjacent to the assembly bay, then transferring the LCS to a floating dry dock, BAE’s Drydock Alabama. The floating dry dock was submerged with Montgomery entering the water for the first time.
The ship is now moored in the Mobile River in front of Austal USA’s facility, where it will undergo final outfitting and activation before sea trials and delivery to the Navy.
The LCS program is vibrant at Austal USA with five ships currently under construction. Jackson (LCS 6) was christened in March and is preparing for sea trials later this year; Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) is being assembled in preparation for launch later this year; and construction is well underway in Austal’s Module Manufacturing Facility (MMF) on Omaha (LCS 12) and Manchester (LCS 14), with Tulsa (LCS 16) starting in early August.
Austal, as prime contractor, is teamed with General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems (GD-AIS) for the Independence-variant LCS program. GD-AIS is the ship systems integrator, responsible for the design, integration and testing of the navigation systems, C4I, and aviation systems.
Austal has also been contracted by the U.S. Navy to build ten, 103-meter JHSVs under a 10-ship, $1.6 billion contract. Three of the ten have already been delivered. Austal continues to make steady forward progress on the JHSV program as USNS Fall River (JHSV 4), which recently completed acceptance trials, prepares for delivery to the Navy in the fall. Trenton (JHSV 5) is to be launched in September. Construction on Brunswick (JHSV 6) is also well underway in Austal’s Mobile, Ala. shipyard.