The future USS Jackson (LCS 6) launched from the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala., Dec. 14, marking an important production milestone for the littoral combat ship program.
Jackson joins the future USS Milwaukee (LCS 5), which will launch from the Marinette Marine Corp. yard in Wisconsin next week.
These ships are the first vessels procured under the block buy contract awarded in 2010 and represent the true beginning of “serial production” for the class. With serial production, the Navy is able to realize benefits such as improved cost structure per vessel and reduced construction time.
“Seeing multiple littoral combat ships on the Mobile waterfront is a beautiful thing,” said Capt. Tom Anderson, LCS program manager. “Serial production is in full swing at both building yards and we are seeing ship construction milestones.”
Following the launch, the ship will undergo outfitting, and test and evaluation of its major systems at the Austal shipyard.
The ship’s christening, a ceremony that marks the official naming of the vessel, is planned for the spring.
The LCS class consists of two variants, the trimaran design Independence variant, and the monohull design Freedom variant. The ships are designed and built by two industry teams, led by Austal USA and Lockheed Martin, respectively. Jackson is the third LCS constructed by Austal USA.
Both variants within the LCS class are fast, agile, focused-mission platforms designed for operation in near-shore environments yet capable of open ocean operation. The LCS is designed to embark specialized mission packages to defeat “anti-access” threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft.
The Navy has been able to incorporate much of the knowledge gained in the construction, test and operation of LCS 1 and LCS 2, the lead ships of the class, into follow on ships.
Many of those are currently in various stages of construction, and will deliver to the Navy over the next few years. They include Jackson’s sister ships; Montgomery (LCS 8), Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10), Omaha (LCS 12), Manchester (LCS 14) and Tulsa (LCS 16).
Program Executive Office Littoral Combat Ships is affiliated with the Naval Sea Systems Command and provides a single program executive responsible for acquiring and sustaining mission capabilities of the littoral combat ship class, from procurement through fleet employment and sustainment. Delivering high-quality warfighting assets while balancing affordability and capability is key to supporting the Navy’s Maritime Strategy.
Press Release, December 16, 2013; Image: US Navy