The U.S. Navy and Austal USA held a keel laying ceremony for the future USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10), the Navy’s tenth littoral combat ship (LCS), in Mobile, Ala., on April 16.
The keel-laying ceremony recognizes the first joining together of a ship’s components. While modern shipbuilding processes allow fabrication of individual modules to begin months earlier, the laying of the keel represents the formal beginning of a ship.
The ship’s sponsor, Ms. Roxanna Green, was unable to attend the ceremony. The ship’s namesake, former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, authenticated the keel by having her initials welded into a sheet of the ship’s hull.
“It is a special day for all of us on the Gulf Coast to have the ship’s namesake, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, here with us for the keel laying ceremony of LCS 10, the future USS Gabrielle Giffords,” said Capt. Joseph Tuite, Supervisor of Shipbuilding (SUPSHIP) Gulf Coast.
LCS is a new class of U.S. Navy warship, capable of open-ocean operation, but optimized for littoral, or coastal, missions. LCS 10 is one of five Independence-variant LCS currently under construction at Austal USA. The ship is expected to deliver to the fleet in 2017.
“This is an important milestone for the Navy. I look forward to closely following the completion of the future USS Gabrielle Giffords, as well as her sister ships, as we bring this tremendous capability to the fleet,” said Rear Adm. Brian Antonio, program executive officer, Littoral Combat Ships.
USS Gabrielle Giffords will be approximately 420 feet in length, have a waterline beam of about 103 feet, displace approximately 3,000 tons, and make speed in excess of 40 knots. The construction will be led by Austal Shipbuilding in Mobile, Ala. This is the sixteenth ship to be named for a woman and the thirteenth ship to be named for a living person since 1850.
Press Release, April 17, 2014; Image: US DoD