Austal and the U.S. Navy held a keel-laying ceremony yesterday, June 29, for the future USS Manchester (LCS 14), marking the first significant milestone in its construction.
This ship is the fifth Independence variant littoral combat ship (LCS) built at Austal under the 10-ship, $3.5 billion block buy contract awarded to Austal in 2010.
Due to Austal’s modular approach to ship manufacturing, 36 of 37 modules used to form this 127-meter (419-foot) aluminum trimaran are already being fabricated. For Austal, keel laying marks the beginning of final assembly. Nineteen modules have been moved from Austal’s Module Manufacturing Facility (MMF) and erected in the final assembly bay in their pre-launch position. The remaining 18 modules will follow over the coming months.
Austal’s LCS program delivered USS Independence (LCS 2) in 2009 and USS Coronado (LCS 4) in 2013. Seven additional LCS are under construction at the Mobile, Alabama shipyard. The Navy conducted acceptance trials on the future USS Jackson (LCS 6) last week, while the future USS Montgomery (LCS 8) is preparing for builders trials later this year. The future USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) was christened June 13, and the future USS Omaha (LCS 12) will complete final assembly and prepare for launch later this summer. Modules for the future USS Tulsa (LCS 16) and the future USS Charleston (LCS 18) are in the early phases of construction.