Austal hosted a keel-laying ceremony for the future USS Tulsa (LCS 16) on January 11th, marking the first significant milestone in the ship’s construction. This ship is the sixth Independence-variant littoral combat ship (LCS) built at Austal under the 10-ship, $3.5 billion block buy contract awarded to Austal in 2010.
Ship sponsor Kathy Taylor, former Tulsa mayor and CEO of ImpactTulsa, authenticated the keel by welding her initials onto an aluminum plate that will be placed in the hull of the ship.
“It amazes me how fast this ship is coming together.” Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle said. “The speedy construction of this amazing ship is evidence of the rapid maturity of Austal’s LCS program, a testament to the extreme level of talent and experience displayed by Austal’s shipbuilding team.”
Austal’s LCS program delivered USS Independence (LCS 2) in 2009, USS Coronado (LCS 4) in 2013, and USS Jackson (LCS 6) in 2015. Six additional LCS are under construction at the Mobile, Ala. shipyard. Montgomery (LCS 8) and Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) are preparing for builders trials later this year. Omaha (LCS 12) was christened Dec. 19, and Manchester (LCS 14) will complete final assembly and prepare for launch later this year. Modules for Charleston (LCS 18) are under construction as well.
Austal is also building 10 Expeditionary Fast Transports (EPF) for the U.S. Navy under a $1.6 billion block-buy contract. USNS Trenton (EPF 5) marked the fifth vessel in this class to be delivered since the inception of the program. Both USNS Spearhead (EPF 1) and USNS Millinocket (EPF 3) are currently deployed supporting Naval fleet operations.