Austal USA has held a metal cutting ceremony on the US Navy’s Independence-class littoral combat ship Canberra (LCS 30).
Austal LCS Program Director Dave Growden had the honor of starting the router to cut the first piece of aluminium, signaling the start of construction.
The LCS is a 127m frigate-sized vessel designed to support focused mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare missions.
US president Donald Trump announced LCS 30 was to be named the USS Canberra in a joint press conference with then Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. The USS Canberra serves as a prime example of the close working relationship of the American-Australian alliance, with president Trump claiming “there is no closer friendship”.
The Austal designed and built LCS is Australia’s biggest defence export. Nine ships are already in service with the United States Navy with the tenth to join shortly, having recently completed acceptance trials. With the start of construction of LCS 30, five vessels are in various stages of construction with an additional four vessels on order.
“The LCS is now the second-largest surface ship class in production. In 2018, five LCS were delivered to the US Fleet and three will be delivered in 2019, a pace of construction and delivery not seen in the United States since the 1990s,” Austal CEO David Singleton said.
The future USS Canberra’s sponsor is Australia’s Minister for foreign affairs, Marise Payne. A ship’s sponsor plays a unique role for the US Navy, becoming part of the ship’s history, as an honorary permanent member of the crew and advocate. The sponsor typically attends all milestone events of the ships, most notably the christening of the vessel where it receives its official name to enter service.