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Austal USA Hosts Keel Laying Ceremony for LCS 18
MOBILE, Ala., – Austal celebrated an early major construction milestone for the future USS Charleston (LCS 18) here on June 28, with a keel-laying ceremony. This is the seventh Independence-variant littoral combat ship (LCS) built at Austal under the 11-ship contract worth over $3.5 billion.
U.S. Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) authenticated the keel by welding his initials onto an aluminum plate that will be placed in the hull of the ship. He will be assisted by Mr. Fermin Peralta-Valerio, an A-class welder at Austal and member of our shipbuilding team since 2014.
This will be the 6th Navy ship named after the city of Charleston where, according to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus – who named the ship – “there is a long history, from the decades of work at the Charleston Naval Shipyard to Charleston Marine Container Inc. building mission modules for the Littoral Combat Ship program today.”
“Today marks another major milestone,” Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle said. “The momentum Austal’s talented shipbuilding team is generating shows the continuing maturity of our LCS program.”
Austal has delivered four Independence-variant LCS to the Navy and six additional LCS are under construction at the Mobile, Ala. shipyard. Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) is preparing for trials later this year. Omaha (LCS 12) and Manchester (LCS 14) are also in the water making preparations for trials and delivery. Tulsa (LCS 16) will complete final assembly and prepare for launch later this year. The first aluminium was recently cut for Cincinnati (LCS 20) and the shipbuilders have begun construction on LCS 20 modules in Austal’s module manufacturing facility.
Austal is also building 10 Expeditionary Fast Transports (EPF) for the U.S. Navy under a $1.6 billion block-buy contract. Seven EPFs have been delivered to the Navy and three more are under construction at Austal.