The keel has been laid for the US Navy’s 15th Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship, the future USS Canberra (LCS 30).

A ceremony was held to celebrate the milestone at Austal USA’s shipyard in Mobile, Alabama.

The event was attended by Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne, who has been appointed as the ship’s sponsor.

The LCS 30 is the second warship to bear the name Canberra, Australia’s capital city.

Payne said in a statement: “Austal is a world-leading naval shipbuilder entrusted with constructing the littoral combat ships for the US Navy.

“The success of Austal showcases Australian technical innovation and business expertise and underscores the deep strategic relationship between Australia and the US, uniquely reflected in the naming of the second USS Canberra, in honour of HMAS Canberra, lost at the Battle of Savo Island in 1942 along with three US heavy cruisers.”

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In February last year, the first piece of aluminium for the ship was cut.

The US Navy’s LCS programme involves construction of the vessels in two variants, the Freedom-class and the Independence-class.

Austal USA is serving as the prime contractor for the Independence-class, while Lockheed Martin is developing the Freedom-variant.

Last month, the 11th Independence-class Kansas City (LCS 22) was delivered to the US Navy.

Oakland (LCS 24), Mobile (LCS 26), Savannah (LCS 28), Santa Barbara (LCS 32), Kingsville (LCS 36) and USS Pierre (LCS 38) are the other Independence-class LCSs to be built by Austal USA.