Austal USA has officially marked the start of construction on the US Navy’s Independence-class littoral combat ship (LCS), the future USS Kingsville (LCS 36).

A keel-laying ceremony was hosted by the company at their ship manufacturing facility in Mobile, Alabama.

According to Austal, the event represents ‘module erection in final assembly and the ceremonial beginning of a ship’.

The ship’s sponsor, Katherine Kline, welded her initials onto an aluminium plate.

Austal USA tweeted: “Today marked an imp milestone in the life of the future #USSKingsville. During the keel-laying ceremony, ship sponsor, Mrs Katherine Kline, assisted by Austal A-class welder Joseph Bennett Jr, welded her initials onto an aluminium plate that will be placed in the keel of the ship.”

Under the US Navy’s LCS programme, two variants, Freedom-class and Independence-class, are being built by two industry teams led by Lockheed Martin and Austal USA respectively.

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The LCS is a fast, manoeuvrable, and networked surface combat ship designed to operate independently or in high threat environments.

In 2018, Austal won a contract to build LCS 36 and 38.

LCS 36 is the first US Navy ship to be named after Kingsville, a city in Texas. It is one of 18 ships that Austal is building for the US Navy.

In December last year, the company delivered the Navy’s 15th Independence LCS variant, the future USS Canberra (LCS 30).