Austal has launched the US Navy’s Independence-variant littoral combat ship (LCS), the future USS Omaha (LCS 12), at the company’s shipyard.
Omaha has sailed on a barge to a floating drydock at BAE Shipyard, and will return to Austal’s final assembly pier to continue outfitting, system activation and testing.
The fourth ship in a block buy contract with Austal, Omaha is scheduled to be christened on 19 December.
US Navy LCS programme manager captain Tom Anderson said: "That this precisely choreographed launch event has become commonplace in Mobile is a sign of the maturity and stability of the LCS serial production line.
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"I look forward to the future USS Omaha completing the test and trial process en route to delivery to the fleet."
The US Navy’s LCS programme aims to fill gaps in the critical, urgent operational war-fighting requirements that currently exist in the navy to defeat littoral threats, and provide access and dominance in coastal waters.
The LCS-class consists of the Freedom and Independence variants, which are developed by two industry teams led by Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics (GD), respectively. Austal USA, along with Bath Iron Works, is part of the team led by GD.
Of the other Independence-variant ships, Montgomery (LCS 8) is preparing for builders trials and Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) is completing system testing in preparation for trials.
Currently under construction, Manchester (LCS 14) is preparing for an early 2016 launch, while Tulsa (LCS 16) will have its keel laid later this year.