The US Navy's first next-generation landing craft, air cushion (LCAC) 100 production model, has entered into the next phase of manufacturing, with the completion of its hull.
Being built at Textron Systems Marine & Land Systems as part of the navy's Ship to Shore Connector (SSC) programme, the first hull was turned over during a seven and a half hour evolution.
PEO Ships Amphibious Warfare Program Office programme manager Tom Rivers said: "This significant production event marks the buoyancy box's transition from the Hull Assembly Line to the first Craft Assembly Station.
"It is a major transition point as the first craft now enters the above deck module integration phase of production."
In July 2012, Textron Systems was awarded a $213m contract to design and build a SSC test and LCAC 100 with scheduled delivery in 2017.
This contract included options worth a total potential value of $570m for up to eight production craft to be delivered by 2020. The first contract option for LCAC 101 was awarded in August 2014.
The US Navy's SSC programme has a total requirement of 73 craft, including one test and training and 72 operational craft. Currently, Textron is building two crafts as part of a nine-hull contract.
The SSC is capable of carrying a 74t payload at speeds of more than 35k, and can accommodate up to 145 combat-equipped marines or 108 casualty personnel.
Being developed as a replacement for the navy's existing fleet of LCACs, the SSC craft will operate from the navy's amphibious ships and mobile landing platforms to transport weapon systems, equipment, cargo and personnel.