The US Navy has laid keel for the newest Independence-class littoral combat ship (LCS), the future USS Kansas City (LCS 22), at Austal USA’s shipyard, marking the beginning of the vessel’s construction.

LCS Seaframe Programme Manager representative navy commander Chris Addington said: “Through the hard work and dedication of the men and women of Austal, this keel will be built up to a highly capable navy ship.”

The LCS 22 will have a length of approximately 418ft and a width of about 104ft.

LCS programme executive officer rear admiral John Neagley said: “In the coming months, the hardworking men and women of Austal USA will pull one million feet of cable, install 550,000ft² of insulation, weld 75,000ft of pipe and shape 850 metric tonnes of aluminium into an engineering marvel.”

The LCS was christened in July 2015 and once commissioned, the ship will be the second vessel to bear the name Kansas City.

“Through the hard work and dedication of the men and women of Austal, this keel will be built up to a highly capable navy ship.”

The US Navy’s LCS is a modular, reconfigurable vessel specifically designed to carry out interchangeable mission packages on to the seaframe in support of surface warfare, mine countermeasures and anti-submarine warfare.

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By GlobalData

The LCS class of ships comprises the Freedom-variant and the Independence variant vessels.

While the Freedom-class vessels are designed and constructed by Lockheed Martin, the development of the Independence-class ships is led by Austal.

Both LCS classes are purchased under a block-buy acquisition strategy.

There are currently 13 LCSs under construction.