The US Navy has christened its newest Independence-class littoral combat ship (LCS), the future USS Charleston (LCS 18), during a ceremony in Mobile, Alabama.
USS Charleston is the sixth navy ship to be named in honour of the city of Charleston, which is the oldest and the second-largest city in South Carolina, US.
The vessel was constructed by Austal and represents the seventh of 12 LCS ships being built by the company under a contract with the US Navy, which has been valued at more than $3.5bn.
Austal US president Craig Perciavalle said: “Our talented shipbuilding team is honoured to provide our navy with an extraordinarily capable vessel that will honour the great city of Charleston as she operates around the world.”
The future LCS 18 is a fast, agile, focused-mission vessel developed to operate in near-shore environments. It will also be capable of carrying out open-ocean operations.
The US Navy ship has been designed to face and defeat asymmetric ‘anti-access’ threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft.
US Navy secretary Richard V. Spencer said: “Charleston, like the other ships in the LCS programme, is going to be highly manoeuvrable, able to operate where other ships cannot, and will project power through forward presence.
“The ship and her crew will serve our nation for decades to come, but let us not forget our industrial force whose service makes this great ship possible.”
Each LCS seaframe will be equipped with a single mission package comprising mission modules such as warfighting systems and support equipment.
The vessel's crew can be combined with aviation assets to deploy both manned and unmanned vehicles and sensors in order to conduct mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare or surface warfare missions.
The US Navy previously christened its Independence-class LCS USS Tulsa (LCS 16) on 11 February.
Austal is expected to deliver the next vessel to the navy in the coming weeks, which will be known as Omaha (LCS 12).
Image: Christening ceremony of the US Navy’s future USS Charleston (LCS 18) in Mobile, Alabama. Photo: courtesy of Austal.