WA based Austal has recently enjoyed two milestones with the christening of the USS Kansas City for the US Navy and commencing the local construction of a high-speed passenger trimaran ferry, a civilian variant of the highly successful LCS platform.
Austal's wholly owned US subsidiary hosted the christening of the US' 22nd Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the future USS Kansas City, the 11th of 17 Independence Class LCS Austal USA has under contract with the US Navy at a combined value of over $4.5 billion, at its state-of-the-art ship manufacturing facility over the weekend.
"Today marks a significant milestone with the christening of this amazing warship. Our talented shipbuilding team is proud to provide our Navy with an extraordinarily capable vessel that will honour Kansas City as she becomes an integral part of the US naval fleet protecting our nation," Austal USA president Craig Perciavalle said at the christening.
The Independence-variant LCS is a high-speed, agile, shallow draft, focused-mission surface combatant designed to conduct surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and mine countermeasures missions in the littoral region. With its open architecture design, the LCS can support modular weapons, sensor systems and a variety of manned and unmanned vehicles to capture and sustain littoral maritime supremacy.
Austal delivered Charleston (LCS 18) at the end of August, the third Independence-variant LCS delivered to the Navy this year. In addition to the future USS Kansas City, four more Independence-variant LCS are currently under construction, including Cincinnati (LCS 20), Oakland (LCS 24), Mobile (LCS 26) and Savannah (LCS 28), with construction on Canberra (LCS 30) scheduled to begin in early 2019. The future LCS 32 and 34 were awarded on 18 September 2018, and will begin pre-production activities.
In addition to being in full-rate production for the LCS program, Austal is also the Navy’s prime contractor for the Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) program. Austal has delivered nine EPF, while an additional three are in various stages of construction.
Building on the growing success of the company's naval order book, Austal has begun construction of the first of two, 117-metre, high-speed passenger trimaran ferries for Fred Olsen. Developed in Henderson, Western Australia at Austal’s centre of excellence in maritime design, these technologically advanced, next-generation vessels will be used by Fred Olsen Express in the Canary Islands, joining their sister ship, the Benchijigua Express.
"The Benchijigua Express is the benchmark for blue-water commercial ferry operations, exceeding expectations for performance, speed and customer experience in the Canary Islands. This vessel will be a game-changer in the international high-speed ferry market and we are proud to be building it for Fred Olsen," Austal CEO David Singleton said.
Singleton highlighted the role Austal USA and the success of the LCS program has played in enhancing the domestic manufacturing capacity of the company.
"The advanced technology of the Austal trimaran led to the development of the Independence Class Littoral Combat Ship for the US Navy, where there are nine units currently in service. The continuing customer satisfaction of the trimaran platform both by commercial and military customers is the greatest endorsement of the advanced seakeeping and versatility of the Austal trimaran design," he said.
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Austal is an Australian shipbuilder and global defence prime contractor that designs, constructs and sustains some of the world’s most advanced commercial and defence vessels. Austal has designed, constructed and delivered more than 300 commercial and defence vessels for more than 100 operators in 54 countries worldwide.