The U.S. Navy held a keel-laying ceremony on Oct. 27 for the future USS Santa Barbara Independence-class littoral combat ship (LCS 32). She will be the third U.S. Navy ship to be named Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara is currently being built in Mobile, Alabama by Austal USA. LCS 32 is the 16th Independence-variant ship. The littoral combat ship (LCS) class consists of the Freedom variant and Independence variant, designed and built by two industry teams. Lolita Zinke, the ship’s sponsor, authenticated the keel in a small ceremony, with limited attendance due to health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. As Santa Barbara’s sponsor, Zinke serves as an advocate and honorary member of the crew.
David Growden, vice president of Small Surface Combatant Programs, Austal USA; and Cmdr. Kris Netemeyer, LCS program manager’s representative, Supervisor of Shipbuilding Gulf Coast Detachment, spoke at the ceremony.
“Through this new warship and the name she bears, we honor a city that represents the very best of the American spirit,” said Capt. Mike Taylor, LCS program manager. “We set forth the Santa Barbara armed with the most adaptive and effective capabilities, designed to defend the United States.”
The Independence team is led by Austal USA, which produces the even-numbered hulls. The Independence class is a class of littoral combat ships built for the United States Navy. The hull design evolved from a project at Austal to design a high speed, 40 knot cruise ship. That hull design evolved into the high-speed trimaran ferry HSC Benchijigua Express and the Independence class was then proposed by General Dynamics and Austal as a contender for Navy plans to build a fleet of smaller, agile, multipurpose warships to operate nearshore in the littoral zone. Initially two ships were approved, to compete with Lockheed Martin’s Freedom-class design. This includes lead ship Independence and Coronado.