Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama, launched the future USS Canberra (LCS 30) into the Mobile River on March 30. The future USS Canberra will be the 30th Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) for the U.S. Navy, and the 15th Independence-class LCS built by Austal USA. The keel laying of LCS 30 took place on March 10, 2020 in presence of the Hon Marise Payne, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs. She was appointed Minister for Defence in September 2015. USS Canberra will be the second US ship to be named Canberra, after the ship HMAS Canberra which in turn was named after the Australian capital city.
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. It is still able to reach sustainable speeds of about 50 knots (93 km/h; 58 mph), with a range of 10,000 nautical miles (19,000 km; 12,000 mi).
The first ships of classes were delivered before the designs were mature so that improvements could be built into future ships. The Navy is improving the Independence-class with bridge wings for safety and replacing the 5.1-metre (17 ft) Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) with a 7-metre (23 ft) boat. An improved cathodic protection system will enhance corrosion protection. The Independence vessels will be getting axial flow water jets which pushes water parallel to the shaft of the impeller to improve efficiency and reduce maintenance; they will also be upgraded to handle the horsepower provided by the gas turbine propulsion system.
The Independence-class carries a default armament for self-defense, and command and control. Unlike traditional fighting ships with fixed armament such as guns and missiles, tailored mission modules can be configured for one mission package at a time. The U.S. Navy officially selected the NSM to serve as the LCS’ OTH anti-ship weapon. The NSM will be designated as the RGM-184A in US service. The Raytheon SeaRAM missile defense system is installed on the hangar roof. The SeaRAM combines the sensors of the Phalanx 1B close-in weapon system with an 11-missile launcher for the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile, creating an autonomous system.