On May 23rd, Austal USA successfully launched the 17th Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the future USS Augusta (LCS 34). Assisted by tugs, the ship was escorted out of Austal USA’s floating dry dock and secured pier side on the waterfront for machinery commissioning and system activation in preparation for sea trials later this year. The launch of Augusta was a multi-step process which involved lifting the 2,500-metric-ton ship almost three feet in the air, moving it approximately 400 feet onto a moored deck barge adjacent to the assembly bay – using transporters – then transferring the LCS from the deck barge to a floating dry dock. The floating dry dock was submerged with LCS 34 entering the water for the first time.
“We’re proud to announce another successful milestone achievement for the LCS program at Austal USA,” stated Austal USA Vice President of New Construction, Dave Growden. “Austal USA’s team of talented shipbuilders are excited to have another LCS in the water and are looking forward to delivering her to the Navy so she can join her sister ships in the Pacific fleet.”
The LCS is a fast, agile, mission-focused platform designed to operate in near-shore environments, winning against 21st-century coastal threats. The LCS is capable of supporting forward presence, maritime security, sea control, and deterrence. With capabilities focused on defeating global challenges in the littorals, these surface combatants are designed to provide joint force access in the littorals. LCS can operate independently or in high-threat environments as part of a networked battle force that includes multi-mission surface combatants.
Augusta is the 17th of 19 Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ships that Austal USA is building for the U.S. Navy. Four LCS are under various stages of construction. Austal USA is also constructing four Expeditionary Fast Transport ships for the U.S. Navy and will begin construction on Navajo-class Towing, Salvage, and Rescue Ships this summer. 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.