Austal Receives Two of Three New LCS Contracts
MOBILE, ALABAMA – September 19, 2018
Austal USA has received Navy contracts for two more Littoral Combat ships, a significant extension to the Mobile shipyard's biggest program.
LCS is a new generation of US Navy surface ships that can perform a wide range of combat missions, both on the high seas and in the coastal zone.
LCS is a modular, reconfigurable ship, designed to meet validated fleet requirements for surface warfare (SUW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and mine countermeasures (MCM) missions in the littoral region. An interchangeable mission package is embarked on each LCS and provides the primary mission systems in one of these warfare areas.
Using an open architecture design, modular weapons, sensor systems and a variety of manned and unmanned vehicles to gain, sustain and exploit littoral maritime supremacy, LCS provides US joint force access to critical areas in multiple theaters.
The 2017-18 defense budget allocated money for three of the ships, but hadn't specified which of two shipyards would build them. Austal's Independence-class LCS is a futuristic aluminum trimaran; Lockheed Martin's Freedom-class variant is a more conventional steel monohull built in Wisconsin.
Austal received two of three LCS contracts awarded in 2017. To repeat that in 2018 gives it a clear lead in overall LCS production. Lockheed Martin's new contract is for the future LCS 29 while Austal, which builds even-numbered ships, received orders for LCS 32 and LCS 34.
"To be awarded these contracts in such a highly competitive environment is a great honor," said Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle. "This is a testament to the hard work and commitment of our talented employees and dedicated supplier network, and further evidence of the important role Austal plays in building the Navy's 355-ship fleet."
Austal recently delivered LCS 18, the future USS Charleston, to the Navy in August. LCS 20, the Cincinnati, was christened in May and LCS 22, the Kansas City, is to be christened on Saturday. Several other ships are in various stages of construction, and a keel-laying ceremony is to be held in December for LCS 26, the future USS Mobile.
Austal employs around 4,000 people in Mobile and its LCS program has been delivering two ships per year. Construction of LCS 32 is scheduled to begin in 2019, "and these awards will keep Austal busy building ships into 2023," Perciavalle said.
According to the U.S. Naval Institute News, Congress allocated $1.8 billion for the three ships. According to Austal, "The specific value of each contract is under the congressional cost cap of $584 million per ship."
Congress is on track to approve and fund three more LCS contracts for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. It likely will be well into 2019 before those contracts are awarded. Congress also appears likely to fund another of the Expeditionary Fast Transport ships that Austal USA builds for the Navy.
Overall, the LCS program is nearing its end and the Navy is developing a new frigate program that will follow it; several competing designs include ships closely based on the Austal and Lockheed Martin LCS designs.