The following is the text of a news release from Austal Ltd.:
(MOBILE, Ala.) — Austal officials joined ship sponsor U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and many distinguished guests in celebrating the christening of the nation’s 14th littoral combat ship (LCS), the future USS Manchester, at Austal USA on Saturday.
Manchester (LCS 14) is the fifth LCS in Austal’s 11-ship contract worth over $3.5 billion. With its shallow draft of 14 feet, the Austal-built Independence-variant LCS is an advanced high-speed and agile 419-foot aluminum trimaran combat ship that combines superior seakeeping, endurance and speed with the volume and payload capacity needed to support emerging missions.
“On behalf of Austal USA’s shipbuilding team, one of the most talented that I’ve ever worked with, we are proud to provide our sailors with an amazing warship that will honor the great city of Manchester as she defends our nation,” said Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle. “We’re equally excited to share this celebration with an amazing patriot in Sen. Shaheen, who has served in her role as both governor and senator and now gives her spirit as the sponsor to this awesome ship.”
Shaheen, the only woman in U.S. history to be elected both a governor and a United States senator, has served in the Senate since 2009. She has been committed to serving the citizens of New Hampshire for decades and is known for her common-sense leadership, hard work and dedication to improving the lives of the middle class. As New Hampshire's governor, Shaheen helped create nearly 67,000 jobs while keeping New Hampshire's tax burden the lowest in the country. She and her husband, Bill live in Madbury and have three daughters, Stefany, Stacey and Molly (matron of honor), and seven grandchildren.
Traditionally, the christening of a ship is where the ship's sponsor blesses the ship by breaking the bottle of champagne on the bow of the ship and ceremonially gives the ship its name. The roll of sponsorship represents a lifelong relationship with the ship and its crew.
The future USS Manchester will launch in mid-May and is scheduled for delivery in 2017. It has a maximum speed of more than 40 knots, a 28,000-square-foot mission bay and a flight deck capable of holding two H-60 helicopters.
Austal’s LCS program is in full swing with three ships delivered and seven ships under construction. Montgomery (LCS 8) conducted acceptance trials late last week. Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) and Omaha (LCS 12) are preparing for trials. Final assembly is well underway on Tulsa (LCS 16) and modules for Charleston (LCS 18) and Cincinnati (LCS 20) are under construction in Austal’s Module Manufacturing Facility.
The company has also been contracted by the U.S. Navy to build 10 expeditionary fast transports (EPFs). Of the 10 ships included in the $1.6 billion block-buy contract, six have been delivered.