Austal has successfully completed main engine light off of the two MTU 9,100kW 20V 8000 M71 propulsion diesel engines and the two 22,000kW GE LM2500 gas turbine engines on the General Dynamics team’s landmark 127-meter Littoral Combat Ship Independence (LCS 2). The light off of the main engines follows the fuel load and the testing of all four generators.

The diesels are considered the highest power high-speed diesel engines in the world. Delivering up to 12,200 bhp (9,100 kW) of continuous power, MTU’s Series 8000 offers a fuel consumption of less than 190g/kWh, while achieving IMO MARPOL NOx emission certification. Four MTU 20V 8000 M70 engines were previously installed in the Austal 127-meter trimaran Benchijigua Express, which has been successfully operating in the Canary Islands for several years. Austal has installed a total of twenty-four MTU 8000 Series diesel engines, proven in operation on six Austal vessels over the past four years.

The GE LM2500 gas turbines each develop 29,500 bhp (22,000kW) and are the standard workhorse engines installed in almost all the US Navy surface combatant ships. More than 750 of these gas turbines power the Navy’s fleet of surface combatants. The LM2500 marine gas turbine is GE’s most widely applied gas turbine. It powers more then 400 ships in 30 world navies, fast ferries, coast guard cutters, supply ships and cruise ships. No stranger to these engines, Austal installed them in a fast vehicle ferry operating in Denmark. The 127-meter Austal trimaran seaframe is the platform for the LCS’s mission and weapon systems. This seaframe provides superior seakeeping and aviation capability as a result of its long, slender central hull and smaller side hulls (called “amahsâ€). The trimaran hullform provides a large internal mission deck with a high payload carrying capacity in addition to the increase in seakeeping and propulsion efficiency. Located above the mission bay is the enormous flight deck capable of conducting H-60 helicopter operations and designed to operate the Firescout VTUAV. The vertical location of the flight deck on the trimaran hull form provides the highest flight deck elevation, out of the waves and sea spray, on a combatant ship other than a major amphibious vessel or aircraft carrier. Independence will be moored alongside the Austal USA facility while the activation and testing of combat and other onboard systems continues. Sea trials are expected to commence this summer with delivery planned for later in the year.

In reaction to the success of this important event leading up to LCS 2 sea trials, Joe Rella, President and COO of Austal USA commented, “Austal USA continues to establish its rightful place as one of the world’s premium shipbuilders. The successful achievement of this major milestone is another example of Austal’s commitment to the LCS program’s goal of completing sea trials and delivering the LCS 2 to the Navy as quickly as possible.†Independence is one of two alternative ship designs that will be procured by the US Navy as part of its plan to expand the existing fleet to 313 ships. The Navy’s current program of record calls ultimately for constructing 55 Littoral Combat Ships.

Austal USA Update

The Independence (LCS 2) main engine light off success closely follows the recent award of the contract to design and build the US Department of Defense’s next generation multi-use platform, the Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV), as part of a program potentially worth over US$1.6 billion. The Initial Critical Design Review was completed in April and the team is anticipating the Final Critical Design Review in September 2009. Austal, as a part of the General Dynamics team, was also recently awarded the contract to build Coronado (LCS 4). Austal USA broke ground in June 2008 for a 750,000-square-foot Module Manufacturing Facility (MMF). The first phase is due for completion in a couple of months and the resulting production line will enable the construction of three large aluminium vessels per year.


High resolution images of the Littoral Combat Ship can be downloaded from the Austal media gallery at:

For further information contact: Bill Pfister or Michelle Bowden Tel: 251 434 8000 Fax: 251 445 1955 Email: Website:

By Professional Mariner Staff