Austal launches future USS Gabrielle Giffords

The following is the text of a news release from Naval Sea Systems Command:

(MOBILE, Ala.) (Feb. 27) — The future USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10), launched from the Austal USA shipyard Feb. 25, marking an important production milestone for the littoral combat ship (LCS) program. 

“This third Independence-variant ship of the block buy is the first ship constructed fully utilizing Austal’s LCS Modular Manufacturing Facility and is launching at the highest level of production completion to-date,” said Capt. Tom Anderson, littoral combat ship program manager, “a sign that facility investments are now paying off in schedule and cost performance.” 

The ship is named after former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. LCS 10 will be the 16th U.S. naval ship to be named for a woman, and only the 13th ship to be named for a living person since 1850. 

Gabrielle Giffords was rolled out of her assembly bay onto a barge for transfer down the Mobile River to a floating dry dock Feb. 24. The ship entered the water for the first time the following day when the dry dock was flooded for the ship launch. The ship will return to the shipyard to continue final outfitting and activation until her christening later this year. She is expected to deliver to the fleet in 2017.

Gabrielle Giffords is the third ship in a block buy contract with Austal to build 10 Independence-variant LCS ships. Sister ship Jackson (LCS 6) is preparing for builder's trials, and Montgomery (LCS 8) was christened in November 2014. The LCS program is ramping up in 2015 to deliver two ships per year from the Austal shipyard, as well as two Freedom-variant ships from the Marinette Marine shipyard in Wisconsin. 

The Navy is leveraging competition, fixed-price contracting and ongoing production efficiencies to reduce construction time and costs on littoral combat ships. Lessons learned from the lead ships have been incorporated into both Freedom-variant (odd-numbered) and Independence-variant (even-numbered) hulls.

PEO LCS is responsible for delivering and sustaining littoral mission capabilities to the fleet and is working with industry to increase production efficiencies and leverage cost savings to achieve steady serial production. Delivering high-quality warfighting assets while balancing affordability and capability is key to supporting the Navy's maritime strategy.

By Professional Mariner Staff