Austal USA Lays Keel for Eighth LCS for U.S. Navy

ACKERMAN, Miss. (Oct. 6, 2011) Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus and Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange, left, celebrate the naming of the eighth littoral combat ship, USS Montgomery (LCS 8). (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Sam Shavers/Released)
Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus and Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange, left, celebrate the naming of the eighth littoral combat ship, in this October 2011 file photo. (U.S. Navy photo)

The U.S. Navy and Austal USA on Wednesday held a keel laying ceremony for the future USS Montgomery, the U.S. Navy’s eighth Littoral Combat Ship (LCS).

During the keel-laying ceremony, which was held at the Austal shipyard in┬áMobile, Alabama, the ship was authenticated by sponsor Mary Sessions, wife of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, by having her initials welded into a sheet of the ship’s hull.

Montgomery is one of four Independence-variant LCS currently under construction at Austal USA. The ship is expected to deliver to the fleet in 2016.

“This class of ships breaks new ground in Navy acquisition, ship design and warfighting technology,” said Capt. Stephen Mitchell, supervisor of Shipbuilding, Gulf Coast. “I am impressed by their strength, flexibility and extraordinary capability, and they offer our troops a greater range of options than ever before.”

The Littoral Combat Ship has continued to draw support from the Pentagon and lawmakers despite federal budget cuts and a growing list of questions about its designs, firepower, defenses and survivability.

In a statement today, the Navy says it is committed to the LCS program and is leveraging competition, fixed-price contracting and ongoing production to reduce construction time and costs, adding that lessons learned from the lead ships have been incorporated in the follow on ships.

“It is exciting to see the shipyard really getting into the rhythm of serial production,” said Capt. Tom Anderson, LCS program manager.

Although several vessels have been named USS Montgomery, LCS-8 is only the second U. S. Navy ship named specifically for the city of Montgomery, Alabama. The former cruiser USS Montgomery (C-9) was commissioned in 1894 and decommissioned in 1918. The ship primarily operated in the Caribbean and off the coast of South America, participating in the blockade of Havana, Cuba, in 1898 during the Spanish-American War.