U.S. Navy to Christen LCS 10 – USS Gabrielle Giffords

USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) rolls out of Austal USA's facility, February 25, 2015. Photo: Austal USA
USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) rolls out of Austal USA’s facility, February 24, 2015. Photo: Austal USA

The U.S. Navy is getting ready to christen the future USS Gabrielle Giffords, the tenth ship in the Navy’s littoral combat ship program.

The ship is named after former United States 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.

The vessel is to be christened during a midday ceremony on June 13 at Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Alabama. During the event, Second Lady of the United States Dr. Jill Biden, the ship’s sponsor, will break a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow thereby christening the ship.

“The christening of the future USS Gabrielle Giffords marks the beginning of what is certain to be a long life for this great ship,” said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. “It is also a celebration of the skill and dedication of the men and women who have built LCS 10 and the courage of her namesake. This ship truly embodies the Navy motto of Semper Fortis – Always Courageous.”

The future USS Gabrielle Giffords was rolled out of her assembly bay at the the Austal USA shipyard on February 24, 2015 and launched from a dry dock a day later.

The LCS class consists of the Freedom variant and Independence variant, each designed and built by different industry teams. The Freedom variant team is led by Lockheed Martin (for odd-numbered hulls, e.g., LCS 1), while the Independence variant team is led by General Dynamics, Bath Iron Works (LCS 2 and LCS 4) and Austal USA (for the subsequent even-numbered hulls).

Gabrielle Giffords is the third ship in a block buy contract with Austal that calls for the construction of 10 Independence-variant 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 LCS is intended to operate in shallow, coastal waters and can travel at speeds in excess of 40 knots.

USS Gabrielle Giffords is expected to deliver to the U.S. Navy fleet in 2017.