The U.S. Navy christened its tenth Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the future USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10), during a midday ceremony June 13 at Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Alabama. LCS 10 is named after former United States Representative Gabrielle Giffords.
«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».
During the event, Second Lady of the United States Doctor Jill Biden, the ship’s sponsor, smashed a champagne bottle on the bow as other dignitaries, including Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle and former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona and her husband Captain Mark Kelly, USN (Retired), were watching from the platform.
Though Gabby’s comments were brief, Giffords’ excitement shown through every word during Saturday’s christening ceremony. «Thank you to all the people who built this ship. She’s stealthy. She will defend freedom around the world. Go Navy», Giffords said.
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). The Independence variant team is led by General Dynamics (LCS-2 and LCS-4) and Austal USA (for the subsequent even-numbered hulls). Purchased under the innovative block-buy acquisition strategy, there are 12 ships currently under construction.
While capable of open-ocean tasking, LCS is intended to operate in the littorals – shallow, coastal waters. As such, the ships can operate in water as shallow as 20 feet/6 meter deep and can travel at speeds in excess of 40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h. USS Freedom (LCS-1) and USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) recently demonstrated these critical capabilities as part of their operational deployments to U.S. 7th Fleet in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Independence Variant of the LCS Class
Construction: Hull and superstructure – aluminium alloy
Length overall: 417 feet/127.1 m
Beam overall: 103 feet/31.4 m
Hull draft (maximum): 14.8 feet/4.5 m
Payload and capacities
Complement: Core Crew – 40
Mission crew – 36
Berthing: 76 in a mix of single, double & quad berthing compartments
Maximum mission load: 210 tonnes
Mission packages: ASW, SUW, MIW
Main engines: 2 × GE LM2500
2 × MTU 20V 8000
Waterjets: 4 × Wartsila steerable
Bow thruster: Retractable azimuthing
Speed: 40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h
Range: 3,500 NM/4,028 miles/6,482 km
Operational limitation: Survival in Sea State 8
Deck area: >21,527.8 feet2/2,000 m2
Launch and recovery: Twin boom extending crane
Loading: Side ramp
Internal elevator to hanger
Flight deck and hanger
Flight deck dimensions: 2 × SH-60 or 1 × CH-53
Hanger: Aircraft stowage & maintenance for 2 × SH-60
Weapons and sensors
1 × 57-mm gun
4 × 12.7-mm/.50 caliber guns
1 × Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) launcher
3 × weapons modules