Austal USA Littoral Combat Ship
Innovative Engineering and Design
Inducted in 2016
Established in 2000 on the banks of the Mobile River, Austal USA started its journey toward the design and construction of one of the United States Navy’s most innovative ships, the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS, USS Independence. The ship will allow the Navy the flexibility and speed it needs to advance and defend our national interests well into this century. All Austal-provided Littoral Combat Ships were built in Mobile, Alabama.
The seeds for the Austal’s entry into defense contracts were two large catamarans for Hawaii Superferry, Inc. To build these two ships, Austal USA increased its workforce, including engineers and designers, in a few short years. The workforce training and capital investments in maritime manufacturing required for the super ferries helped prepare the company for the LCS contract awarded in 2005. Since the contract was awarded, Austal USA expanded is manufacturing space to more than 700,000 square feet.
Design work for the LCS – Independence class has been mostly performed in Mobile, using local talent. With its workforce currently near 4,500, including more than 300 personnel in the Engineering Department, Austal USA is the largest manufacturing employer in the southern region of Alabama. Like so many of the state’s grand engineering projects, the LCS inspires the next generation of engineers, some of who work on this project or other critical shipbuilding efforts in Mobile. Austal’s commitment to the Port City and this country has helped economic development in our state and region, while strengthening national defense. It’s estimated the project has generated more than $380 million in wages through the creation of more than 14,800 direct and indirect jobs in the area.
The LCS – Independence Class is a highly maneuverable, high-speed trimaran built for use in littoral waters. Its advanced configuration brings a new level of support to the U.S. Navy. Specific areas of support are: mission configuration, smaller required crew compliments, stealth capabilities, innovative propulsion design, innovative maneuvering capabilities, cargo and aviation support along with fuel economy.
The ship is designed with the ability to change its mission packages as needed within days. The open architecture command and control system allows the LCS to accomplish critical warfighting missions including mine warfare, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare with inherent capabilities that also support missions such as special operations and maritime interdiction. This unique adaptability makes the LCS critical for the Navy’s future fleet, and is attracting bright sailors who want to sail with innovative technology.
With the next generation of Littoral Combat Ships will come even greater gain in technology and a continued call for skilled labor to support these new advances in ship design and production.