General Dynamics awarded trimaran LCS contract

The US Navy has awarded a contract to a Bath Iron Works-led team for the construction of Coronado (LCS 4), the second Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) to feature an innovative, high-speed trimaran hull.
The 419-foot surface combatant ship, equipped with open architecture-based combat systems and computing environment developed by General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, will be manufactured by Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama.
It is scheduled for delivery to the Navy in May 2012.
The Littoral Combat Ship is a key element of the Navy’s plan to address asymmetric threats of the 21st century. Intended to operate in coastal areas, the ship will be fast, highly maneuverable and geared to supporting mine detection/elimination, anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare, particularly against small surface craft.
The Navy’s first trimaran LCS, Independence (LCS 2), is in the final stages of construction and testing in preparation for its upcoming sea trials.
“Recent maritime events have clearly validated the need for the US Navy to have the capabilities offered by LCS. We’re proud to be playing an important role in fulfilling that need,” said Jeff Geiger, president of Bath Iron Works. “Our team is ready to apply the lessons we’ve learned during the construction of Independence (LCS 2) to help make Coronado the most-affordable, most-effective LCS it can be.”

The ship’s open architecture computing environment – another key factor in meeting the US Navy’s requirements for a flexible, reconfigurable mission ship – enables industry’s most capable, affordable, non-proprietary solutions to be incorporated into the its core mission system.

Austal MD Bob Browning said the “award demonstrates a strong vote of confidence for the Austal-designed high speed aluminium trimaran seaframe, which has already proven itself in the commercial market.”
“With the US Navy’s ongoing commitment to a 55-vessel LCS program, as part of its 313 ship fleet, we are confident that our superior design and purpose-built US construction facilities put us in a good position to meet this important requirement.”

Browning said momentum generated by the latest LCS order and the recent JHSV award will accelerate the growth of the company’s US operations, which now plans to increase its workforce to more than 1300 when the LCS gets into full production next year.

Sea trials of Austal’s first LCS, the 127 metre “Independence” (LCS 2), are scheduled for mid-2009, with delivery expected later in the year. The vessel was officially christened in front of more than 1000 dignitaries during a ceremony held at Austal USA in October 2008.

Austal is a specialist Australian shipbuilder.    
(Editorial note: The LCS concept is similar to the SA Navy’s large “project Biro” OPV requirement.)