USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (T ESB 4) Christening

Travie Ross, daughter of Hershel “Woody” Williams, christens a ship named after her father. Photo by Chris Stone

(This article originally appeared courtesy General Dynamics NASSCO)

On Saturday, October 21, General Dynamics NASSCO hosted a christening and naming ceremony for the Navy’s newest Expeditionary Sea Base, the USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4).

The ship’s namesake, Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams, spoke at the ceremony, and his two daughters, Travie Ross and Tracie Ross, officially named and christened the ship with the traditional break of a champagne bottle alongside the ship. Williams, a retired U. S. Marine, received the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. He is the last surviving recipient of the Medal of Honor from that battle.

Several dignitaries provided remarks at the event, including Sen. Joe Manchin; Major General Eric M. Smith, Commanding General, 1st Marine Division, U.S. Marine Corps; Rear Admiral William J. Galinis, Program Executive Officer, Ships, U.S. Navy; and Vice Admiral Dixon R. Smith, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Fleet Readiness and Logistics, U.S. Navy.

NASSCO President Kevin Graney remarked, “Every day we as shipbuilders and repairers come together to be a part of something much larger than ourselves. The ships we design, construct and maintain serve a mission that is vital to our nation and the defense of freedom. Like every Marine, this ship is adaptable. Like its namesake, this ship is a force multiplier. We could not be more honored and more proud to design, build and soon deliver the USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams.”

USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams is the Navy’s second ESB ship. The 784-foot-long ship will serve as a flexible platform to support a variety of missions, including air mine countermeasures, counter-piracy operations, maritime security and humanitarian missions. The ship will provide for accommodations for up to 250 personnel, a 52,000-square-foot flight deck, fuel and equipment storage, and will also support MH-53 and MH-60 helicopters with an option to support MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft. Currently nearing the end of construction, the ship will be delivered to the U.S. Navy in February 2018.

General Dynamics NASSCO has delivered three ships in the class to the Navy: USNS Montford Point (ESD 1), USNS John Glenn (ESD 2) and USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3). USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) is the fourth ship to be constructed by NASSCO shipbuilders under the program. A fifth ship is currently under construction, with a planned delivery of March 2019, and funding for a sixth ship has passed several Congressional committees.

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Future USS Fort Lauderdale (LPD 28) Keel Authenticated

(Photo Courtesy SeaWaves)

(This article originally appeared courtesy

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (NNS) — The keel for the future USS Fort Lauderdale (LPD 28) was authenticated during a ceremony at Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII), Oct. 13.

Keel laying is the traditional start of ship construction. In the age of wooden ships, ‘keel laying’ referred to the laying down of the piece of timber serving as the backbone of the ship or keel. Although modern manufacturing techniques allow fabrication of portions of a ship to begin many months earlier, the joining together of modules is considered the formal beginning of a ship.

The keel was authenticated to be “truly and fairly laid” by the ship’s sponsor, Meredith Berger, former Deputy Chief of Staff to the Secretary of the Navy who previously served as a senior policy advisor within the Department of Defense, the Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Florida.

“I’m very honored to have Ms. Berger here today to take part in this event,” said Capt. Brian Metcalf, LPD 17 class program manager for Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships. “Authentication of the ship’s keel is a major ship event and we’re looking forward to leveraging the experience and expertise of the Ingalls Shipbuilding team to achieve future production milestones.”

San Antonio-class ships are designed to support embarking, transporting, and landing elements of over 800 Marines by landing craft, air cushion vehicles, helicopters, or MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. These ships support a variety of amphibious assault, special operations or expeditionary warfare missions, operating independently or as part of amphibious readiness groups, expeditionary strike groups, or joint task forces. The versatility of these ships also allow support of humanitarian efforts; USS New York (LPD 21), a sister ship, is currently underway from Mayport, Florida, offering support in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

LPD-28 is named in honor of the Florida city and will be the first Navy vessel to bear the name and will be the Navy’s 12th San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship. The future USS Fort Lauderdale is planned for delivery in 2021. Eleven LPD-17 ships have been delivered, the most recent being USS Portland (LPD 27), which was delivered Sept. 18, 2017. HII is also procuring long lead time material and advance procurement in support of LPD-29.

As one of the Defense Department’s largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, and boats and craft.

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USS Tripoli (LHA 7) Christening

Ship’s sponsor Lynne Mabus (right) smashes a bottle of sparkling wine against the bow of the Ingalls-built amphibious assault ship Tripoli (LHA 7). Also pictured (left to right) are Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss.; Capt. Kevin Meyers, Tripoli’s prospective commanding officer; acting Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Dee; Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias; and Lynne Mabus’ husband, former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. (Photo by Lance Davis/HII)

(This article originally appeared courtesy of GlobeNewswire)

PASCAGOULA, Miss., Sept. 16, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Ingalls Shipbuilding division christened the amphibious assault ship Tripoli (LHA 7) today with approximately 2,000 guests in attendance.

Lynne Mabus, wife of former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, is the ship’s sponsor and officially christened Tripoli after successfully breaking a bottle of sparkling wine across its bow.

“I’d like to thank the shipbuilders, who, through what must be supernatural abilities, have built something that goes beyond anything nature could create,” Mabus said. “This ship was built by the hands of the women and men of Huntington Ingalls, but it looks as if it was built by the hands of the gods. She is made of 45,000 tons of steel and sweat, and she will carry on her back and in her belly aircraft such as the Harrier, Osprey, Lightning, King Stallion, Viper, Night Hawk. She will also be a place our sailors and Marines will call home.”

Thomas Dee, who is currently serving as Under Secretary of the Navy, gave the ceremony’s keynote address. “When USS Tripoli, the newest America-class amphibious assault ship, joins the fleet, we’ll be a stronger, more flexible and better Navy and Marine Corps team,” he said. “The ship will be a force-multiplier, and her crew will proudly serve our country for decades to come. I am grateful to the men and women of Ingalls Shipbuilding for their dedication and to the citizens of Pascagoula for their unwavering support as we continue to make our Navy stronger.”

Tripoli will be the third ship to bear the name that commemorates the capture of Derna in 1805 by a small force of U.S. Marines and approximately 370 soldiers from 11 other nations. The battle, memorialized in the Marines’ Hymn with the line “to the shores of Tripoli,” brought about a successful conclusion to the combined operations of the First Barbary War.

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USS Charleston Christening

MOBILE, Ala. (Aug. 26, 2017) Ship’s sponsor Charlotte Riley breaks a bottle of champagne across the bow during the christening ceremony for the littoral combat ship USS Charleston (LCS 18). At the ceremony, Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Richard V. Spencer gave the principal address. Spencer is in the area to view the ongoing shipyard work at Austal USA and meet Sailors and civilian employees who support the Navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Armando Gonzales/Released)

(This article originally appeared on

By Ashley Remkus

The U.S. Navy’s 18th Littoral Combat Ship, the USS Charleston, was christened today at Austal USA’s Mobile shipyard.

Among those in attendance at the christening ceremony were Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer and Charlotte Riley, sponsor of the future USS Charleston (LCS 18).

The ship, which is part of Austal’s $3.5 billion contract with the U.S. Navy, is named for Charleston, the oldest city in South Carolina.

“Today marks another major milestone with the christening of this remarkable warship,” said Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle in a news release. “Our talented shipbuilding team is honored to provide our Navy with an extraordinarily capable vessel that will honor the great city of Charleston as she operates around the world.”

Austal said the LCS program is at full-rate production, delivering two ships a year and is continuing its momentum at Austal USA with seven ships currently under construction:

  • Omaha (LCS 12) will be delivered in the coming weeks
  • Manchester (LCS 14) is preparing for trials
  • Tulsa (LCS 16) will begin trials at the end of the year
  • Final assembly is well underway on Cincinnati (LCS 20)
  • Modules for Kansas City (LCS 22) and Oakland (LCS 24) are under construction

At today’s ceremony, Riley headlined the group of officials, naval guests, civic leaders, community members and Austal employees in Austal’s final assembly bay. Riley moved to Charleston in 1965 where she met her husband, Joseph P. Riley, Jr., who led the city of Charleston for 40 years beginning in 1975 when he was first elected Mayor, according to Austal.

Riley, an active community volunteer, began in the Junior League of Charleston and served as a tutor in remedial reading for a school for troubled boys, serving on their board for a number of years. She also served on the Big Brothers Big Sisters board, as well as the board for Charleston’s homeless shelter. As a volunteer for her church, Mrs. Riley supported Meals on Wheels and presently serves on their altar guild.

Christening video courtesy of Austal: 

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USS Rafael Peralta (DDG 115) Commissioned in San Diego

SAN DIEGO (July 29, 2017) The crew of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Rafael Peralta (DDG 115) mans the ship during its commissioning ceremony at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, Calif. Rafael Peralta honors Marine Corps Sgt. Rafael Peralta, who was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for actions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zackary Alan Landers/Released)

(This article originally appeared courtesy of U.S. Navy/Phil Ladoucuer, Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class)

The Navy’s newest Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, USS Rafael Peralta (DDG 115) was commissioned in a ceremony at Naval Air Station North Island, July 29.

The ship is named in honor of Navy Cross recipient Marine Corp Sgt. Rafael Peralta. During the second battle of Fallujah, he smothered a grenade with his body, absorbing the majority of the blast. He was killed instantly, but saved the lives of his fellow Marines.

The Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Robert B. Neller, gave the principal address. In his remarks, he thanked the family of Rafael Peralta, in particular his mother, Rosa Maria Peralta.

“Thank you for raising a man of character and virtue,” he said. “We need more people like him in our world.”

Neller said that a ship required three things: A hull, a name, and a crew.

“And when you put those three things together, you create more than just a ship; it’s a lifeform,” he said. “This is more than just another commissioning. It marks the commemoration of a life and the immortality of a hero. Sergeant Peralta’s legacy will forever be part of this ship. All he ever wanted to be was an American, to serve his country.”

Vice Adm. Nora Tyson, commander, Third Fleet, stepped up to the podium with the ship’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Brian Ribota and placed the ship in commission.

“On behalf of the Secretary of the Navy and for the President of the United States, I hereby place United States Ship Rafael Peralta in commission,” she said. “May God bless and guide this warship and all who shall sail in her.”

Rosa Maria Peralta, mother of Sgt. Peralta, is the ship’s sponsor. Her sponsorship duties saw her christen the ship in Bath, Maine and during the commissioning ceremony, she gave the order to the ship’s crew to bring the ship to life, first in Spanish and then in English:

“Officers and crew of USS Rafael Peralta, man our ship and bring her to life!”

The crew enthusiastically replied from its formation on the pier.

“Aye, aye ma’am!” they yelled, and sprinted aboard the ship as the Navy Band Southwest played Anchors Aweigh, followed by a flyover by two U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys.

Commander Ribota thanked the guests for attending the ceremony. He then reminded everyone of another constant presence.

“One last person who is here for us today, just three miles away, on Fort Rosencrantz, where he is buried,” he said. “Sgt. Rafael Peralta has the over watch and always will. We will always render honors as we come in and out of port here in San Diego.”

Ribota also recognized the hard work and determination displayed by his crew – the men and women who made this special day possible.

“In less than three months after moving aboard, they flawlessly sailed this 9,200-ton greyhound over 6,000 miles to get here to San Diego,” he said. “We have all come a long way in a very short time.”

Peralta was born on April 7, 1979 in Mexico City, Mexico. The son of Rafael and Rosa Peralta, he was the oldest of four children. Immigrating to the United States with his family as a teenager, he graduated from Morse High School in San Diego, California in1997. He joined the United States Marine Corps in 2000, immediately after qualifying for a green card. He became an American citizen while serving in the Corps.

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Rafael Peralta is a multi-mission surface combatant capable of conducting anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and anti-surface warfare. As a multi-mission platform, it is capable of sustained combat operations supporting forward presence, maritime security, sea control and deterrence.

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USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Commissioned

NORFOLK (July 22, 2017) Sailors man the rails of the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) during its commissioning ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. Ford is the lead ship of the Ford-class aircraft carriers, and the first new U.S. aircraft carrier designed in 40 years. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Andrew J. Sneeringer/Released)

(This article originally appeared on

By Ens. Corey Todd Jones

NORFOLK (NNS) — President Donald J. Trump commissioned the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) at a commissioning ceremony July 22.

A commissioning is a day of celebration, and honors the dedication, team work, and collaboration of Sailors, legislators, shipbuilders, program managers, and the ship’s sponsor in delivering the ship to the fleet.

Trump landed on the flight deck in Marine One and was greeted by Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Acting Secretary of the Navy Sean Stackley, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, and USS Gerald R. Ford Commanding Officer Capt. Rick McCormack.
Over 10,000 friends and family members attended the event, watching the festivities from the hangar bay, the pier and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69).

Distinguished members of the party offered remarks to honor the occasion.

“Wherever this vessel cuts through the horizon, our allies will rest easy and our enemies will shake with fear because everyone will know that America is coming and America is coming strong,” said Trump. “Our true strength is our people. Our greatest weapon is all of you. Our nation endures because we have citizens who love America and who are willing to fight for America.”

He continued, “We are so very blessed with warriors who are willing to serve America in the greatest fighting force in history, the United States military. Today this ship officially begins its role in the noble military history of our great nation.”

Stackley also addressed the crowd.

“So skipper, as we marvel at the technology and the daunting numbers that measure this ship, never lose sight that in times of crisis, you will be the first to respond, and when called upon, you will deliver the final word in the bidding of our nation,” said Stackley. “Whenever you sail, wherever you sail, you will be a symbol of Unites States resolve and you will be a symbol of the man whose name you bear.”

After the ship’s sponsor and President Ford’s daughter Susan Ford Bales gave the traditional command to “Man our ship and bring her to life,” Ford Sailors ran up the brows and manned the rails as the band played “Anchor’s Aweigh.”

McCormack expressed his pride in the work his crew has done to get the ship ready to serve in the fleet.

“The Sailors aboard today are among our nation’s finest,” said McCormack. “They are talented, driven, innovative, dedicated, and passionate about what they do and I am very proud to be their commanding officer. Team Wolverine, I have the utmost faith and confidence in your abilities to handle any challenge ahead, and I can think of no better team to take this ship to sea.”

After the ceremony, the ship was opened to the general public for tours, which included the flight deck, the commanding officer’s in-port cabin, pilot house, mess decks, fo’c’sle, and the newly opened tribute room.

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is the lead ship in the Ford-class of aircraft carrier, the first new class in more than 40 years, and will begin the phased replacement of Nimitz-class carriers.

CVN-78 honors the 38th president of the United States and pays tribute to his lifetime of service in the Navy, in the U.S. government and to the nation. During World War II Ford attained the rank of lieutenant commander in the Navy, serving on the light carrier USS Monterey (CVL 26). Ford became president in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal and served in the country’s highest office from 1974-1977.

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USS John Finn (DDG 113) Commissioning

PEARL HARBOR (July 15, 2017) The crew of the Navy’s newest Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, USS John Finn (DDG 113) brings the ship to life during its commissioning ceremony. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Aiyana Paschal)

(This article originally appeared courtesy of U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jeff Troutman, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West Det. Hawaii)

One of the Navy’s newest Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, USS John Finn (DDG 113), was brought to life and into the fleet July 15 at Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor – a fitting commissioning venue, as the namesake’s Dec. 7, 1941, heroic actions 30 miles away at Kaneohe Bay are the stuff of Navy legend.

Chief Aviation Ordnanceman John Finn, was World War II’s first Medal of Honor recipient whom Adm. Chester Nimitz said displayed, “magnificent courage in the face of certain death” during the attack on Pearl Harbor and other Oahu military targets in 1941. Finn manned a .50-caliber machine gun while under heavy enemy machine gun fire. Although wounded, he continued to fight until ordered to vacate his post to seek medical attention. Following first aid treatment, he returned to action and led the charge to rearm aircraft returning from missions.

John Finn is the 63rd Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and was delivered to the Navy from shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries on the 75th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 2016.

“I can’t think of a more fitting place to commission this ship than right here at Pearl Harbor, where we can honor the legacy of John Finn and all Americans from the ‘Greatest Generation’ and reflect on the blessings and costs of liberty,” remarked Adm. Harry Harris, Jr., commander, U.S. Pacific Command. “Thankfully, America has always been blessed to have strong women and men who find the will and summon the courage to endure against overwhelming odds; patriots like John Finn, who answered the call to defend our nation in her darkest hour.”

Recognizing the ship’s motto to “stand fast and fight,” Harris praised the ship’s firepower and capabilities as a testament to its namesake’s readiness in battle and determination in the face of danger. The Navy’s newest ship and her crew is ready to deliver – just like Chief Finn did as he manned a machine gun while wounded and under intense enemy fire.

“John Finn brings both the saber and the shield into the fight,” said Harris. “Truly, the advanced combat systems, coupled with the innovative spirit and the killer instinct of her amazing crew, are powerful reminders of our readiness to fight tonight. This warship is the embodiment of America’s resolve to protect our homeland and defend our allies.”

Harris pointed out that the Aegis-capable destroyers like John Finn expand America’s projection of power and leadership in the Pacific.

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“We believe in peace through strength – smart power backed by hard power,” Harris said. “And this ship, hard power personified, sends a clear signal to our allies, to our friends and to our adversaries – we will remain laser focused on the Indo-Asia-Pacific because what happens here matters to the United States.”

Approximately 2,000 guests, including more than 50 friends and relatives of John Finn’s family, attended the commissioning ceremony.

The ship was officially placed in commission by Harris. Its Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Micheal Wagner, a native of Minnesota, leads the crew of 300 officers and enlisted personnel and praised his crew as worthy of the standard set forth by the ship’s namesake.

“I’m truly honored and humbled to be standing here today, not only because I’m in command of the Navy’s newest destroyer, but because I’ve been given the opportunity to lead some of the finest Sailors I’ve ever met,” said Wagner. “The men and women manning this ship today are some of the finest service members society has to offer today. They come from all over the United States. Some even come from different countries. But make no mistake, they are all willing and enthusiastic about completing the mission. These are men and women of action, ready to go into action if required, just like John Finn exhibited.”

The ship’s sponsor, Laura Stavridis, the wife of retired Adm. James Stavridis, gave the order to, “man our ship and bring her to life!”

The crowd then witnessed this time-honored tradition, as members of the crew ran aboard the ship and manned the rails, as the ship’s systems came online – radars and weapon systems began to spin, the chaff launcher popped, and alarms sounded – all symbolizing the ship “coming to life.”

John Finn is a multi-mission surface combatant capable of conducting anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare. As a multi-mission platform, it is capable of sustained combat operations supporting forward presence, maritime security, sea control and deterrence.

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USS Billings Christening

MARINETTE, Wisc. (July 1, 2017) LCS-15’s sponsor Sharla Tester, the wife of Montana Sen. Jon Tester, the ranking member of the Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committee, christens the future USS Billings. Once commissioned, LCS-15 will be the first ship of its name in naval service. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin/Released)

(This article originally appeared on The Maritime Executive)

On July 1, the Lockheed Martin-Fincantieri Marinette Marine consortium launched the 15th Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) into Wisconsin’s Menominee River. Ship sponsor Sharla D. Tester christened LCS 15, the future USS Billings, in Navy tradition by breaking a champagne bottle across the ship’s bow.

“As a lifelong Montanan, there is no greater honor than to serve as the sponsor of the future USS Billings and to help bring this magnificent warship one step closer to joining the fleet,” Tester said. “I know the people of Billings – and all Montanans – look forward to supporting Billings and her future crews for decades to come.”

LCS 15 will be the first U.S. Navy ship to bear the name of Montana’s largest city. She will undergo additional outfitting and testing at Fincantieri Marinette Marine before her delivery next year.

“The Freedom-variant LCS plays a critical role in the U.S. Navy’s fleet, and we are committed to getting Billings and her highly capable sister ships into combatant commanders’ hands as quickly as possible,” said Joe North, vice president of Littoral Ships and Systems. “These flexible ships will help the Navy achieve its goals of growing the fleet rapidly and affordably.”

The Lockheed Martin-led industry team is currently in full-rate production of the Freedom-variant of the LCS, and it has delivered four ships to the U.S. Navy to date. The future USS Billings is one of eight ships in various stages of construction at Fincantieri Marinette Marine, with one more in long-lead production.

“We are proud to be building the USS Billings and her sister ships at the heartland’s only naval shipyard,” said Jan Allman, Fincantieri Marinette Marine president and CEO. “Today’s launch and christening is a testament to the hard work of the more than 2,500 Michigan and Wisconsin workers who pass through the shipyard’s gates, put on their hard hats and build American warships.”

The Lockheed Martin-led LCS consortium says that the Freedom variant costs less than a third of a brand new Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, making it the Navy’s most affordable surface combatant shipbuilding program. Supporters contend that the ships are essential if the Navy wants to grow its fleet towards a force structure target of 355 vessels. However, the Government Accountability Office and the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation have expressed reservations about the two LCS classes’ survivability and lethality, and the Navy is currently reviewing its plans to purchase an uprated “frigate” variant of one of the two designs.

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Austal Celebrates Christening Of Manchester (LCS 14)

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen christens the USS Manchester (LCS 14) at Austal’s Mobile, AL facility. (Photo Credit: Austal)

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen christens the USS Manchester (LCS 14) at Austal’s Mobile, AL facility. (Photo Credit: Austal)

Story Courtesy Austal USA/General Dynamics

MOBILE, Ala. – Austal officials joined ship sponsor U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen and many distinguished guests in celebrating the christening of the nation’s 14th littoral combat ship (LCS), the future USS Manchester, here Saturday, May 7, 2016.

Manchester (LCS 14) is the fifth LCS in Austal’s 11-ship, contract worth over $3.5 billion. With its shallow draft of 14 feet, the Austal-built Independence-variant LCS is an advanced high-speed and agile 419-foot aluminium trimaran combat ship that combines superior seakeeping, endurance and speed with the volume and payload capacity needed to support emerging missions.

“On behalf of Austal USA’s shipbuilding team, one of the most talented that I’ve ever worked with, we are proud to provide our sailors with an amazing warship that will honor the great city of Manchester as she defends our nation,” said Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle. “We’re equally excited to share this celebration with an amazing patriot in Senator Shaheen who has served in her role as both Governor and Senator, and now gives her spirit as the sponsor to this awesome ship.”

Shaheen, the only woman in U.S. history to be elected both a Governor and a United States Senator, has served in the Senate since 2009. She has been committed to serving the citizens of New Hampshire for decades and is known for her common-sense leadership, hard work and dedication to improving the lives of the middle class  As New Hampshire’s Governor, Shaheen helped create nearly 67,000 new jobs while keeping New Hampshire’s tax burden the lowest in the country. She and her husband, Bill – a New Hampshire native – live in Madbury and have three daughters, Stefany, Stacey and Molly (Matron of Honor), and seven grandchildren.

Traditionally, the christening of a ship is where the ship’s sponsor blesses the ship by breaking the bottle of champagne on the bow of the ship and ceremonially gives the ship its name. The roll of sponsorship represents a lifelong relationship with the ship and her crew.

The future USS Manchester (LCS 14), will launch in mid-May and is scheduled for delivery in 2017. She has a maximum speed of more than 40 knots, a voluminous 28,000 sf mission bay, and a flight deck capable of simultaneously holding two H-60 helicopters.

Austal’s LCS program is in full swing with three ships delivered and seven ships under construction at this time. Montgomery (LCS 8) conducted acceptance trials late last week.  Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) and Omaha (LCS 12) are preparing for trials. Final assembly is well underway on Tulsa (LCS 16) and modules for Charleston (LCS 18) andCincinnati (LCS 20) are under construction in Austal’s Module Manufacturing Facility.

The company has also been contracted by the U.S. Navy to build 10 Expeditionary Fast Transports (EPF). Of the 10 ships included in the $1.6 billion block-buy contract, six have been delivered.

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Susie Buffett Christen USS Omaha

MOBILE, Ala. (Dec. 19, 2015) Susan A. Buffett, ship's sponsor for the littoral combat ship Pre-Commissioning Unit, Omaha (LCS 12), breaks a bottle across the ship's bow during a christening ceremony at Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael C. Barton/Released)151219-N-OR477-130  Join the conversation:

MOBILE, Ala. (Dec. 19, 2015) Susan A. Buffett, ship’s sponsor for the littoral combat ship Pre-Commissioning Unit, Omaha (LCS 12), breaks a bottle across the ship’s bow during a christening ceremony at Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael C. Barton/Released)151219-N-OR477-130

Story courtesy WPMI/UTV44

MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) – On Saturday, Austal USA delivered the Navy’s latest littoral combat ship at its shipyard in downtown Mobile.

Despite the talk of cutbacks, the mood downtown was upbeat as local leaders vow to fight and keep the ship building program alive for the Port City.

The USS Omaha is the fourth LCS ship to be christened at Austal. This as Washington politicians debate the future of the Navy’s littoral combat ships. “Ship numbers and ship counts have been banded around for political gain and when that happens they do a disservice to our sailors, to our marines and to our ship builders,” said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.

“For as long as they say we need these ships and as long as Congress supports that we feel we will be in a pretty good shape and a good place going forward,” said Craig Perciavalle, President of Austal USA.

This LCS is a 419-foot aluminum trimaran, capable of being outfitted for a variety of missions. Missions at sea that may be affected after defense officials told the navy this week the LCS program may be cut back.

Alabama’s Congressional Delegation vows to fight for the program which employs more than 4,000 workers in Mobile. “There’s going to be a broad based coalition in Congress to push back at what the Secretary of Defense has proposed. Now this is a proposal. The final decision on this is with the United States Congress,” said Republican Congressman Bradley Byrne.

Defense officials say they want only one company to build future vessels. Currently Austal USA is one of two ship building companies that builds the combat ships.

The new plan calls for building only six of the combat ships between the fiscal years of 2017 through 2020, that’s eight less than the Navy submitted in its original plan.

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