The ninth Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the future USS Charleston (LCS-18), finished acceptance trials earlier this month, the Navy said on Wednesday.
The Independence-variant ships are built by Austal USA in Mobile Ala., working under prime integrator General Dynamics [GD].
The acceptance trials finished on July 19 in the Gulf of Mexico, after a set of demonstrations both in-port and underway for the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV). These trials are usually the last major milestone before a ship is delivered to the Navy.
During these trials the Navy conducted tests to demonstrate the ship’s propulsion plant, ship handling abilities, and auxiliary systems.
When underway, LCS-18 demonstrated its bow thruster, twin boom extensible crane operations with an 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boat, surface and air self-defense detect-to-engage exercises, and demonstrated ship handling and maneuverability with high-speed steering and anchor operations.
“Another solid acceptance trial by the Navy and industry team in Mobile. I look forward to celebrating with the crew of the future USS Charleston when she is delivered later this summer,” LCS Program Manager Capt. Mike Taylor said in a statement.
After LCS-18 is delivered, it will undergo a post-delivery availability that covers crew training, certification, and familiarization exercises in Mobile.
After delivery and the availability, the Charleston is set to sail to San Diego, where it will be homeported with its fellow Independence-variant sister ships.
The previous LCS in the variant, the future USS Tulsa (LCS-16), was delivered last April and will be commissioned n San Francisco next February (Defense Daily, April 30).
Austal USA is also building the future Cincinnati (LCS-20), Kansas City (LCS-22), Oakland (LCS-24), and Mobile (LCS-26), which are all in various stages of construction. Austal also won contracts to build the future USS Savannah (LCS-28) and Canberra (LCS-30) in 2017.
Relatedly, the Navy awarded Austal USA a $15 million order against a previously awarded basic ordering agreement (BOA) to provide engineering and management services in support of work specification development, prefabrication efforts and material procurement for LCS-16's post-shakedown availability (PSA).
The PSA is conducted within a 16-20 week period between when a ship is transferred to the Navy and the shipbuilding and conversion Navy obligation work limiting date. This order covers program management, advance planning, engineering, design, prefabrication, and material kitting.
This work will be split between Mobile (60 percent) and San Diego (40 percent) and is expected to be finished by August 2019 while about $7 million is obligated at award time.