The Austal USA-built future USS Manchester (LCS-14) Littoral Combat Ship finished acceptance trials on December 15, the Navy said Dec. 27.

The trials for the seventh Independence-variant LCS included intense comprehensive tests by Austal’s industry team while the ship was in-port and underway in the Gulf of Mexico. This demonstrated the successful operation of the ship’s major systems and equipment including the propulsion plant, ship handling abilities, and auxiliary systems.

The USS Coronado (LCS 4) Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship sailing away. Photo: U.S. Navy
The USS Coronado (LCS 4) Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship sailing away. Photo: U.S. Navy

When underway LCS-14 also performed launch and recovery operations of the 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boat, surface and air self-defense detect-to-engage exercises, and demonstrated the ship’s maneuverability via high-speed steering and a four-hour full power run.,

Acceptance trials are conducted with the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) and are the last major milestone for LCS-14 before it is delivered to the U.S. Navy early this year.

The company highlighted the Manchester will be the second LCS Austal will have delivered to the Navy in under six months. Austal USA builds their LCS variants in Mobile, Ala.

“This is the fourth Austal-built Navy ship to reach this milestone this year, an amazing feat but not surprising considering the incredibly talented shipbuilders we employ here,” Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle, said in a statement.

“With LCS-14 now making final preparations for delivery and LCS-16 right behind her, we’re excited to see these ships join the fleet at such a steady pace, momentum that positions us well for the future,” he added.

LCS program manager Capt. Mike Taylor said in a separate statement that “the Navy/industry trials team in Mobile has found their stride and, with stability in the serial production line, are taking ships to trials with consistently improved performance at decreased cost.”

LCS-14 will next undergo delivery, post-delivery maintenance availability, and crew training and familiarization exercises in Mobile. After those steps are completed it will sail to Portsmouth, N.H. for commissioning. The Manchester is set to be homeported in San Diego, like all of the Independence-variant LCSs.

In September the Navy accepted delivery of Austal’s future USS Omaha (LCS-12), which is set to be commissioned in early 2018 in San Diego.

The company noted seven LCS ships are currently under production. The future USS Tulsa (LCS-16), Charleston (LCS-18), and Cincinnati (LCS-20) are preparing for trials. It is also finishing final assembly on the future Kansas City (LCS-22) and Oakland (LCS-24). The first aluminum was cut for the future USS Mobile (LCS-26) on Dec. 12.

The Navy awarded Austal USA construction contracts for LCS-28 (Defense Daily, June 26) and LCS-30 in 2017 (Defense Daily, Oct. 9). Congress set a cost cap for each LCS at up to $584 million.