The US Navy has taken delivery of two significant assets in two separate handovers on December 21 and December 22.
The first to be handed over was the future USS Canberra (LCS30), the 15th Independence-class littoral combat ship Austal has built for the United States Navy. The delivery ceremony on December 21 also marked the second LCS delivery to the navy by Austal this year.
This delivery was of particular significance, as the vessel was named after Australia’s national capital, Canberra and was sponsored by Australia’s Foreign Minister, Senator the Honourable Marise Payne.
Canberra is the second ship to honor the loss of the Australian cruiser HMAS Canberra during the Battle of Savo Island in World War II. It is also the 15th Independence-variant LCS and the 26th LCS to join the Fleet. Canberra completed acceptance trials with the Board of Inspection and Survey in November, the final milestone prior to her official transfer from the shipbuilder.
Commissioning is planned for summer 2022, according to the navy.
Four more LCS are currently under construction at Austal USA, including the recently launched future USS Santa Barbara (LCS 32) and future USS Augusta (LCS 34). Modules are under construction on the future USS Kingsville (LCS 36) and the future USS Pierre (LCS 38). Two Expeditionary Fast Transport vessels (EPF’s 13 and 14) are also under construction at the shipyard.
Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC) 103 delivery
In a second ceremony a day later, the navy accepted delivery of the fourth Ship to Shore Connector (SSC), Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC) 103.
LCACs/SSCs are used primarily to haul vehicles, heavy equipment, and supplies through varied environmental conditions from amphibious ships to over the beach.
The navy said the delivery of this craft would significantly enhance the Navy and Marine Corps team’s capability to execute a broad spectrum of missions, from humanitarian assistance and disaster response to multidimensional amphibious assault.
“LCACs provide our Navy and Marine Corps team with the needed capability to complete their missions with additional agility and speed,” said Capt. Scot Searles, program manager, Amphibious Assault and Connectors Programs, Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships. “The reliability and flexibility of these next generation craft make them an essential asset to the fleet as they protect the maritime domain now and in the future.”
LCACs are built with similar configurations, dimensions, and clearances to the legacy LCAC – ensuring the compatibility of this next-generation air cushion vehicle with existing well deck equipped amphibious ships, as well as the expeditionary transfer dock.
The LCAC program is currently in serial production on LCACs 104 – 115. Recently, LCAC 101, successfully completed controlled damage testing, an event equivalent to the total ship survivability testing performed on battle force class ships to demonstrate mission readiness and survivability.
Textron is delivering LCACs 104 to 115 under a $386 million contract from April 2020.