The second Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship class vessel Coronado was christened on January 14, 2012 during a ceremony at Austal’s shipyard in Mobile, Alabama, USA. The ship’s proven trimaran-hull design offers superior manoeuvrability and stability, endurance to travel 4,300 nautical miles at 18 knots, three weapon zones, capacity for any two mission packages simultaneously, and a flight deck larger than any other surface combatant other than aircraft carriers.
Susan Ring Keith is the ship’s sponsor. Upon her birth in Coronado, Susan Ring Keith joined a long family history associated with the Navy and “Coronado”. In addition to her father, both of her grandfathers and both of her uncles were career Naval Officers. Her two brothers followed their father into the naval service, with one brother retiring as a Rear Admiral.
In 1966, Susan’s mother, Eleanor Ring, christened the previous USS “Coronado” (LPD/AGF-11) and Susan served as Maid of Honour. In 2009, Susan was invited by the Secretary of the Navy to serve as Sponsor of “Coronado” (LCS 4). Susan’s daughter, Belle Keith Drouin, will follow in Susan’s footsteps by serving as the ship’s Matron of Honour.
The 127 metre all-aluminium vessel is capable of being outfitted with reconfigurable payloads (Mission Packages) which can be changed quickly to support mine countermeasure, anti-submarine and surface warfare missions. The vessel has a maximum speed of more than 45 knots.
This past summer, Austal celebrated the cutting of metal on “Jackson” (LCS 6), the first ship of Austal’s latest 10-ship LCS order worth over US$3.5 billion. “Montgomery” ( LCS 8 ) is also under contract as well as seven of 10 vessels in the US$1.6 billion Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) program, three of which are currently under construction – “USNS Spearhead” (JHSV 1), “Choctaw County” (JHSV 2) and JHSV 3.
For the LCS and JHSV programs, Austal is teamed with General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics. As the ship systems integrator, General Dynamics is responsible for the design, integration and testing of the ship’s electronic systems including the combat system, networks, and seaframe control. General Dynamics’ proven open architecture approach provides affordable capabilities to the fleet quickly and efficiently.
Celebrating its 13-year anniversary of US operations this month, Austal has grown into one of southern Alabama’s largest employers with over 2,400 employees on staff hailing from the Mobile Area, Mississippi, Florida, and beyond. Under the current workload, Austal expects to employ over 4,000 Americans by the end of 2013, and will be ready to help the US Navy meet any national security contingency ahead.
Shipbuilding Tribune Staff, January 17, 2012; Image: austal