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Keel laying ceremony

Keel laying at Austal USA's new facility was attended by representatives of Navy and Government

January 20, 2006

Austal USA hosts LCS keel laying

There was a lot of brass in evidence at an aluminum shipbuilding facility yesterday when Austal USA yesterday hosted a traditional U.S. Navy keel-laying ceremony at its new ship construction facility in Mobile, Alabama. The rite marked the start of construction on the U.S. Navy's new breed of surface combatant, the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS).

Austal is the designer and builder of the seaframe of the trimaran LCS developed by the industry team led by General Dynamics / Bath Iron Works.

Dr. Delores M. Etter, who recently moved into the hot seat as Assistant Secretary of the Navy--Research Development and Acquisition, authenticated the keel-laying by welding her initials into a section of the aluminum hull with the help of Austal fabricator James Woods.

Dr. Etter was one of more than 150 high-ranking officials from Government, Navy, the State of Alabama, and City and County of Mobile, who joined the entire Austal workforce to mark the occasion. Others included;

Senator Jeff Sessions (Alabama)

The Honorable Jo Bonner (U.S. Representative for Alabama)

Rear Admiral Charles S. Hamilton (Program Executive Officer for Ships)

Rear Admiral Michael Nowakowski (Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet)

Captain Donald Babcock (Navy Program Manager for LCS Program)

Rear Admiral Mark Edwards (Deputy Chief of Naval Operation for Warfare Requirements and Programs)

Mobile County Commissioners Mike Dean and Juan Chastang

Mobile City Council Members William Carroll, Connie Hudson, Fred Richardson and Gina Gregory

Rear Admiral Raydon Gates, RAN, (Head of Australian Defence Staff)

Austal Executive Chairman, John Rothwell, said that the keel-laying ceremony signified a "momentous occasion in the history of an Australian shipyard now designing and building the most revolutionary warship for the world's most powerful navy."

Senator Jeff Sessions commented "Today marks an important milestone as the U.S. Navy embarks on the construction of a new vessel that will carry it to the littorals worldwide. The General Dynamics-Austal partnership returns to Alabama the finest elements of advanced shipbuilding, and I am immensely pleased that we in Alabama are part of this new endeavor."