OCTOBER 18, 2012 — Austal USA today held a keel-laying ceremony at its Mobile, Alabama, shipyard for the third Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) – Jackson (LCS 6), one of five Austal-designed 127-meter Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ships under contract with the U.S. Navy.
While traditional keel-laying ceremony marks the first significant milestone in the construction of the ship. However, Austal's modular approach to shipbuilding means that 35 of the 37 modules that will make-up the 127-meter aluminum trimaran are already being assembled. Austal therefore holds its keel-layings to mark the beginning of final assembly. Four LCS 6 modules have been moved from Austal's Module Manufacturing Facility (MMF), three of which are erected in the final assembly bay in their pre-launch position. The rest will follow over the coming months.
Dr. Katherine Holmes Cochran, the ship's sponsor, was present to weld her initials onto the keel plate as the Keel Authenticator. She was assisted by J.B. Craig, III, an "A" Class welder that has been part of the Austal team since November of 2011.
Dr. Cochran is the daughter of U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and his wife Rose Clayton Cochran. She was born in Jackson, Miss., and received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Mississippi. She is currently an associate professor at the University of Southern Mississippi. In 1991, Dr. Cochran served as the maid of honor as her mother sponsored the USS Barry (DDG 52).
Senator Cochran is a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee where he has worked successfully to support the Navy's shipbuilding programs.
"Jackson (LCS 6) is the first of ten Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ships awarded by the Navy to Austal as prime contractor," said Craig Perciavalle, Austal USA's Senior Vice President of Operations. "It is exciting to see our most recent facility additions come to life, with this ship being the first constructed utilizing Phase 2 of our Module Manufacturing Facility and the first ship assembled in our new Assembly Bay 5. None of this would be possible without the hard work of the great employees of Austal USA."