Austal christened the future USS Jackson (LCS 6) March 22 at its state-of-the-art shipyard in Mobile, Ala.
Jackson is the first of 10 Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) that the U.S. Navy has awarded to Austal as prime contractor.
The 127-meter aluminum trimaran 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 40 knots. Jackson was launched in December and is making preparations for trials and delivery by the end of the year.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus officially named the ship “Jackson” at a ceremony at Austal USA on March 24, 2011. According to Secretary Mabus, “The selection of Jackson honors the great state capitol Jackson, Mississippi.” This is the first ship to bear the city’s name.
The ship’s sponsor, and today’s guest of honor, Katherine Holmes Cochran was born in Jackson, Mississippi, and grew up outside of Washington, D.C. She graduated from St. Agnes School for Girls in Alexandria, Virginia, where she participated in the Johns Hopkins Gifted and Talented Search and received the Montgomery Award for the Humanities. She studied English and French at the University of Richmond, spending a semester abroad in Strasbourg, France.
Kate served as maid of honor when her mother, Rose Clayton Cochran, sponsored the USS Barry (DDG 52) in 1991. She returned to Mississippi to work with the Mississippi Teacher Corps, teaching French at Brookhaven High School and earning a master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Mississippi. After a year in Mexico teaching English at the American School of Tampico, she completed a Ph.D. in English at the University of Mississippi. She is currently an associate professor at the University of Southern Mississippi, where she directs the English Licensure Program, works with the South Mississippi Writing Project, and teaches courses in southern literature.
“Dr. Cochran is the perfect sponsor for Jackson”, said Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle. “Following her proud family tradition of service to Mississippi, she has dedicated her life to the education of the youth of Mississippi.”
Over 400 naval and shipyard guests attended the ceremony, which was held on the east bank of the Mobile River at Austal’s waterfront facility. The Honorable Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, was the principal speaker at the event.
Austal USA President, Craig Perciavalle, praised the ship, saying, “With its immense volume and its inherent design margin, the Jackson’s trimaran seaframe also has the ability, with relative ease, to be upgunned with existing weapons in inventory, or future weapons as they are developed.” He also praised the shipbuilders, saying “this is a great ship, built by great Navy shipbuilders, master craftsman who work so hard to bring this revolutionary ship to life. You should take pride in this day, in the product you build, and in the service you’re providing this great nation.”
The LCS program is in full swing at Austal USA with five ships under construction at this time. Montgomery (LCS 8) is being assembled in Bay 4 in preparation for launch in the spring. Final assembly has begun in Austal’s Bay 5 on Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) and modules for Omaha (LCS 12) are under construction in the Module Manufacturing Facility. Fabrication on Manchester (LCS 14) began in January. Coronado (LCS 4) delivered to the Navy in September, and is scheduled to be commissioned at a ceremony in Coronado, Calif. in April.
Austal has been contracted by the U.S. Navy to build ten 103-meter JHSVs under a 10-ship, $1.6 billion contract, two of which have already been delivered, and ten 127-meter Independence-variant LCS class ships, eight of which are a part of a 10-ship, $3.5 billion contract.
For the LCS and JHSV programs, Austal, as prime contractor, is teamed with General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems. For the LCS program, General Dynamics is the ship systems integrator, responsible for the design, integration and testing of the navigation systems, C4I, and aviation systems.
Austal USA is a full-service shipyard offering design, construction and high-speed vessel service and repair. As Austal USA continues to expand its service and repair capabilities, the company is well-positioned for new business with engineering, test and trials capabilities, and a new waterfront facility on the Mobile Bay waterfront.