Updated with additional images Aug. 13, 2014
The MONTGOMERY emerges from Austal USA’s building shed on August 5. (Thigpen Photography via Austal USA)
Both builders of the US Navy’s Littoral Combat Ships are busy cranking out new hulls, aiming at what could be a banner year for the program in 2015.
On August 5 in Mobile, Alabama, Austal USA rolled the Independence-class MONTGOMERY (LCS 8) out of its building shed onto a barge, which was then moved up the Mobile River to transfer the ship to a floating drydock. The LCS was launched the following day when the drydock was taken to deeper water and flooded.
Up in Marinette, Wisconsin, Lockheed Martin’s shipbuilding partner at Fincantieri Marinette Marine rolled the Freedom-class DETROIT (LCS 7) from its building shed into launch position on June 27. The launch, though, won’t take place until sometime this fall. Marinette is one of the few builders to use the sideways launch method – certainly the most spectacular launch process.
Each shipyard plans to deliver two ships to the Navy in 2015, making the first time four LCSs will be delivered in one year.
MONTGOMERY (LCS 8)
The MONTGOMERY is rolled out on the barge. The JACKSON (LCS 6), launched last year on Dec. 14, is fitting out at right, in front of the sheds where Austal assembles Joint High Speed Vessels. (Thigpen Photography via Austal USA)
The MONTGOMERY appears to be complete, although much work remains to be done. The ship’s mast is put in place after the lanch, since it wouldn’t clear the building shed doors. (Thigpen Photography via Austal USA)
Side by side view of Austal’s LCS production line. Note the mast is in place on the JACKSON, at right, and the ship’s 57mm gun mount forward is at full elevation. (Photo by David Stolt, Supervisor of Shipbuilding Gulf Coast, via Austal USA)
Now afloat, the MONTGOMERY is towed back to the shipyard on Aug. 6. (Thigpen Photography via Austal USA)
The 57mm gun mount forward and the SeaRAM mount atop the hangar are different colors because they’re painted, unlike the rest of the ship, which will retain its natural aluminum finish. Note the box enclosures aft of the gun and on either side atop the superstructure for future missile installations. (Thigpen Photography via Austal USA)
Back at the shipyard, the MONTGOMERY is nudged alongside to continue outfitting. (Thigpen Photography via Austal USA)
DETROIT (LCS 7)
The DETROIT emerges from the building shed on June 27. At right, the MILWAUKEE (LCS 5), launched last December, is fitting out. Both ships are to be delivered next year. (Lockheed Martin)
The ship is swung around to put her nose headed upriver. Note the stern door at left, leading to an internal mission bay. A side door to the mission bay — smaller than those fitted on early Freedom-class ships — is visible along the starboard side, above the first two orange transporters. The chains along the ship’s side are temporary fittings for the sideways launch. The ship’s water jets are clearly visible, used in place of conventional propellers, propeller shafts and rudders. (Lockheed Martin)
The DETROIT almost fully turned around. A small workshed covers the ring mount on the forward deck where the 57mm gun mount will be placed. (Lockheed Martin)
Now turned around, the DETROIT is rolled backwards toward the launch rails, visible at far right. (Lockheed Martin)
The move is finished for the day. Later this year, the ship will be moved further to the right, up on the launch rails along the Menominee River. (Lockheed Martin)
If it's on, over, under or around the water, I write about it. Ships and aircraft, units, tactics, leadership, strategies, acquisition, politics, industry. In the USA and around the world.
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