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U.S. Navy set to christen Austal’s Alabama-built USS Mobile — ‘Marvel of engineering’

The U.S. Navy on Saturday — which is National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day — will christen its newest Independence-variant littoral combat ship (LCS), the future USS Mobile (LCS 26), in its namesake city where Austal USA built the ship.

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) will deliver the christening ceremony’s keynote address. His wife, Rebecca, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of South Alabama, will serve as the ship’s sponsor. In a time-honored Navy tradition, she will christen the Alabama-built ship by breaking a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow. Congressman Byrne and Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) are widely known as being key champions of Austal’s LCS production in South Alabama.

In a release from the Department of Defense, acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly called the USS Mobile “a marvel of engineering.”

”She will extend our capabilities for any mission, from the middle of the ocean to the shallowest of waters, enhancing our ability to project power ashore and at sea,” Modly added. “This Independence-class LCS will extend the maneuverability and lethality of our fleet to confront the many challenges of a complex world.”

The Independence-variant LCS is a high-speed, shallow-draft focused-mission ship capable of operating independently or in a group. These ships are designed to defeat growing littoral threats and provide access and dominance along coastal waters. A fast, maneuverable and networked surface-combatant, LCS provides the required warfighting capabilities and operational flexibility to execute focused missions such as surface warfare, mine warfare and anti-submarine warfare.

The future USS Kansas City (LCS 22) recently completed acceptance trials in the Gulf of Mexico and became the 11th Independence-variant LCS built by Austal in Mobile to reach this important milestone.

The USS Montgomery (LCS 8) and USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) were recently deployed to Singapore and seven other Independence-variant LCS are homeported in San Diego.

The LCS program is currently at full-rate production and continuing its momentum at Austal’s Mobile manufacturing operations, with four ships besides the USS Mobile currently under construction in addition to the Kansas City now awaiting being officially commissioned.

The future USS Oakland (LCS 24) has launched and is itself preparing for acceptance trials. Final assembly is well underway on the future USS Savannah (LCS 28). Modules for the future USS Canberra (LCS 30) and the future USS Santa Barbara are under construction in the module manufacturing facility. The Mobile will be expected to launch following its christening. Acceptance trials will come after the launch.

LCS 26 is the fifth ship named in honor of Mobile, Alabama’s port city. According to the Department of Defense, the first Mobile was a side-wheel steamer that operated as a Confederate government operated blockade runner. It was captured by U.S. forces at New Orleans in April 1862, commissioned as Tennessee and later renamed Mobile.

The second Mobile was reportedly a passenger liner operated by Hamburg Amerika Lines between Germany and the United States until the outbreak of World War I. It was taken over by the Allied Maritime Council and assigned to the U.S. after the Armistice and commissioned March 1919.

The third Mobile (CL 63) was commissioned March 24, 1943. It participated in numerous campaigns in the Pacific during World War II and received 11 battle stars for her service by the time she was decommissioned in May of 1947.

The fourth Mobile (LKA 115) was an amphibious cargo ship that served from September 1969 until decommissioning in February of 1994.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn