ASX-listed Austal celebrated the metal cutting on the company’s 15th Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the USS Canberra.

Austal LCS program director Dave Growden started the router to cut the first piece of aluminium, signalling the start of construction.

Mr Growden has worked with Austal for more than 30 years; he completed his apprenticeship in Henderson, WA before transferring to the US when the LCS program began.

The LCS is a 127-metre frigate-sized vessel that is highly manoeuvrable and adaptable. The ship is designed to support focused mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare missions.

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US President Donald Trump announced LCS 30 was to be named the USS Canberra in a joint press conference with then-Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Nine LCSs are already in service with the United States Navy with the tenth to join shortly, having recently completed acceptance trials. With the start of construction of LCS 30, five vessels are in various stages of construction with an additional four vessels on order.

Austal CEO David Singleton said the LCS is now the second-largest surface ship class in production.

“In 2018, five LCS were delivered to the US fleet and three will be delivered in 2019, a pace of construction and delivery not seen in the United States since the 1990s,” he said.

“The team at Austal USA has cemented the company’s reputation in the United States for production efficiency and world leading technology in naval shipbuilding. It is a real honour for our company and the Littoral Combat Ship to represent the special relationship between Australia and the United States.” The future USS Canberra’s sponsor is Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Marise Payne. A ship’s sponsor plays a unique role for the US Navy, becoming part of the ship’s history, as an honorary permanent member of the crew and advocate. The sponsor typically attends all milestone events of the ships, most notably the christening of the vessel where it receives its official name to enter service.

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