Another Naval combat ship made in Mobile is ready to set sail. The USS Jackson, LCS 6, a Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), was christened Saturday morning, March 22, on the Mobile River at Austal.
It’s the Navy’s first ship named after Jackson, Miss., was christened.
The LCS program has long been promoted by the Navy, but recently, it’s seen some cuts.
Some 52 of the LCS’s were going to be built in the US, but Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel recently cut that to 32, and this USS Jackson is one of those on that bill.
Senator Jeff Sessions, a Republican of Alabama, explained his concerns about the future while at the Austal christening event Saturday.
“So the talk is should we continue beyond the 32 or not,” said Sessions, “we want to be able to make sure that we communicate to every congressman, and every senator why this is important, why this is cost effective, why the navy has made this a priority for almost 18 years, because it’s lighter, faster, more flexible with more capabilities, and less expensive to build and operate.”
Congressman Bradley Byrne, of Alabama’s 1st District, told FOX10 a couple months ago he was a little worried about the future of the LCS ships, but he said now he’s seeing a bright future for the program.
“I was more concerned a couple months ago than I am now,” said Congressman Byrne, “I think we’re in the right direction. I think what we’re going to end up with is a modified version of the ship after we build the first 32.”
Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, said the LCS program could go one of three ways.
It could stay on its current track, it could be modified, or Naval officials will draw up a new design.
Saturday at the christening, Mabus said he is extremely happy with the work Austal USA has done on the LCS’s, but he does see the modification option a viable route in the future.
“This is not anything out of the ordinary,” explained Mabus, “we do it on every single ship type we have in the Navy, and what we do is we look at survivability, we look at what this ship is supposed to do, and does it meet the requirements.”
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has recently said before congress that he’s not confident the LCS’s meet those requirements.
And, Austal USA’s president, Craig Perciavalle, admits that does worry him.
But, he said he’s going to keep his some 4,000 employees working at their optimal performance.
“As long as we perform well, and we have a good product, which is what we do, then we feel that will put us at a competitive advantage going forward. and that’s the best we can do,” said Perciavalle.
reporting in mobile, kati weis, fox10 news.
Austal USA employs some 4,000 workers from across the Gulf Coast. Perciavalle said it took some 2,500 workers to build the USS Jackson.