USS Manchester (LCS-14), the latest Independence-class littoral combat ship, was commissioned in Portsmouth, N.H. on Saturday.
With the commissioning of Manchester complete, the Navy now has a dozen littoral combat ships in the fleet. Manchester is the seventh littoral combat ship built by Austal USA to enter the fleet. On May 5, Manchester set sail from Austal’s Mobile, Ala., shipyard for the commissioning ceremony in New Hampshire, according to a Navy statement.
“USS Manchester is a modern marvel and an example of the increased capability that comes from a true partnership with the American industry,” Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer said in a statement released before the commissioning. “The ship honors the city of Manchester and the patriotic citizens of New Hampshire for their support to our military, and I cannot wait to see the amazing things the crew will accomplish.”
The ceremony’s principal speaker was Adm. Bill Moran, Vice Chief of Naval Operations. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), the senior U.S. Senator from New Hampshire, is the ship’s sponsor, and gave the order to, “man our ship and bring her to life!”
The Independence-class is one of two littoral combat ship variants. The Independence-class variant, signified with even-numbered hulls, are noted for their aluminum-hull trimaran design. General Dynamics Bath Iron Works originally developed the design but after the first two Independence-class ships were built, construction was taken over by Austal at its Mobile shipyard.
The Freedom-class littoral combat ship variants have odd hull numbers and are built by a team led by Lockheed Martin. These ships are constructed by Lockheed Martin at Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard in Wisconsin.
Now when Manchester leaves New Hampshire, the ship will its long voyage to its new homeport, San Diego, Calif. As part of the ship’s sail, Manchester is expected to conduct the training, equipment and systems checks standard for new ships. Manchester is expected to visit several ports and transit the Panama Canal on its way to San Diego, according to the Navy. Much of the crew is San Diego-based but has been in Mobile since August as the ship was completing construction, according to a Navy statement.
“We are proud to take full ownership of our new ship, but we also thoroughly enjoyed our time here in Mobile, Alabama and were welcomed with open arms by the local community,” Cmdr. Emily Bassett, Manchester’s commanding officer, said in the release.