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Littoral Combat Ship USS Charleston Commissions in South Carolina

Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer delivers his remarks during the commissioning ceremony of USS Charleston (LCS-18) on March 2, 2019. US Navy Photo

The Littoral Combat Ship USS Charleston (LCS-18) officially joined the fleet during a Saturday commissioning ceremony in downtown Charleston, S.C.

“USS Charleston is proof of what the teamwork of all of our people — civilian, contractor and military — can accomplish together,” Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer said in a statement. “This ship will extend the maneuverability and lethality of our fleet to confront the many challenges of a complex world, from maintaining the sea lanes to countering instability to maintaining our edge against renewed great power competition.”

The Independence-class Charleston is the 16th LCS to join the fleet and is scheduled to be homeported in San Diego, Calif.

The Navy plans to build 34 LCS before shifting to its surface combatant priority, the future frigate program, USNI News previously reported. The Navy still has one LCS contract to award.

Work building the LCS is divided among two prime contractors – Austal USA who builds the Independence variants, and Lockheed Martin, the builder of the Freedom-class variants.

Austal is either in the process of constructing or working on the pre-production of 10 more LCS, according to the service.

Charleston is the fifth ship named for the South Carolina city. Former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley and his wife Charlotte are the ship’s sponsor.

“The sea is history,” Charleston Mayor John T. Tecklenburg said during the ceremony. “Nowhere will you find a people who understand those words more fully than the people of Charleston.”

The future USS Charleston (LCS-18) during acceptance trials on July 18, 2018. Austal photo.