“Coronado”, the second Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship class vessel was christened on January 14, 2012 during a ceremony at Austal’s shipyard in Mobile, Alabama, USA. The ship’s proven trimaran-hull design offers superior manoeuvrability and stability, endurance to travel 4,300 nautical miles at 18 knots, three weapon zones, capacity for any two mission packages simultaneously, and a flight deck larger than any other surface combatant other than aircraft carriers.
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Susan Ring Keith is the ship’s sponsor. Upon her birth in Coronado, Susan Ring Keith joined a long family history associated with the Navy and “Coronado”. In addition to her father, both of her grandfathers and both of her uncles were career Naval Officers. Her two brothers followed their father into the naval service, with one brother retiring as a Rear Admiral. Her godfather (and later step-father) was Rear Admiral Put Storrs, one of The Three Seahawks, which were the predecessors to the Blue Angels. Susan was the quintessential Navy Junior, and herself entered the Navy as a Navy wife and Navy mother.
In 1966, Susan’s mother, Eleanor Ring, christened the previous USS “Coronado” (LPD/AGF-11) and Susan served as Maid of Honour. In 2009, Susan was invited by the Secretary of the Navy to serve as Sponsor of “Coronado” (LCS 4). Susan’s daughter, Belle Keith Drouin, will follow in Susan’s footsteps by serving as the ship’s Matron of Honour.
The 127 metre all-aluminium vessel is capable of being outfitted with reconfigurable payloads (Mission Packages) which can be changed quickly to support mine countermeasure, anti-submarine and surface warfare missions. The vessel has a maximum speed of more than 45 knots.
This past summer, Austal celebrated the cutting of metal on “Jackson” (LCS 6), the first ship of Austal’s latest 10-ship LCS order worth over US$3.5 billion. “Montgomery” (LCS 8) is also under contract as well as seven of 10 vessels in the US$1.6 billion Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) program, three of which are currently under construction – “USNS Spearhead” (JHSV 1), “Choctaw County” (JHSV 2) and JHSV 3.
For the LCS and JHSV programs, Austal is teamed with General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics (NYSE: GD). As the ship systems integrator, General Dynamics is responsible for the design, integration and testing of the ship’s electronic systems including the combat system, networks, and seaframe control. General Dynamics’ proven open architecture approach provides affordable capabilities to the fleet quickly and efficiently.
Celebrating its 13-year anniversary of US operations this month, Austal has grown into one of southern Alabama’s largest employers with over 2,400 employees on staff hailing from the Mobile Area, Mississippi, Florida, and beyond. Under the current workload, Austal expects to employ over 4,000 Americans by the end of 2013, and will be ready to help the US Navy meet any national security contingency ahead.
Please refer to the following news release from the US Department of Defence regarding the Christening of LCS “Coronado”.
Navy Christens Littoral Combat Ship “Coronado”
The Navy will christen the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) “Coronado”, Saturday, Jan. 14, during a 10 a.m. CST ceremony in Mobile, Ala.
The Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development & Acquisition, Sean Stackley, will deliver the principal address at the ceremony. Susan Keith will serve as the ship’s sponsor. Additionally, Keith helped launch the Coronado Historical Association’s “Home of a Naval Aviator” sign project and grew up with her father and stepfather serving in the Navy. Vice Adm. Stanhope C. Ring, her father, was a pilot who commanded an aircraft carrier air group during the Battle of Midway during World War II. Her stepfather, Rear Adm. Aaron Putnam “Put” Storrs III, belonged to the Navy’s first aerial acrobatic team, which was the forerunner of the Blue Angels. The ceremony will be highlighted by Keith breaking a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally christen the ship, which is a time-honored maritime tradition.
The ship’s name recognizes the city of Coronado, Calif., and honors the city’s deep ties to the U.S. Navy. Coronado has been home to Naval Air Station North Island and Naval Amphibious Base, since 1917. Two previous ships have been named after this city: USS “Coronado”, a Tacoma-class patrol frigate, earned four battle stars for supporting landings in New Guinea and Leyte during World War II and the USS “Coronado”, an Austin-class amphibious transport dock later re-designated as an auxiliary command ship, served as flagship for the Third Fleet and was decommissioned in 2006.
Designated LCS 4, “Coronado” is an innovative surface combatant designed to operate in littoral seas and shallow water to counter mines, submarines and fast surface craft threats in coastal regions. The ship is capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots and can operate in water less than 20 feet deep. “Coronado” will address a critical capabilities gap in the littorals and conduct the Navy’s mission to enhance maritime security by deterring hostility, maintaining a forward presence, projecting power and maintaining sea control.
A fast, agile, and high-technology surface combatant, “Coronado” will be a platform for the launch and recovery of manned and unmanned vehicles. To meet increased demand for mission-tailored packages, its modular design will allow the ship to be reconfigured for antisubmarine warfare, mine countermeasures, or surface warfare missions on an as-needed basis. The LCS class ships have the ability to swap out mission packages in a matter of days — adapting as the tactical situation demands. The modular approach allows the Navy to incorporate new and improved systems into the fleet as advanced technologies mature, providing flexibility and evolving capability.
“Coronado” will be manned by two rotational crews, Blue and Gold, similar to the rotational crews assigned to large submarines. These core crews are augmented by one of the three types of mission package crews and an aviation detachment. The commanding officer of the Blue crew will be Cmdr. John Kochendorfer, from Dana Point, Calif. The commanding officer of the Gold crew will be Cmdr. Michael “Shawn” Johnston, from North Carolina. After commissioning, the ship will be homeported in San Diego, Calif.