There were starkly different launch methods as the US Navy’s latest Littoral Combat Ships took to the water. The Independence class, Jackson (LCS 6), was sedately transferred from land to sea through a multi-step procedure from a new assembly hall at Austal USA’s Mobile facility on 14 December.

The 127m trimaran was lifted via self-propelled modular transporters to a deck barge and towed to the Southeast Shipyard of BAE Systems, where she was lowered into deeper water via a floating dry-dock. Austal is currently working on four other vessels, Coronado, Montgomery, Omaha and Gabrielle Gifford, as part of a US$3.5 billion 10-ship order.

Four days later, Milwaukee (LCS5), the third Freedom class, was launched in more dynamic fashion into the nearly frozen Menominee River. The narrow waterway requires ships built at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine (MMC)shipyard to be slipped in sideways. Other ships in the class, Detroit, Little Rock and Sioux City, are in various stages of construction at MMC, with Wichita and Billings at early stages of material procurement.

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