On January 10, 2012, Austal’s Mobile, Alabama shipyard completed the launch of the second 127-metre Independence-Variant Littoral Combat Ship, “Coronado” (LCS 4).
The roll-out marked Austal’s second use of an innovative self-propelled modular transporter system to transfer the ship from the yard’s final assembly bay onto a drydock for launch.
This system was first used a few months ago, in September 2011, to successfully launch USNS “Spearhead” (JHSV 1). Austal and the US Navy collaborated in the design of a new set of keel stands to support the ship during construction and facilitate the transition from the assembly bay.
Austal’s own self-propelled modular transporters (SPMTs) supplemented those of Berard Transportation of New Iberia, LA, to provide a total of 3,800 tons lift capacity, on some 104 axle lines.
In a three-step process, SPMTs lifted the entire ship and keel stands lifted the Coronado almost three feet and moved the Littoral Combat Ship into the moored dry dock.
Supporting close to 2,000 tons, the SPMT operators; aided by tug captains; the dock master and the Austal launch master manoeuvred “Coronado” aboard the dry dock in an incident-free operation.
A major improvement in safety and efficiency, the new roll-out method has shaved hours off the transfer process, and serves as a capstone in Austal’s effort to reduce cost and time required in future LCS deliveries.