Ship sponsor Lolita Zinke performed the ceremonial bottle break over the bow of the Santa Barbara. Zinke, wife of former U.S. Congressman and former U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, was selected by then-Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer to be the ship sponsor of the future USS Santa Barbara (LCS 32). Zinke was born and raised in Santa Barbara.
LCS 32 is the third ship to be named after the coastal city located in central California.
The future USS Santa Barbara is the 32nd Littoral Combat Ship for the U.S. Navy and the 16th ship in the Austal-built Independence-class variant of the LCS. Austal laid the keel of Santa Barbara on 27 October 2020.
The Independence-variant LCS is a high-speed, shallow-draft, focused-mission ship capable of operating independently or in a group. These ships are designed to defeat growing littoral threats and provide access and dominance along coastal waters, yet capable of open-ocean operation. A fast, maneuverable, and networked surface-combatant, LCS provides the required warfighting capabilities and operational flexibility to execute focused missions such as surface warfare, mine warfare, and anti-submarine warfare.
The Independence-variant LCS program has recorded a number of successful deployments with more ships scheduled to deploy in the near future. In May 2020, the USS Montgomery (LCS 8) conducted operations in the South China Sea. Later that same month, the USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) also conducted presence operations in the area. In December, Giffords moved to support U.S. Southern Command in the Caribbean and eastern Pacific Ocean with the ship interdicting $100 million of illegal drugs. In June, the USS Tulsa (LCS 16) conducted operations in the Philippine Sea, while the USS Charleston (LCS 18) operated with the Sri Lankan navy in Malaysia. There are currently three Independence-variant LCS deployed to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command region.
The LCS program is at full-rate production and continuing its momentum at Austal USA, with five ships currently under construction. The future USS Savanah (LCS 28) completed sea trials in May. The future USS Canberra (LCS 30) was launched in March and is now preparing for trials. Final assembly is underway on the future USS Augusta (LCS 34). Construction began on the future USS Kingsville (LCS 36) earlier this year. USS Oakland (LCS 24) was commissioned in April and has joined eleven other Independence-variant LCS homeported in San Diego. USS Mobile (LCS 26) was commissioned May 22 in its namesake city.
The company recently broke ground on its new steel manufacturing line to expand its shipbuilding capability to service the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard’s rising demand for steel ships.