By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday, December 22, Austal USA announced that it has been awarded a contract for $51,684,797 to its 10-ship $3.5 billion Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) contract for the US Navy. This contract modification is expected to increase to $198,385,545 over three years if options are exercised. This work includes design services for upgrades to the LCS and preliminary design for the US Navy’s future Frigate.
Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle said, “We’re excited about this contract as it reflects the Navy’s confidence in our ability to support these warships and the program as a whole.”
The work will begin immediately and will be performed at Austal’s state-of-the-art ship manufacturing facility in Mobile.
Perciaville said, “This work lays a solid foundation for our growing support business and will continue to grow as these ships deliver and enter the fleet.”
On September 29, the US Navy retired the last of its Bath Iron Works designed Oliver Hazard Perry Class frigates, the USS Simpson.
Austal will perform special studies supporting engineering design and trade-offs, core class studies that support program management efforts including configuration control and maintenance of the class design for ships under construction, and class services which include ongoing technical support for design modifications and maintenance of the LCS configuration and baseline design for delivered ships as well as future flight upgrades.
These upgrades will include preliminary design efforts for the LCS transition to the frigate.
On September 29, the US Navy retired the last of its Bath Iron Works designed Oliver Hazard Perry Class frigates, the USS Simpson. The 51 Perry class frigates complemented the destroyers, which while more capable than their forbears have gotten much larger and much more expensive. Then Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (R) requested plans for a future frigate class to serve the fleet escort role that had been performed by the retiring of the 1970s designed Oliver Hazard Perry Class and 1960s Knox Class frigates. The Navy determined that upgrading the already in production LCS’s, smaller lighter ships designed to fight in the shallower littoral combat zone near shore, to frigate capabilities would be much faster and cheaper than designing and bidding out a completely new class of 21st century frigates.
At this point the Navy has 10 of the LCSs, built in two different classes by Austal and Lockheed in separate shipyards. According to original reporting by the ‘Motley Fool,’ the first 32 LCS’s are expected to be the current mission flexible versions of the Independence and Freedom classes. LCS version 2 is expected to be designated as “Small Surface Combatants” and will feature: improved radar, electronic warfare, and sonar packages; SeaRAM missiles for self-defense; an over-the-horizon anti-ship missile; Mk 38 25mm machine guns; and improved armor for “vital” areas of the warship to improve the survivability of the ships if they take a direct hit.
Austal is a global defense prime contractor and a designer and manufacturer of defense and commercial ships. Austal has delivered more than 200 vessels for a variety of roles in the last 25 years.
Defense vessels are designed and constructed in Mobile as well as in Henderson, Western Australia. Austal also builds high speed ferries and other high performance aluminum vessels commercial ships. Today, commercial ship construction is centered at their shipyard in Balamban, Philippines.