By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Monday, Austal USA announced it has been tasked by the U.S. Navy to build an additional Littoral Combat Ship, the 15th such ship in the class.
After the announcement, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement, “When Alabama’s businesses succeed, Alabamians succeed. Austal USA is a 21st-Century, technology-driven, employer which provides good wages and good opportunities for its employees. Austal is critical to our state’s high-tech military and aerospace manufacturing sector.”
“By adding to its ship order, the U.S. Navy is signaling its confidence in Austal’s products and the employees who build it. Alabama has a skilled workforce that is known for producing high-quality goods. I look forward to more announcements like this one from Austral, as well as other companies that do business in Alabama, because of our trained workforce and our positive business environment,” Gov. Ivey added.
Austal announced that it has won a further contract for the Independence Class, Littoral Combat Ship to be built at its shipbuilding facilities in Mobile. Austal said that the exact value of the award is confidential for competition reasons but is under the U.S. congressional cost cap of $584 million – $750 million per ship. This is the second LCS vessel to be awarded this year to Austal.
The 417 foot frigate sized LCS30 will be the 15th LCS constructed at Austal’s US shipyard in Mobile, and represents a continuing vote of confidence in Australia’s design and ship building capability for large naval vessels.
“Whilst this is a great achievement for Austal, I am also delighted in the vote of confidence this delivers in the Australian industry for shipbuilding and design. I am particularly impressed by the productivity gains and quality of build that our workforce in Mobile has achieved – what they have delivered over the last few years is nothing short of outstanding. The performance in the USA is fast becoming the benchmark for naval production in the world and an inspiration to all of us. Austal’s work on the LCS program at our advanced Module Manufacturing Facility (MMF) has seen efficiency gains of 20 per cent so far with an ambitious target of 35 per cent set for the end of the build cycle,” Austal CEO David Singleton said.
“Austal USA employs 4,000 people at its headquarters and ship building facility in Mobile, Alabama, while its supplier network includes over 2,200 businesses across 43 States. This operation is truly part of a national endeavour in the USA, and is a model for Australia’s shipbuilding industry where continuous shipbuilding drives innovation and productivity and provides many benefits to the national supply chain and education industry,” Singleton continued.
Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, said that the announcement was, “More good news for the Austal shipyard and their over 4,000 employees. We should all take pride in the fact that these fine Navy ships are built right here in Mobile!”
“I look forward to working with the Australian Government in its clear vision for a truly sovereign, and export capable, naval shipbuilding industry based on a continuous build approach. This target is something we are passionate about because of all the job security, education and advanced manufacturing spin offs it will create. Should Austal be successful in its bid for the $3 billion Offshore Patrol Vessel contract for the Royal Australian Navy, we intend to bring the same approach in advanced manufacturing techniques and efficiency gains operating in the US to Australia. What has been achieved in the USA needs to be our target in Australia and we have every intent to make that happen,” Singleton added.
Austal said that its U.S. operations continue to reduce cost and deliver on schedule handing over two LCS ships in 2016 and one of two in 2017, all under the congressional cost cap. This, along with the successful Expeditionary Fast Transport program, has helped make Austal the fifth largest shipbuilder in the United States and positions the company well to rapidly and efficiently support the Navy’s desired fleet of 355 ships with affordable solutions.