October 8, 2004

Austal launches ONR technology demonstrator

Austal USA, Mobile, Alabama, recently launched its Hull 612--a 102 ft SeaCoaster surface-effect catamaran that will be used to demonstrate advanced hullform technology for the Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR).

The vessel is the eighth to be built at Austal's purpose-built aluminum shipbuilding facility in Mobile. The ship is being built for American Marine Holdings, which has been awarded a contract to demonstrate its licensed technology SeaCoaster design to ONR.

The patented SeaCoaster catamaran design features cavities in the bottom of each hull into which air is blown and the vessel is lifted several feet in the water, reducing resistance, and thus allowing higher speeds to be obtained.

Designer-inventor Don Burg expects speeds just shy of 70 miles per hour.

Following its successful evaluation by ONR, American Marine Holdings expects various departments of the U.S. military to decide on potential applications for the air-inducted technology and possibly order additional vessels for specific uses.

American Marine Holdings President, Mike Collins, said Austal USA was selected to build the vessel for ONR due to its expertise in aluminum vessel construction. "Austal USA brings to this market a new dimension in high speed marine transport, utilizing the company's leading edge technology and construction capabilities that were not previously available to U.S. customers," he said.

Principal particulars:

Overall length: 31.2 meters

Beam: 9.75 meters

Hull depth (molded): 3.35 meters

Main engines: 4 x 1,045 kW Caterpillar diesels

Propulsion: 4 x ZF surface-piercing propellers

Speed: 50+ knots


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