January 22, 2005
Austal USA gets set to build bigger
Austal's U.S. operation located in Mobile, Alabama, celebrated the start of work on its Northern Expansion project with a groundbreaking ceremony on January 17, 2005. Those attending included: Alabama Governor Bob Riley, Mobile County Commissioners Mike Dean and Sam Jones, Mobile Mayor Michael C. Dow, Greg Metcalf (CEO, Austal USA), Tom Bender (CEO, Bender Shipbuilding & Repair Co.), Henry Seawell (CEO, Thompson Engineering, the company that is contracted for the design and build of the expansion), Dugan Shipway (CEO, Bath Iron Works, the prime contractor for the Littoral Combat Ship project), the Navy LCS Program Manager Captain Don Babcock, USN, and Captain Dave Bella, USN (Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Gulf Coast).
The Northern Expansion, when added to the existing facility, will provide a combined total covered area of 177,400 square feet for ship production, roughly quadruple the existing facility.
The expansion will add two large bays (each 134 ft x 400 ft) under a common roof for module fabrication/erection and component storage, connected by two mezzanine levels (each 25 ft x 400 ft) for shop space, material storage, and small assembly fabrication; two additional launch aprons in front of each bay; a combined wharf (bulkhead) length of 780ft; and additional overhead cranes capable of lifting 80-ton modules in each bay.
The Northern Expansion will accommodate a total workforce of up to 700 personnel.
When asked about the planning that went into this expansion, Austal USA CEO, Greg Metcalf commented, "This expansion has been in the planning stages for a long time now and we're glad to see it come to life. We're looking forward to playing a large role in the economic growth of the Mobile community as well as that of the State of Alabama."
The plans to begin the Northern Expansion were initiated by the need for more production space to handle the current and anticipated projects on Austal's order book.
Austal is currently building a 345 ft high-speed vehicle/passenger ferry for a new U.S. operation. Upon completion, this vessel will completely fill the existing shipbuilding facility in which it is being built.
On May 27, 2004, the U.S. Navy awarded a General Dynamics team that includes Austal, a $79 million contract to develop a final design for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), along with options to build two ships (the first of which Austal anticipates to begin building in October 2005).
The team's proposal for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is based on Austal's innovative 126-meter high-speed aluminum trimaran hullform that enables the ship to reach sustainable speeds of nearly 50 knots, and range as far as 10,000 nautical miles, with an unmatched interior volume and payload for vessels of this size.
According to Metcalf, "Austal is the shipyard that will build the Navy's ship of the future."
Other 2004 milestones reached by Austal include the delivery of Lake Express, the first high-speed vehicle/passenger ferry to operate between two U.S. ports. Lake Express is a 192ft aluminium vessel that operates on Lake Michigan between Muskegon, Michigan and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Austal also delivered its 8th vessel, the first for military use, on December 29, 2004, to American Marine Holdings. The 102ft SeaCoaster surface-effect catamaran will be used to demonstrate advanced hullform technology to the United States Office of Naval Research (ONR).