JULY 8, 2012 — Austal USA held a ribbon cutting ceremony at its Mobile, Alabama, shipyard July 6. The event marked the opening of not one but three new buildings – Module Manufacturing Facility (MMF) Phase 2, Assembly Bay 5 and Office Complex. Held a little more than a year after a groundbreaking ceremony signaled the start of the construction project, the event was attended by more than 120 distinguished guests.
The ribbon cutting ceremony was led by Austal USA’s Interim President and CFO, Brian Leathers. Other event participants included: U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R. Ala.), Austal USA Senior VP of Operations Craig Perciavalle, Austal USA VP of Sales, Marketing and External Affairs Craig Hooper, Mobile County Commission President Connie Hudson, Mobile City Council President Reggie Copeland, Gray Construction CEO Stephen Gray and Thompson Engineering Chairman Henry R. Seawell, III.
“I am pleased to announce that all three of these projects were completed under budget and either on or ahead of schedule,” said Mr. Leathers. “This says a lot about our Facilities Development team who are still working to complete further expansion of our ever-growing operation.”
Located at the intersection of Dunlap Drive and Addsco Road, the completed MMF project includes 740,000 sq. ft. (17 acres) of manufacturing space, 85,000 sq. ft. of drive-through warehouse space for receipt and distribution of materials from suppliers, and 60,000 sq. ft. of office space. The MMF expansion can accommodate a total workforce of up to 1,200 personnel in the new buildings. The completion of MMF Phase 2 now makes the MMF big enough to fit all the football playing fields of the SEC, including end zones, inside. It is a mirror image of Phase 1 of the shipyard but the designers of Phase 2 took into consideration arrangement lessons-learned and included additional cranes for increased lifting capacity and static construction space for longer construction duration items not conforming to standard assembly line times.
The state-of-the-art facility is capable of constructing six large aluminum vessels such as the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and/or Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) per year. Construction is in progress in the MMF on modules for JHSV 2, 3 and 4 and LCS 6 and 8.
Assembly Bay 5 was constructed south of the Mid Yard Breakroom adjacent to Assembly Bay 4 where Millinocket (JHSV 3) is currently being assembled. It has 59,000 sq. ft. of floor space, 425 feet long by 135 feet wide, and is similar to that of the existing Assembly Bays 3 and 4, with the ability to join with the future expansion of Assembly Bay 6. Bay 5 is now long enough to construct LCS completely inside and is about 10 feet taller than Bays 3 and 4, allowing additional clearance for the LCS uppermost deckhouse. The building contains additional overhead cranes to provide for rotating modules inside the assembly bay.
The new three-story Office Complex is just north of the MMF on Addsco Road and encompasses over 110,000 sq. ft. of office space to include a reconfigurable Multi-Use Room capable of seating 400 people auditorium-style. It will house 450 employees and is 5 times the size of the existing two-story office building on Dunlap Drive. This new office building will allow Austal to co-locate our engineers, project and program offices, purchasing, contracts and legal, finance, business integration, and sales and marketing who are currently spread all over Mobile in separate buildings and trailers.
Gray Construction, located in Birmingham, built the second half of the MMF and Office Complex. Thompson Engineering of Mobile designed and built Assembly Bay 5. Local subcontractors included SJ&L, Rowe Surveying and Engineering, Southern Earth Sciences, Jordan Pile Driving, Robert J. Baggett, Persons Service Company, A&B Electric, KMC, National Pump and Compressor, Gorham HVAC, Kittrell Acoustics, Warehouse Equipment/Supply, and Team Steel Placement.
Austal USA is currently under contract with the U.S. Navy to build nine 103-meter JHSVs under a 10-ship, $1.6 billion contract and five 127-meter Independence-variant LCS class ships, four of which are a part of a 10-ship, $3.5 billion contract.
For the LCS and JHSV programs, Austal, as prime contractor, is teamed with General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics. As the ship systems integrator, General Dynamics is responsible for the design, integration and testing of the ship’s electronic systems including the combat system, networks, and seaframe control. General Dynamics’ proven open architecture approach allows for affordable and efficient capability growth as technologies develop.
These two contracts will require Austal to increase its Mobile, Alabama workforce to approximately 4,000 employees in order to meet contract requirements.