The USA division of Australian-headquartered Austal has been awarded a U.S. Navy contract to construct one Independence Class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). The total value of the contract is US$432.1 million. The contract includes options for nine additional vessels in the following five years.
Austal will immediately commence preparation work including a US$140 million facility expansion and workforce development which will take approximately 12 months to complete. Construction of the first LCS vessel will commence in early 2012 and is scheduled for delivery in 2015.
The aluminium warships will be built at Austal's U.S. shipyard in Mobile, Alabama, and will more than double Austal's US workforce to around 3,800 employees.
Austal Limited's Chairman John Rothwell said this contract is a very significant milestone for the company, and is proud that Austal has been selected to produce this important class of vessels for the U.S. Navy.
"This contract has firmly established Austal as an international defence shipbuilder, is a strong vote of confidence in Austal's aluminium trimaran LCS design, and also reflects the strength and capability of our USA operations and highly-skilled workforce," said Mr Rothwell.
The LCS program began in 2002 with the U.S. Navy's pursuit of a new class of up to 55 ships for multi-mission support. The LCS is envisioned to be a versatile, networked, agile, surface combatant capable of defeating anti-access and asymmetric threats in the littorals.
In October 2005, Austal, as a part of the General Dynamics LCS team, was one of two bidders awarded a landmark construction contract for one of two LCS, USS Independence (LCS 2), followed by a contract to build a second Independence-class LCS, USS Coronado (LCS 4), in May 2009.
Austal is the Prime Contractor for this expanded 10-ship, Independence Class LCS program. While General Dynamics Bath Iron Works remains the prime contractor on USS Coronado (LCS 4).
The Austal LCS Team delivers proven design and construction expertise of commercially derived high-speed combat vessels in the United States and the integration of military computing environments for weapons, sensors, and communications.
Austal's shipyard in Mobile, Alabama, has proven that they have the necessary infrastructure, processes, and skilled workforce in place to design, construct, deliver and service 100-metre plus high-speed ships in the United States. Austal USA's first 127-metre trimaran LCS, USS Independence (LCS 2), is operating with the fleet at its location in Norfolk, Virginia.
Austal has under construction the second LCS, USS Coronado (LCS 4), and the first two of five contracted 103-metre Joint High Speed Vessels, Spearhead (JHSV 1) and Vigilant (JHSV 2), part of a joint contract between the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy. The keel laying ceremony for Spearhead took place at Austal USA's Mobile shipyard on July 22, 2010. Spearhead delivery is planned for December 2011 and will be operated by the U.S. Army.