Austal USA breaks ground on new facility

Austal USA groundbreakers.

(MOBILE, ALA. – AUGUST 31, 2008) — Austal’s US operation located in Mobile, Alabama, celebrated the start of work on its Modular Manufacturing Facility (MMF) with a groundbreaking ceremony on July 31, 2008.  The ceremony was attended by several notable federal, state, county, and local VIPs, including: Alabama Governor Bob Riley; Mobile County Commission President Stephen Nodine; Mobile City Council Members Reggie Copeland, John Williams, and Connie Hudson; Bob Browning (CEO, Austal USA), Joe Rella (COO, Austal USA), Stephen Gray (COO, Gray Construction, the company that is contracted for the design and build of the expansion), and representatives from Senator Sessions, Senator Shelby and Congressman Bonner’s office.

Located on Dunlap Drive, just south of Addsco Road, the MMF project when complete will include 700,000 square feet of manufacturing space, 80,000 square feet of warehouse space, and 60,000 square feet of office space. In addition to the buildings, the site will provide new permanent parking spaces for Austal’s employees. The MMF expansion will be constructed in two phases and will ultimately accommodate a total workforce of up to 1,200 personnel in the new buildings. The state-of-the-art facility will be 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.

Gray Construction, located in Birmingham, Alabama, is managing the construction for Austal and will oversee all activities related to completion of the site.  S J & L, Inc., of Mobile, will perform the earthwork, grading, curbing, paving and associated wet utilities for the project. Other local contractors involved in the expansion effort have included Dees Engineering, who completed the site design, and Thompson Engineering who performed the geotechnical testing.

When asked what impact this facility will have on Austal USA’s capabilities Austal USA CEO, Bob Browning commented, “The design of this facility will be state-of-the-art and will greatly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our production processes, thereby increasing our throughput. This in turn allows us to offer a greater volume of vessels to our clients at increasingly competitive prices. We are also excited about the prospect of putting more local shipbuilders to work at Austal.”

Austal is in the process of planning the Christening of the Littoral Combat Ship Independence, (LCS2), which was launched in April of this year. The LCS2 sea frame is based on Austal’s innovative 127-meter high-speed aluminum trimaran hullform that enables the ship to reach sustainable speeds of over 40 knots and range in excess of 3,500 nautical miles, with an unmatched interior volume and payload for a vessel of this size. 
Austal submitted its final Phase II Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) submission to the US Navy this week following an extensive detailed design and review process. Austal was one of three bidders awarded a Phase I contract in January and it is anticipated that a single Phase II contract will be awarded in late 2008 for the construction of up to ten ships. The JHSV requirements and concept of operations are similar to those of the Austal-built “WestPac Express”, which has been successfully serving the Third Marine Expeditionary Force in Okinawa, Japan for over seven years. 

Austal is preparing to launch the second of two 107-meter Hawaii Superferries in September. Hawaii Superferry is using Austal fast ferry technology to establish Hawaii’s first high-speed vehicle-passenger service. Each catamaran can carry 866 passengers and up to 282 cars (or a combination of 28 twelve-meter (40’) trucks and 65 cars) and provide services connecting Honolulu to Maui and Kauai in three hours and from Honolulu to the Big Island in approximately four hours. The second ferry will begin service in early 2009.

By Professional Mariner Staff