Austal Lands Next Two Joint High-Speed Ships
Wednesday, Oct 13, 2010
MOBILE, Ala. -- Austal USA on Tuesday got the official approval to build two more high-speed transport ships for the U.S. Department of Defense.
The company had received about $100 million in June to buy the diesel engines, water jets and other equipment for the ships. The remaining portion of the contract is worth about $205 million, Austal officials said.
The ships will be the fourth and fifth Joint High Speed Vessels built by Austal. The company has a contract worth up to $1.6 billion to build as many as 10 of the ships, five each for the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy.
The vessels are 338 feet long and weigh 727 tons, can carry up to 600 tons of cargo and travel an average speed of about 35 knots, or 40 mph. They will replace smaller, slower transport ships for both branches of the military.
The Army has plans to build 12 of the ships, and the Navy's long-term shipbuilding plan lists 41 of the vessels. Tuesday's award includes one ship each for the Army and Navy.
There is no guarantee that any beyond the first 10 will be bought, and no requirement that Austal build them. But the company has said that doing a good job with this order should give it a leg up on future purchases.
Austal employs 1,800 workers at its Mobile River shipyard, and right now they are at work on the first two transport ships in the contract.
The company began work on the first JHSV in December. The company anticipates a June launch and December 2011 delivery to the Army.
The company began cutting aluminum on Sept. 13 for the second ship, which is for the Navy. The ship is scheduled to be launched in January 2012 and delivered to the Navy in June 2012.
The company has said it plans to deliver a transport ship every six months after that. Work on the third ship is expected to begin in early 2011.
Austal is also currently building a second littoral combat ship for the Navy, and is waiting to hear from the Navy about a $5 billion, 10-vessel contract to build more of the warships. If Austal wins that contract, shipyard employment could spike to more than 3,000, company officials have said.
Dan Murtaugh, Press-Register