On Tuesday, Austal USA company management joined military and government officials in Mobile to showcase the defense industry titan’s new $100 million steel shipbuilding facility.
According to the company, its 117,000 square foot manufacturing addition will house state-of-the-art computerized and robotic steel processing equipment to meet the current and future demands of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard.
U.S. Representative Jerry Carl (R-Mobile), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, celebrated Austal’s new installation.
“The opening of the new steel fabrication line at Austal USA means southern Alabama can continue to provide high quality vessels to the Navy,” Carl said in a statement. “This massive $100 million investment will also create jobs and spur economic growth across the region, while continuing to develop and grow our local workforce with the hiring of countless people in the trades to meet the requirements of the new line.
The Congressman added, “With increasing security threats around the world, the work being done by shipbuilders like Austal USA is even more important than ever. That’s why ensuring they can continue to compete for future Navy programs is one of my top priorities in Congress. I’m proud of the incredible work being done right here in my district, and I look forward to seeing southern Alabama become a major player in steel shipbuilding.
A 60,000 square foot stockyard will be used to handle raw steel. Additionally, a 19,500 square foot paint facility will offer the ability to paint and sand simultaneously in two separate cells, or the two cells can be combined providing the ability to paint super-modules, the company said.
Austal USA chairman Rusty Murdaugh said the company’s addition of steelmaking capabilities was a “game changer” for its operations in support of the US military.
“We are excited to see our plans to add steel to our capabilities come to fruition. Adding the steel capability is a game changer because it opens up our ability to support the US Navy, US Coast Guard and other customers with high quality vessels,” said Murdaugh. “We appreciate the confidence the Department of Defense and the Department of the Navy have placed in us with the award of the DPA grant to start this project and we look forward to repaying that confidence with our future performance in delivering steel vessels. High quality.
“Austal USA will operate our steel production line using the same lean manufacturing principles that we have honed over the past 15 years building LCS and EPFs for the Navy,” continued Murdaugh. “This process has resulted in Austal’s reputation for delivering quality vessels on time and on budget vessel after vessel. We will bring this same reliable production capability to the construction of steel ships.
Austal is under contract to build two Navajo-class Tow, Salvage and Salvage (T-ATS) vessels, which are expected to become the first steel vessels built at the new facility.
The shipbuilder has delivered 15 Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) and 12 Expeditionary Fast Transports (EPF) to the navy while seven more aluminum navy vessels are under construction.
Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL