USA: Austal Completes R&M Work on “Sea Fighter” (FSF 1)


Austal USA, in conjunction with prime contractor, BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards Alabama, has completed a 4-month drydock and shipyard availability for the “Sea Fighter” (FSF-1) based out of Panama City, Florida. The “Sea Fighter” is an aluminum catamaran operated by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) that has been used to test technologies for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) programs.

Under a very aggressive schedule, Austal workers installed a new Counter Measure Washdown (CMWD) System to help keep future Naval combatants operational in a nuclear, biological or chemical battle-space. Other Austal work items included the modification of ballast tanks and the installation of water jet skirts on both hulls. Austal’s pipe department installed a fuel centrifuge piping system into the ship which will allow the crew the opportunity to remove fuel contaminants. Other work items included the manufacture of aluminum ladders and work platforms for the water jets, along with repair of the aluminum hull. This work was completed on time and on budget.

Austal also provided technical support during successful sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico. The “Sea Fighter” (FSF 1) left Mobile, Alabama, to head for its homeport in Panama City, Florida, on the 27th of February.

Austal USA’s President and Chief Operating Officer, Joe Rella said, “The successful completion of the “Sea Fighter” availability speaks to the inherent advantages of utilizing the subject matter expert for repair and maintenance of the type of vessels they build. It was rewarding to see both shipyards work together in Mobile exploiting the synergies of our two side-by-side facilities. We hope the Navy will consider Mobile-based shipyards teamed with Austal USA for future support of the Navy’s repair and maintenance activities.”

One of the ways to obtain growth in tough economic times is through teaming and partnerships,” said Vic Rhoades, Director and General Manager of BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards Alabama. “Today’s completion of the “Sea Fighter” project is a shared success and a tribute to the highly-skilled men and women of both BAE Systems and Austal USA. The vessel spent a total of 91 days at BAE Systems’ facility, including 72 days on dry dock. This project is a testament to both companies’ commitment to generate additional business opportunities in the Mobile area.

Austal USA is a full-service shipyard offering design, construction and high-speed vessel service and repair. As Austal USA continues to expand its service and repair capabilities, the company is well positioned for new business with engineering, test and trials capabilities, and a new waterfront facility all co-located on the Mobile Bay waterfront.

Austal is currently under contract with the U.S. Navy to build nine 103-meter JHSVs under a 10-ship, $1.6 billion contract and three 127-meter Independence-variant LCS class ships, two 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 fulfill the contract requirements. “With almost ten percent of these workers expected to reside in the neighboring states of Florida and Mississippi,” said Austal USA President and COO, Joe Rella, “we are proud that Austal is an engine of regional growth for the Gulf.”

Naval Today Staff , March 15, 2012;