Austal USA opens $100M steel facility to support naval shipbuilding projects

Defence company Austal USA has opened the company’s new steel shipbuilding facility in Mobile, Alabama, which will enable the simultaneous production of both aluminium and steel-hulled ships.

Austal USA

The ceremony celebrating the opening of the 11,000 square metre manufacturing facility was held on 12 April.

Photo by: Austal USA

The first vessels to be built in the new steel facility will be two Navajo-class towing, salvage, and rescue ships (T-ATS) for the US Navy, which were placed under a $144 million contract in October 2021. 

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Austal Limited Chief Executive Officer Paddy Gregg said the opening of the new steel facility marked a significant development in Austal USA’s shipbuilding capabilities, allowing multiple steel vessel projects to be undertaken, in addition to aluminium vessels.

“Austal USA is now ready to start constructing steel ships for the U.S. Navy, including the Navajo-class Towing, Salvage, and Rescue Ships (T-ATS) ships; and can offer this expanded shipbuilding capability to new customers such as the United States Coast Guard,” Gregg said.

The new steel manufacturing facility includes “the latest in computerised and robotic steel processing equipment” to handle the current and future demands of the US Navy and the US Coast Guard.

A 6,000 square meter stockyard will be used for handling the raw steel and a 2,000 square metre paint facility will provide the ability to paint and blast simultaneously in two separate cells, or both cells can be combined providing the ability to paint super-modules.

Financing for the new steel shipbuilding facility was provided in part by a Defense Production Act (DPA) Title III Agreement between the US Department of Defense, and Austal USA. The agreement, valued at $50 million, was announced in June 2020.  Austal USA matched these funds and invested an additional $50 million into the completion of the steel facility.

The company has so far delivered 15 Independence-class littoral combat ships (LCS) and 12 Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transports (T-EPF) to the US Navy.