Austal’s US shipyard has celebrated the official start of fabrication for the third Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV 3), one of seven Austal-designed 103 metre US Navy Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV) under contract with the US Department of Defense.
“The race is on,” said Austal USA President and Chief Operating Officer, Joe Rella. “The world is about to learn just how much value Austal’s investments in modular ship fabrication offers our Navy and Military Sealift Command customers. We challenge ourselves every day to build each ship faster and more efficiently than the one before.”
By the time the first Joint High Speed Vessel USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1), was Christened on September 17, 2011, the first of over 40 modules of JHSV 2, had moved from Austal’s Module Manufacturing Facility (MMF) to the final assembly bay, where the ship will take shape.
Austal was selected as prime contractor in November 2008 to design and build the first JHSV, with options for nine additional vessels expected to be exercised between FY09 and FY13 as part of a program potentially worth over US$1.6 billion. Six of those options have already been exercised.
First District Congressman Jo Bonner (R-AL) commemorated the official start of fabrication for JHSV 3.
“Austal and Mobile are becoming synonymous for high speed defence on the water,” said Congressman Bonner.
“By supporting this facility, we are not only bolstering employment here at home, we are investing in security. The facility and workforce here are ramping up and ready to help the Navy and Marine Corps meet the naval challenges of tomorrow. Austal’s shipyard is certainly one of a kind. Their state-of-the-art modular manufacturing process represents a new more efficient direction in Navy shipbuilding, and it’s exciting to see these amazing vessels transition from start to finish, right here, in Mobile, Alabama.”
As the US Department of Defense’s next generation multi-use platform, the 103-metre JHSV will provide rapid intra-theater deployment/transportation of personnel, equipment and supplies. The vessel will support military logistics, sustainment and humanitarian relief operations at speeds of up to 43 knots. The JHSV will transport medium-size operational units with their vehicles, or reconfigure to provide troop transport for an infantry battalion, allowing units to transit long distances while maintaining unit integrity. The vessel also supports helicopter operations and has a slewing vehicle ramp on the starboard quarter which enables use of austere piers and quay walls, common in developing countries. A shallow draft (under 4 metres) will further enhance theater port access.
JHSV 3 is the fourth naval vessel to be constructed at Austal using the new procedures and processes developed in conjunction with Austal’s Module Manufacturing Facility (MMF). The MMF provides Austal with assembly line efficiency, which has resulted in significant cost savings and reduced lead times for both its US Navy programs.
Austal is also currently preparing to launch a second Independence-variant 127-metre Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) class vessel for the US Navy, Coronado (LCS 4). USS Independence (LCS 2) is currently being put through trials by her crew. As prime contractor for the next LCS 10-ship contract, awarded by the US Navy at the end of 2010, Austal has also begun work on the first ship of that contract, Jackson (LCS 6), with Montgomery (LCS 8) under contract.
For the LCS and JHSV programs, Austal is the prime contractor and 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 provides affordable capabilities to the fleet quickly and efficiently.
With the 13-year anniversary of its US shipbuilding operations approaching, Austal has grown into one of Southern Alabama’s largest employers with over 2,300 employees on staff hailing from the Mobile area, Mississippi, Florida, and beyond. Under the current workload, Austal expects to employ over 4,000 Americans by the end of 2013, and will be ready to help the US Navy meet any national security contingency ahead.
Further reflecting Austal’s position as an emerging global defence prime contractor, the company was recently awarded a contract for the design, construction and through-life support of eight new patrol boats for the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. Austal will build the fleet of Cape Class Patrol Boats at its shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia. Construction of the first vessel is expected to commence in February 2012, with all eight due to be delivered between March 2013 and August 2015. The In-Service Support contract extends for a minimum period of eight years and encompasses a full range of intermediate and depot level maintenance activities.
Austal has also used the capabilities of its Systems division to bid for a maritime communications modernisation program for the Royal Australian Navy’s eight ANZAC Class Frigates.
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