US Military Signs New Charter for Austal High Speed Vessel

The Austal designed, built and sup­port­ed high speed ves­sel “West­Pac Express” has been re-char­tered for use by the Unit­ed States Marine Corps, con­tin­u­ing a suc­cess sto­ry that began over 10 years ago.

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Com­menc­ing as a direct con­tin­u­a­tion of the ship’s cur­rent char­ter, the new con­tract with the Unit­ed States Navy’s Mil­i­tary Sealift Com­mand (MSC) will start in Feb­ru­ary 2012 and last between six and 24 months. The con­tract is val­ued at approx­i­mate­ly US$30.3 mil­lion if all options are exer­cised.

The char­ter will see the 101 metre, US-flagged cata­ma­ran con­tin­u­ing to trans­port troops and equip­ment from the Marine Corps’ Third Marine Expe­di­tionary Force (III MEF). It is base port­ed in Oki­nawa, Japan where the III MEF is based, and oper­ates through­out the West­ern Pacif­ic.

Austal Chief Exec­u­tive Offi­cer, Andrew Bel­lamy, said the char­ter reflect­ed the abil­i­ty of Austal to pro­vide high­ly suc­cess­ful long-term, inte­grat­ed ship and sup­port solu­tions to mil­i­tary require­ments.

“The ship has been meet­ing the Marine Corps’ logis­tics require­ments for over a decade, and doing so with vir­tu­al­ly 100 per cent reli­a­bil­i­ty, reflect­ing the qual­i­ty of both the ship and the in ser­vice sup­port we have sup­plied over the same peri­od,” he said.

“The ship’s suc­cess was a sig­nif­i­cant fac­tor in us becom­ing prime con­trac­tor for the US Navy’s Joint High Speed Ves­sel and Lit­toral Com­bat Ship pro­grams, and indeed demon­strates the val­ue these new class­es of ship will bring to the US Navy.

“The fact that we have helped “West­Pac Express” to main­tain exem­plary per­for­mance since deliv­ery demon­strates our abil­i­ty to pro­vide effec­tive sup­port ser­vices to the JHSV and LCS fleets in the future, which is part of our strat­e­gy to devel­op the sup­port part of our busi­ness.” Austal recent­ly launched the first of sev­en JHSVs it has been con­tract­ed to build, and is prepar­ing to the launch the sec­ond of four con­tract­ed LCSs, the first of which was deliv­ered in Decem­ber 2009. Con­tract options for a fur­ther three JHSVs and eight LCS are still to be exer­cised by the US Navy.

Orig­i­nal­ly described as a The­atre Sup­port Ves­sel (TSV), “West­Pac Express” was first char­tered to the III MEF in July 2001 for a “proof of con­cept” peri­od. This was the first time the US mil­i­tary had con­tract­ed a com­mer­cial ves­sel of this type for mil­i­tary sup­port. This char­ter was so suc­cess­ful that, after com­pet­i­tive ten­ders, the MSC signed a three year char­ter in Jan­u­ary 2002 which was sub­se­quent­ly extend­ed to Feb­ru­ary 2007. In 2005, MSC again sought com­pet­i­tive ten­ders for a new char­ter of up to 55 months and, after strong inter­na­tion­al com­pe­ti­tion from oth­er high speed ves­sel designs, “West­Pac Express” once more proved to offer the best val­ue, com­mer­cial­ly and tech­ni­cal­ly. That char­ter was sub­se­quent­ly extend­ed to Feb­ru­ary 2012. The new char­ter was award­ed after a sim­i­lar com­pet­i­tive ten­der­ing process.

Includ­ed in the ship’s many achieve­ments over the years was its sup­port of human­i­tar­i­an relief oper­a­tions fol­low­ing the Japan­ese earth­quake and tsuna­mi ear­li­er this year. As part of Oper­a­tion Tomodachi, “West­Pac Express” deliv­ered a For­ward Arm­ing and Refu­el­ing Point for use in the assis­tance oper­a­tions. This enabled air­craft to con­duct con­tin­u­ous oper­a­tions with­out hav­ing to return to an estab­lished air­port to obtain fuel, mean­ing heli­copters could fly res­cue and trans­port mis­sions almost non-stop. The high speed cata­ma­ran also trans­port­ed oth­er sup­plies, com­mu­ni­ca­tions equip­ment and per­son­nel used in the relief oper­a­tions.

In recog­ni­tion of this ser­vice MSC Admi­ral Buz­by pre­sent­ed the ship’s crew with Unit­ed States Mer­chant Marine Medals for Out­stand­ing Achieve­ment at a cer­e­mo­ny on board the ship in Yoko­hama, Japan

Fur­ther Infor­ma­tion
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Fax: 61 8 9410 2564


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