United States Ambassador to Australia, Jeffrey Bleich, and US Consul General in Perth, Aleisha Woodward, today visited Austal’s Henderson facility. There they met with Austal’s Chairman John Rothwell after touring the facility where the designs for the US Navy’s Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) were principally developed.
Austal has established strong ties with the US Government through its operations in Mobile, Alabama over the past 13 years and involvement in the LCS and JHSV programs for the US Navy.
Commenting during his visit Ambassador Bleich said: “The impressive facilities and capability at the Henderson shipyard demonstrates Austal’s ability to provide innovative solutions that meet the requirements of the US Navy.”
“Austal’s significant contribution in shaping the future US Navy fleet through the LCS and JHSV programs highlights the strong partnership between Australia and the United States.”
The JHSV Program will provide high speed, shallow draft transportation capability to support the intra-theatre manoeuvre of personnel, supplies and equipment for the US Navy, Army and Marine Corps. As prime contractor, Austal was awarded the construction contract for the first 103 metre JHSV in November 2008 and now has contracts for a further eight ships including two announced just prior to the Ambassador’s visit. The 10 ship program is potentially worth over US$1.6 billion dollars.
The LCS program began in 2002 with the US Navy’s pursuit of a new class of up to 55 ships with multi-mission capability. The LCS is a versatile, networked, agile, surface combatant capable of defeating anti-access and asymmetric threats in the littorals. Following the award of contracts to design and build two Independence-class LCSs as part of the General Dynamics LCS team, Austal is now the prime contractor for a follow-on 10-ship LCS program, potentially worth over $3.6 billion.
Austal recently celebrated its 13-year anniversary of US operations. In that time it has grown into one of southern Alabama’s largest employers with over 2,400 employees on staff hailing from the Mobile Area, Mississippi, Florida, and beyond. Under the current workload, Austal expects to employ over 4,000 Americans in its US operation by the end of 2013. Ships for both US Navy programs are built at the US facility.
Naval Today Staff , February 27, 2012; Image: austal