The US state department has awarded Austal USA a contract for the construction of an additional two Independence-variant littoral combat ships (LCS) for the US Navy.
According to Austal, this brings the total of new LCS orders booked in calendar year 2018 to four ships.
For competition reasons the US Navy has not announced the actual contract value but has stated that award is under the congressional cost cap of US$584 million per ship.
“This latest order from the US Navy is a tremendous endorsement of Austal’s unique aluminium trimaran and further evidence of the important role Austal plays in building the United States Navy” Austal CEO, David Singleton said.
“The award of LCS 36 and 38 will mean that Austal has a forward order book of a further ten ships to deliver in a continuous production program that now extends out to 2025.”
With nine delivered, and a further ten vessels either under construction or awaiting construction (including the future USS Canberra), these two additional ships represent Austal’s eighteenth and nineteenth ships in the Independence-class.
Trinidad and Tobago Cape-class patrol boat arrangement
The US Navy LCS order came days ahead of an agreement between the governments of Australia and the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago (GoRTT) under which Australia will lend GoRTT up to AU$80 million for the acquisition of two Cape-class patrol boats which are built by Austal.
Austal previously reported in July the intention of the GoRTT to purchase these patrol boats. An interim schedule protection agreement has been signed and a fee is due to be paid to allow Austal to commence some work on the project and to order long lead time items.
The GoRTT had previously requested that purchase of the ships be supported by a financing package to be provided by the Australian Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC).
Austal expects that a contract will not be announced until late in quarter 1 of the 2019 calendar year.