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30 years of success for Austal

Australian shipbuilder Austal is celebrating 30 years of success (Source Austal)

Australian-based shipbuilder, Austal has celebrated its 30th anniversary with a series of local and global wins, including an on-time, on-budget delivery of the company's new Pacific Patrol Boats. 

Australian-based shipbuilder, Austal has celebrated its 30th anniversary with a series of local and global wins, including an on-time, on-budget delivery of the company's new Pacific Patrol Boats. 

Austal is an Australian success story, as the country's largest defence exporter and the only ASX-listed shipbuilder, Austal has industry-leading shipyards in Australia, the United States of America and Philippines and service centres worldwide, which for 30 years have designed and constructed in excess of 300 vessels for over 100 operators in 54 countries. 

Since 1988, Austal has designed, constructed and supported commercial vessels, including passenger ferries, vehicle passenger ferries, offshore and wind farm vessels, and is an acknowledged leader in the development and sustainment of advanced naval and other defence support vessels.


Austal’s capabilities and strong reputation for quality shipbuilding grew from its early success in the development of high speed passenger and vehicle passenger ferries, offshore and wind farm vessels. Locally, Austal has employed 6,000 Australians over the past 30 years, with 888 staff employed around the country, while the company has employed 10,000 people internationally over the same period.  

The innovative catamaran and trimaran designs introduced by Austal, highlight the expertise in the construction of high performance aluminium vessels and ability to customise proven commercial platforms to meet customer requirements and they continue to be sought after by the world’s leading maritime fleet operators.

Austal’s commercial shipbuilding operations are located in Henderson, Western Australia and Balamban in Cebu, in the Philippines.

David Singleton, Austal CEO explained the humble beginnings of the company, saying "One of the big successes early on was selling high-speed catamarans to China, Hong Kong in particular. Central to this early success was the design and technology side of the business which has resulted in the largest order book in the company's history, the need to triple the size of the Philippines shipyard and we are looking at purchasing an additional overseas facility in addition to the yard at Henderson." 

The company is perhaps best known for it's high capability, advanced naval vessels, most notably the Independence Class Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) for the United States Navy, military high speed support vessels for transport and humanitarian relief, such as the Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) for the United States Navy and the High Speed Support Vessel (HSSV) for the Royal Navy of Oman.

Singleton expanded on the success of the company in the US, saying "Austal invented the high-speed, aluminium trimaran hull, the success of which has been amazing, particularly with the United States Navy, which has seen the company secure $10 billion worth of warships on the books, to be constructed at the shipyards in Mobile, Alabama." 

Austal also designs, constructs, integrates and maintains an extensive range of patrol boats for government law enforcement and border protection agencies globally, including the Cape-Class Patrol Boat for the Australian Border Force and Royal Australian Navy, and the new Guardian Class Patrol Boat for the Commonwealth of Australia.

"We started with the Bay and Armidale class, which evolved into the Cape class and the Pacific Patrol Boats, the first of which began sea trials today, on time and on budget," said Singleton.  

Complementing Austal’s capabilities in shipbuilding is the company’s expertise in the development and integration of advanced vessel control and information management systems, such as Austal's MarineLink control and monitoring system and Austal's customised motion control systems.

MarineLink allows extensive monitoring of vessel machinery and systems with the added flexibility to tailor the system to individual operator needs, overcoming limitations inherent in proprietary third-party systems.

Austal’s proven Ride Control system provides improved seakeeping capability through enhanced computer controlled motion reduction – ensuring a smoother, more stable, productive and comfortable ride for crew, passengers and cargo.

The company offers both defence and commercial operators the latest in maritime technologies to optimise the performance of their ships and their complex on-board information management, communications, radar and weapons systems.

Austal’s defence vessels  continue to be developed by experienced naval architects, designers and engineers utilising the very latest in naval architecture systems and constructed in industry leading shipbuilding facilities in Mobile, Alabama USA and Henderson, Western Australia.

Austal is an Australian shipbuilder and global defence prime contractor which designs constructs and sustains some of the world’s most advanced commercial and defence vessels. The company successfully balances commercial and defence projects and celebrates 30 years of success in 2018. Austal has designed, constructed and delivered more than 300 commercial and defence vessels for more than 100 operators in 54 countries worldwide.

Austal delivers iconic monohull, catamaran and trimaran commercial vessel platforms – including the world’s largest trimaran ferry and multiple defence programs such as the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) for the United States Navy. Austal has grown to become the world’s largest aluminium shipbuilder. 

In discussing the driving force behind the success of Austal over the past 30 years, Singleton credited chairman and one of the founders, John Rothwell, saying "John has been a relentless driving force behind the success of the company. John's tenacity, 'never-say-die' approach to the growth and success of the company has seen Austal grow locally and around the world." 

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