Australian shipbuilder Austal has been awarded US Navy contracts to build two more of its Independence Class Littoral Combat Ships (LCS).
These will be ships 16 and 17 in this class.
Austal chief executive David Singleton said this latest order was a tremendous endorsement of the Austal LCS platform and further evidence of the important role Austal played in building the US Navy.
“We continue hearing positive feedback from the fleet commanders on how well our ships match their mission requirements as they operate globally,” he said.
“We remain dedicated to building these ships safely, timely and with the quality and craftsmanship that Austal has built our reputation on.”
The specific value of each contract is below the congressional cost cap of US$584 million per ship. That makes the deal worth $1.6 billion for both vessels.
The 127-metre, frigate-sized, 3,000-tonne LCS was originally designed in the Austal centre for excellence in maritime design, based in Henderson, Western Australia.
The LCS design has been transferred to Austal USA with construction undertaken in Austal’s purpose-built shipyard in Mobile, Alabama.
Austal is an Australian industry success story, successfully breaking into the difficult US warship market.
Last month, the company released its 2017-18 results, with a 154 per cent increase to its net profit after tax, driven by an exceptional performance across its US Navy shipbuilding programs and growth in the commercial ferry market.
Austal said it continued to reduce costs and to deliver on schedule.
The company delivered three LCS vessels to the US Navy this year, all under the congressional cost cap.
Construction of LCS 32 is scheduled to begin in 2019 with delivery of LCS 34 expected to occur in mid-fiscal year 2023.
Austal delivered the future USS Charleston (LCS 18) to the Navy last month.
Austal also makes fast catamaran transport ships for the US Navy under the Expeditionary Fast Transport program, with USNS Burlington (EPF 10) to be delivered before the end of the year.
Under the LCS program, the US Navy is acquiring a class of relatively small high-speed combat vessels designed specifically for a range of missions in inshore waters.
Rather than a single design, the US Navy opted for two classes, the Austal-made Independence Class, which features a trimaran hull, and the Freedom Class single hull vessel made by Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Wisconsin.
Austal said the LCS has been identified as a key component of the US Navy’s ability to gain sea control through distributed lethality.