The shipbuilding giant has secured an order for the development of another expeditionary fast transport vessel.
The United States Navy has exercised a US$230.5 million (AU$324.6 million) fixed-priced incentive contract option with Austal USA for the design and construction of Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) 16, expected to be the third ship constructed with “Flight II” configuration to enhance medical and aviation capabilities.
EPF 16 would follow the delivery of 12 EPF ships to the Navy since 2012, with EPFs 13, 14 and 15 currently under construction at Austal USA’s shipyard in Mobile, Alabama.
Construction of EPF 16 is scheduled to commence later this year with delivery projected for 2025.
The US Navy’s EPF fleet is deployed for humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, maritime security, surveillance, command and control, and counter narcotic missions.
Flight II ships are designed to enhance the original capabilities of the Spearhead Class EPFs by incorporating reconfigurable spaces for operating and post-surgical recovery efforts.
“Austal’s Flight II EPFs will further enhance the US Navy’s capability and enable a fast response with expanded medical support facilities available for any mission or theatre of operation,” Austal Limited CEO Paddy Gregg said.
“We are delighted to see the EPF platform being deployed globally, and we’re excited to begin production of another highly capable ship for the United States Navy.”
Austal USA’s receipt of this latest US Navy contract comes just weeks after the company officially opened a new US$100 million (AU$134 million) steel shipbuilding facility in Mobile, Alabama, designed to support the simultaneous production of both aluminium and steel hulled vessels.
The 11,000-square metre manufacturing facility is expected to support the development of two Navajo Class Towing, Salvage, and Rescue Ships (T-ATS) for the United States Navy as part of a US$144 million (AU$193 million) contract awarded in October 2021.
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The manufacturing hub, which was jointly financed by a Defense Production Act (DPA) Title III Agreement between the United States Department of Defense and Austal USA, includes computerised and robotic steel processing equipment.
A 6,000-square metre stockyard will be utilised for handling the raw steel, while a 2,000-square metre paint facility supports the simultaneous painting and blasting in two separate cells.
Both cells can also be combined providing the ability to paint super-modules.
[Related: Austal opens new steel shipbuilding facility]