COMMERCIAL NEWS - Austal Submits final multi-vessel LCS proposal 

Commerical News - Austal Submits Final Multi-Vessel LCS Proposal 

Australian shipbuilder Austal says it has submitted its best and final offer to the US Navy for a 10-vessel Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) contract. 

If awarded the contract, Austal said 2000 more jobs will be created at the company’s Mobile, Alabama shipyard, adding to its current US workforce of 1500.

The LCS program began in 2002 with the US Navy's pursuit of a new class of up to 55 ships for multi-mission support. The LCS is envisioned to be a versatile, networked, agile, surface combatant capable of defeating anti-access and asymmetric threats in the littorals.

In October 2005, Austal, as a part of the General Dynamics LCS team, was one of two bidders awarded a landmark construction contract for one of two LCS Flight 0 ships, USS Independence (LCS 2), followed by a contract to build a second Independence-class LCS Flight 0 ship, Coronado (LCS 4), in May 2009. Austal says it is now the prime contractor bidding for the 10-ship program plus five additional sets of Selected Ship System Equipment for the second source shipbuilder.

While General Dynamics Bath Iron Works remains the prime contractor on Coronado (LCS 4), it and Austal revoked their current teaming arrangement in February 2010 to allow General Dynamics Bath Iron Works to compete for the proposed “second source” competition for the winning design. The delivered Final Revised Proposal consisted of almost 70,000 pages and a decision is expected by the Navy sometime in August.

Austal says it has worked closely with its suppliers, its teammate General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, the State of Alabama, and local city and county authorities to develop a very competitive offering. The company said its LCS Team delivers proven design and construction expertise of commercially derived high-speed combat vessels in the USA and the integration of military computing environments for weapons, sensors, and communications.

Regarding the proposal submitted by the Austal LCS team, Austal USA president and COO, Joe Rella commented, “Austal USA has come a long way from first arriving in Mobile, the silicon valley of shipbuilding, 10 years ago.

“By leveraging the shipbuilding experience gained in Australia, the lessons learned from the LCS and Joint High Speed Vessel programs, our investment in facilities, combined with the best shipbuilders in the world, we have created the critical mass necessary to provide the lowest risk and best valued solution as prime contractor for this program. Without a doubt, we offer the most innovative, efficient, and capable vessel to the Navy,” he said.

Austal said its partner, General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, will continue to make a major contribution in delivering the non-proprietary open-architecture computing environment that forms the backbone of this flexible mission LCS.

Austal added that its shipyard in Mobile has proven that is has the necessary infrastructure, processes, and skilled workforce in place to design, construct, deliver and service 100-metre-plus high-speed ships in the USA.

Austal USA’s first 127m trimaran LCS, USS Independence (LCS 2), recently sailed away from Austal’s shipyard to join the fleet at its current location in Norfolk, Virginia.

Austal said it has under construction the second Flight 0 Independence Class LCS, Coronado (LCS 4) and the first of three contracted 103m Joint High Speed Vessels, Spearhead (JHSV 1), part of a joint contract between the US Army and US Navy.

The keel laying ceremony for Spearhead is scheduled to take place at Austal’s shipyard on July 22.

Photo: The Austal designed and built LCS.