The US Navy has exercised contract options funding the construction of two additional Austal Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV) – as part of an existing 10-vessel, AUD$1.8 billion program.
Austal previously received US Navy funding for long lead-time material, including diesel engines, water jets and reduction gears, for these two vessels in June 2009. The additional work is valued at approximately AUD$225 million.
Intended as the US Department of Defense’s next-generation multi-use platform, the two 103 metre high speed vessels will be constructed at Austal’s US facility, located in Mobile, Alabama.
Austal was selected as Prime contractor for the JHSV program in November 2008, which included construction of the first JHSV and options for nine additional vessels to be exercised between FY09 and FY13. Construction of the first Austal JHSV commenced in December 2009.
Austal Managing Director Bob Browning commented: “By exercising Options 2 and 3, the US Navy has signaled its support of this important and significant multi-vessel program.”
“The JHSV program could serve to extend the United States’ ability to provide humanitarian relief globally and Austal is pleased to be able to contribute to this effort through the speedy delivery of this highly flexible, low-cost vessel.”
Similar to the Austal-built “WestPac Express” operated by the US Marines for the past nine years, but with the addition of a helo deck, the JHSV will be capable of transporting troops and their equipment, supporting humanitarian relief efforts, operating in shallow waters, and reaching speeds in excess of 35 knots fully loaded.
Two other Austal USA-built high-speed vehicle ferries, “Alakai” and “Huakai”, are currently supporting the ongoing relief operation in Haiti. The JHSVs will be a joint-use platform operated by both the United States Army and Navy.
Austal USA’s President and Chief Operating Officer Joe Rella commented, “The Navy’s decision to proceed with full construction of the second and third JHSVs will serve to underpin the momentum in our shipyard and support Austal USA’s objective of driving greater efficiency and associated cost controls in its shipbuilding programs.”
Construction is also underway at Austal USA on a second 127 metre Austal-designed and built Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) for the US Navy, with the first, “USS Independence”, commissioned earlier in the month. The US Navy continues to express a commitment to a 55-vessel LCS program.
Austal USA’s new state-of the-art 35,000m2 Modular Manufacturing Facility (MMF) facilitates the concurrent construction of both JHSV and LCS platforms. Austal USA’s workforce is expected to grow to more than 1500 as a result of the JHSV program.
Austal is teamed with General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems who will design, integrate, and test the ship’s electronic systems, including an Open Architecture Computing Infrastructure, internal and external communications, electronic navigation, aviation, and armament systems.