Nov 04 2010

US Navy in talks to buy Austal ships

WALA TV

The U.S. Navy wants to award Austal a contract to build 10 Littoral Combat Ships. However, Austal's competitor, Lockheed Martin will also get a 10-ship deal. The Navy's plan to buy two competing designs for the Littoral Combat Ship, would divide a 20-ship buy between the two manufacturers.

The contract will allow Austal USA, which is located in Mobile, Alabama, to produce 10 ships for the Navy. This will mean that close to 2,000 jobs will be added in south Alabama to work on this program.

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) Wednesday made the following statement in response to the U.S. Navy’s decision to proceed with a dual procurement for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) by awarding the LCS contract to both Austal USA and Lockheed Martin.

“The Littoral Combat Ship award is extremely important to our Navy and will provide a new capability to face the asymmetric threats of the future.

“The LCS program is greatly needed for the Navy to operate in shallow waters to combat the threats of surface craft, submarines, and mines. Austal’s LCS trimaran is fast and maneuverable and the right ship to meet our military’s missions. This ship offers the greatest fuel efficiency and best combat capability for our warfighters.

"I remain concerned, however, about this new Navy acquisition strategy, how Secretary Mabus reached this decision, and the additional costs this will add to the program. I look forward to learning more about this decision in the coming days.”

U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, made the following comments Wednesday regarding the Navy’s proposal to purchase additional Littoral Combat Ships:

“In September of 2009, Congress authorized the Navy to downselect between two LCS designs and award one industry team a contract to build up to 10 ships. Secretary Mabus called me this morning to discuss an option that could allow the Navy to purchase additional Littoral Combat Ships. Secretary Mabus said the Navy would like to do a 10-ship buy with each ship builder, Austal USA in Mobile and Marinette Marine in Wisconsin, adding twenty LCS ships to the Navy’s fleet. Importantly, because of strong competition and price reductions, this plan can be accomplished without new funds.

“This is great news for Mobile and for the taxpayers. I am proud that the LCS program remains so competitive. Construction of 10 ships at Austal would more than double their sizeable current workforce from 1,800 to 4,000 employees over the next two to three years. The LCS decision would allow the Navy to obtain more ships in a shorter period of time, putting it on track to more quickly reach its goal of a 313-ship Navy. I applaud Secretary Mabus and the Navy for working toward this innovative solution. And, in a time of economic hardship, it is encouraging to see that Alabama’s industrial base is so strong.

“I believe that this is a good strategy, and I will strongly support it. The ultimate goal of the Navy for this priority program is 55 LCS vessels. The LCS vessels are a critical part of the Navy’s goal for a 313-ship Navy.”