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Austal USA Breaks Ground on New Steel-Hull Assembly Hall

Austal shiplift
Courtesy Austal

Published Jul 9, 2024 9:49 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

Austal USA is expanding again with the construction of a new final assembly building, the second phase in the process of creating a new steel-hull production line for the longtime aluminum-hull specialist. 

The company is building out new infrastructure to the south of its current yard, to include quayside improvements, a new assembly building and a new 18,000-ton shiplift by Pearlson. The objective is to bring the expansion facility online by mid-2026. 

The 200,000-square-foot assembly building will be the third of its kind at Austal USA, and it will provide three covered bays for putting together large modules for Navy and Coast Guard contracts. With support from the Department of Defense, Austal has expanded into steel production, and it has secured contracts for the re-bid Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC); the TAGOS-25 surveillance vessel series; and the Navy's next generation of salvage tugs. Austal USA is widely rumored to be a contender for a "follow-on" contract to produce Constellation-class frigates; this role would augment the existing frigate contract for Fincantieri's Marinette shipyard (if the Navy opts to pursue a two-shipbuilder strategy). The new shiplift at Austal is designed to accommodate vessels like the Constellation-class.

“Austal USA is poised for significant growth, and this infrastructure expansion plan reflects that,” commented Austal USA President Michelle Kruger.  “Austal USA’s investment in this latest facility expansion project reflects our commitment to supporting the implementation of the National Defense Industrial Strategy.” 

Taken all together, the investments will give Austal USA a combined workspace of about 1.5 million square feet on a campus of 180 acres in size. It is by far the largest operation of its Australian parent company, Austal. 

Austal was approached by Korean shipbuilding giant Hanwha Ocean with a takeover offer in April, but the talks stalled quickly under opposition from Austal's board. Hanwha has since acquired Norwegian-owned, U.S.-based Philly Shipyard, securing a different American facility for its expansion ambitions.