The Navy issued a $144.6 million contract to Austal USA to build two of the service’s Navajo-class towing, salvage and rescue ships, the first steel ships for the Alabama yard, the service announced this week.
The service awarded the detail design and construction contract on the last day of Fiscal Year 2021, but did not announce the contract until Tuesday.
“On September 30, 2021 the Navy awarded a $144.6 million contract to Austal USA for detailed design and construction of two Navajo Class (T-ATS 6) Towing, Salvage, and Rescue ships with options for up to three additional ships if authorized and appropriated,” Naval Sea Systems Command spokesperson Jamie Koehler said in a statement. “The T-ATS award builds upon the Department of Defense’s investment in Austal USA under the Defense Production Act to support development of its steel shipbuilding capability. The T-ATS vessels will be the first steel ships built by Austal USA.”
Austal USA, which is located in Mobile, Ala., has until now built aluminum ships, including the Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship with the trimaran hull. But the company has expanded its shipyard so it can build steel ships and bid for future Navy programs, USNI News previously reported.
“The Austal USA team is excited to get to work on this program and leverage our new steel manufacturing line to support the U.S. Navy’s and U.S. Coast Guard’s requirements for steel ships,” Rusty Murdaugh, the president of Austal USA, said in a news release. “Our consistent on-budget and on-schedule delivery of quality ships continues to lead the industry. Our highly skilled workforce prides itself on maintaining the excellence our customers have come to know and expect from Austal.”
While Gulf Island Shipyards, which Bollinger Shipyards acquired earlier this year, won awards to build the first few Navajo-class ships, schedule and yard issues caused the Navy to turn to Austal USA to build the last three ships, according to Fiscal Year 2022 service budget documents.
“T-ATS will provide ocean-going tug, salvage, and rescue capabilities to support U.S. fleet operations and will be a multi mission common hull platform capable of towing heavy ships. These ships will be able to support current missions, including oil spill response, humanitarian assistance, and wide area search and surveillance. The platform also enables future capability initiatives like modular payloads with hotel services and appropriate interfaces,” Austal USA said in the release.