An Alabama shipyard won a $91.54 million contract to build three next-generation landing craft for the Navy, according to a Wednesday contract announcement.
The contract for Austal opens a second source for the LCU-1700s following an initial $18 million 2018 contract award to the Swiftship shipyard in Louisiana. Swiftship won subsequent options in 2019, 2020 and 2021.
The LCU-1700, typically deployed from the Navy’s amphibious warships, is designed to be a heavy landing craft for Marine equipment. The landing craft follows the 1950s era LCU-1610, which the Navy and Marines have long looked to replace. The Navy’s initial plan was for 31 of the heavy landing craft.
“LCU are carried aboard amphibious assault ships to the objective area and used across a range of military operations to deliver vehicles, personnel and cargo from sea-to-shore and back. These connectors provide a heavy-lift capability and can carry about the same payload capacity as seven C-17 aircraft,” reads a Thursday statement from Austal USA.
The 139-foot craft displaces about 425 tons fully loaded with a crew of 13 capable of transporting the equivalent of two M1A1 main battle tanks or 350 combat-loaded troops. The LCU-1700s are set to have a top speed of 11 knots and a range of 1,200 nautical miles at eight knots.
Austal was initially stood up by its Australian parent to build aluminum warships but, in the last two years, has added a steel line.
In addition the LCUs, the Alabama yard is building the Navajo-class Towing, Salvage and Rescue Ship (T-ATS) program. The company won the $144.6 million contract in 2021 to build two of the option ships.
The yard is also contracted to build the steel Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Cutter and design work for the T-AGOS(X) ocean surveillance ship.