Austal USA Shipyard Plans Major Steel Line Expansion

February 6, 2024 6:46 PM
Austal USA Image

Alabama shipbuilder Austal USA announced a shipyard expansion to add more capacity to build steel ships up to the size of a modern guided-missile destroyer, the company announced on Tuesday.
Construction on a new steel facility that will add a 192,000 square foot, three bay building will begin this summer. The building will sit on four and half acres of land at the site of the former Alabama Shipyard in Mobile, Austal USA recently purchased. When complete, the Mobile shipyard will cover 180 acres and have more than 1.5 million square feet of manufacturing space.

“With the steel panel line in full production our expansion focus has shifted to the erection and launch facilities required to support our growing backlog,” Austal USA’s acting president, Michelle Kruger, said in a Tuesday statement.

The new steel facility is estimated to cost $250 million, USNI News understands. It will provide more space to build Austal’s projects like the Heritage-class Offshore Patrol Cutter for the Coast Guard and the T-AGOS-25 ocean surveillance ship for the Navy. The announcement of the new Austal USA facility comes as the Navy considers adding a second yard to build the Constellation-class guided-missile frigate, following the Fincantieri Marinette Marine yard in Wisconsin.

While the release doesn’t address the Navy’s pending decision on the second frigate yard, Austal published an artist’s rendering of a Constellation-class frigate on the Pearlson & Pearlson Inc., ship lift platform that is capable of moving 18,000 tons.

“This capacity will facilitate the launch and docking of the U.S. Navy Constellation-class Frigates, TAGOS-25 class Ocean Surveillance Ships, Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ships, and the U.S. Coast Guard Heritage-class Offshore Patrol Cutter,” reads the statement.
“The system will also enable retrieving ships and bringing them back on the land-side facility.”

HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding used a similar system to lift guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) for repairs at its shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss.

The Alabama yard is also building the Navajo-class towing, salvage and rescue ship (T-ATS), the first ship on the steel line that Austal converted from its original aluminum manufacturing facility. Growing pains for the Navajo line resulted in a $40 million write-down for Austal USA’s Australian parent last year. Austal USA is also the second yard for the next-generation LCU-1700 landing craft.

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
Follow @samlagrone

Get USNI News updates delivered to your inbox