Austal USA was awarded a $91,535,551 fixed-price incentive and firm-fixed-price type modification to definitize a previously awarded contract for the detail design and construction of three Landing Craft Utility (LCU) 1700 class craft. The contract also includes options for nine additional craft and associated support efforts.
“Austal USA is honored to be able to build this important connector for the U.S. Navy,” commented Dave Growden, vice president of new construction projects. “We recognize the critical role this platform plays in supporting expeditionary operations for the Navy and Marine Corps and are looking forward to continuing to deliver ships and boats to our customers on time and on budget.”
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.
Austal USA continues to diversify its product line in both steel and aluminum. Production is ongoing for two Navy Towing, Salvage and Rescue Ships (T-ATS) and the Navy’s 90,800 square-foot Auxiliary Floating Dry Dock Medium (AFDM) on the company’s state-of-the-art steel line. Austal USA also holds multi-ship contracts for the Navy’s TAGOS-25 ocean surveillance ship and the U.S. Coast Guard’s Heritage-class Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) programs.
Naval News Comments:
The US Navy’s plans call for buying 30 LCU-1700s, but it remains unclear how the construction will be divided between Austal USA and Swiftships LLC, the current builder of the LCU 1700. According to Navy budget documents, Swiftships has struggled with the construction of the LCU 1700 craft, citing several issues that range from labor issues, and material availability to design issues.
Due to the pressing need to replace the aging LCU 1610, the Navy brought in Austal USA as a second source to handle the construction of the LCU-1700. Four of the five Fiscal Year 2021 craft that were initially awarded to Swiftships are now being awarded to Austal USA. The company will also receive contracts for four craft planned for FY2022.
The contract awarded to Austal USA follows several major contracts the company has been awarded in the last few years. Austal USA’s future was a bit uncertain as work on the Independence Class Littoral Combat Ship started to wind down in recent years.
However, in anticipation, the company began investing in a steel production facility. This allowed Austal USA to expand their business line beyond the capabilities of the current line which was limited to building aluminum ships. This investment is starting to pay off as the company now has a solid backlog of work ranging from Auxiliary Floating Drydocks, Towing, Salvage, and Rescue ships to the Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Cutter.