Austal USA Celebrates Opening of Steel Facility

Austal USA hosted a curtain drop ceremony today to celebrate the opening of the company’s state-of-the-art steel facility in front of over two hundred guests, including representatives from the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, federal, state and local government, and the Embassy of Australia. The addition of steel shipbuilding capability compliments the company’s well-established aluminum shipbuilding expertise.

“The opening of the new steel manufacturing line at Austal USA means south Alabama will be able to continue providing high-quality ships for the Navy,” said Rep. Jerry Carl. “This massive $100 million investment will also create jobs and spur economic growth throughout the region, while continuing to develop and grow our local workforce with the hiring of countless folks in the trades to meet the demands of the new line. With increasing security threats around the world, the work being done by shipbuilders like Austal USA is even more important now than ever before. That’s why ensuring they are able to continue competing for future Navy programs is one of my top priorities in Congress. I’m proud of the incredible work being done right here in my district, and I look forward to seeing south Alabama become a major player when it comes to steel shipbuilding.”

The 117,000 square foot manufacturing addition will house the latest state-of-the-art computerized and robotic steel processing equipment to handle all of the current and future demands of the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard.  A 60,000 square foot stock yard will be utilized for handling the raw steel and a 19,500 square foot paint facility will provide the ability to paint and blast simultaneously in two separate cells, or both cells can be combined providing the ability to paint super-modules.

Austal has delivered 15 Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) and 12 Expeditionary Fast Transports (EPF) to the Navy while another seven total aluminum Navy ships are under construction. The company is also under contract to build two Navajo-class Towing, Salvage, and Rescue Ships (T-ATS); these will be the first steel ships constructed in the new facility.

Financing for the new steel production line was provided in part by a Defense Production Act (DPA) Title III Agreement between the U.S. Department of Defense, in support of the U.S. Navy shipbuilding industrial base, and Austal USA.  The agreement, valued at $50 million, was announced in June 2020 and was part of the national response to COVID-19 to maintain, protect, and expand critical domestic shipbuilding and maintenance capacity.  Austal USA matched these funds and invested an additional $50 million into the completion of the steel facility.

Courtesy of Austal USA.

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Sara Mathov is a feature editor contributing to Fugitive Emissions Journal, Stainless steel World Americas, and other related print & online media.