7 months ago

Austal USA awarded two more Littoral Combat Ship contracts

The news keeps getting better for Austal USA, which builds its Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ships in Mobile.

After delivering an already historic three LCS this year, Austal was awarded a contract by the U.S. Navy on Monday to build two additional LCS for the nation’s fleet. The new contract brings the total to four LCS awarded to Austal USA in 2018 alone.

A press release from the company confirmed that the specific value of each contract is under the congressional cost cap of $584 million per ship.

“To be awarded two more LCS contracts before the end of the year is beyond exciting,” Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle said. “This contract directly reflects the confidence the U.S. Navy has in Austal USA and our supplier base of over 10,000 nationwide and our ability to build highly capable ships at an affordable cost.”

With eight delivered, six under construction and three awaiting start of construction, these two newly awarded ships (LCS-36 and LCS-38) represent Austal USA’s 18th and 19th ships in the class.

“The skill, hard work, and dedication of our employees is second to none and strengthens as we continue to play an important role in helping build the Navy’s 355-ship fleet,” Perciavalle added.

The company emphasized that as the Littoral Combat Ship’s role continues to take shape as a key component to the Navy’s ability to gain sea control through distributed lethality, Austal USA continues to deliver ships on-time and on-budget to support the needs of the fleet.

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-1) celebrated the news of the contracts on Monday.

“This is yet another huge development for @Austal_USA and shows that they continue to meet the expectations and needs of the @USNavy,” Byrne tweeted.

The Independence-variant LCS, along with Austal USA’s highly-successful Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF), are designed, constructed and well positioned to meet the needs of the fleet today and into the future. The flexibility and capacity of the company’s Mobile shipyard, the Independence-variant LCS and the EPF are well suited to rapidly and efficiently support the Navy’s desired fleet of 355 ships with affordable solutions.

Lockheed Martin manufactures the Freedom-variant LCS, which is the competitor to Austal USA’s variant. US Naval Institute News noted that “Austal has in recent years been churning out its ships faster and for a lower cost,” explaining the company being preferred for contracts.

USNI News further outlined, “Just one ship remains to be awarded before the Navy transitions from the LCS to the frigate – either LCS-31 or LCS-40, depending on which company is awarded the contract – and negotiations between the Navy and industry are ongoing.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

Alabama high school students’ experiment set to launch to International Space Station

One local public education system in Alabama is helping give a new meaning to the phrase, “The sky’s the limit.”

Students from Winfield City High School are set to have their experiment launch on Sunday to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP).

SpaceX-18 is set to depart Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 7:32 p.m. EDT on July 21 with the payload designated “SSEP15 – Gemini.” This signifies SSEP’s 15th overall flight opportunity and is the 13th SSEP mission to the ISS. NanoRacks handles stowage of the payload on the spacecraft.

The launch will come the day after the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the Moon.

Student experiments were chosen from around the Western Hemisphere through a process that began in the fall of 2018.

334

Entitled “Purification of Water in Microgravity,” Winfield’s experiment will join experiments from 39 other communities in being tested in a laboratory setting aboard the ISS over an approximately four-week period.

Winfield’s proposal summary as follows:

The recent discovery of water on Mars has opened a possibility of new ways that the life sustaining liquid can be obtained in space travel. This new method would rely on collecting water from space bodies that are not our own. The only problem with this method is determining if this water would be safe to drink. Our team is proposing to study if microgravity has any effect on the purification of water. We would collect water from a non-sterile source, like a pond and mix it with purification tablets. Next, we would test the water to see if anything harmful survived.

The Winfield 12th grade students designated as co-principal investigators on the experiment are Luke Clark, Tanner Edmond, Davis Holdbrooks, Luke Jungels and Savannah Williamson. Jennifer Birmingham is their teacher facilitator.

Winfield’s SSEP students precisely measuring the amount of iodine tablet for their Water Purification experiment. (Contributed)

Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-04), whose district includes Winfield, told Yellowhammer News that he is proud of his young constituents.

“It’s great to see these students engaging in this type of science,” the congressman said. “I congratulate them and their teachers at Winfield for participating in this program.”

“It also shows how space applications have a direct impact on the quality of life back here on earth. I look forward to following their experiment and seeing its outcome,” Aderholt concluded.

SpaceX-18 is slated to berth at the ISS one to four days after launching.

Read more about “SSEP Mission 13 to ISS” here.

Winfield City Schools also was represented on “SSEP Mission 12 to ISS” last year, when Winfield Middle School students saw their experiment make the trip.

Watch:

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

Mobile Bay reefs project aims to help renew aquatic habitats, vanishing shoreline

The following is the latest installment of the Alabama Power Foundation’s annual report, highlighting the people and groups spreading good across Alabama with the foundation’s support.

 

If you were able to travel back a couple of hundred years and visit the edge of Mobile Bay near where Helen Wood Park is today, you’d see miles and miles of marshland, veined with tidal creeks and teeming with fish and other marine creatures that look to the safety of the marsh to spawn.

At low tide, there would be vast mounds of oysters around the edge of an estuary that was about 30 feet deep at its deepest point. The marshes and oyster beds of the past didn’t only serve as havens for creatures. They reduced the ability of storm tides to erode the mainland.

434

But a lot can change in a pair of centuries. The oyster reefs that used to encircle the bay have dwindled, and there is more ship traffic. As a result, waves eroded the marshes and shore.

“We’ve changed the dynamics of the bay,” said Judy Haner, marine and freshwater programs director for The Nature Conservancy, which is leading the charge in rebuilding Mobile Bay. “What we’re doing now is trying to give that shoreline a fighting chance. We want to help boost those habitats, not only for fish and birds and wildlife, but also to protect the shoreline from erosion.”

In this effort, the Alabama Power Foundation provided resources to build reefs in the brackish waters off Helen Wood Park, in Lourdes on the west side of Mobile Bay, and the Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO) provided manpower.

In May 2018, some 60 APSO volunteers – aged 12 to 70-plus – rolled up their sleeves, put on their boots and clamdiggers and went about the business of reef building.

In the past, The Nature Conservancy had attempted to build replacement reefs using bags of spent oyster shells – the same ingredient nature uses for reefs. But the erosive power of waves proved too intense, scattering the bags of oyster shells. Now, the conservancy opts to use “oyster castles” to construct new reefs.

Oyster castles are a relatively new way of constructing artificial reefs, using interlocking 35-pound concrete blocks. APSO volunteers developed a system using plastic “barges” to move the blocks along a human chain that snaked out into the rich brown marsh waters adjacent to a bridge over the Dog River.

Over the course of eight hours, the team of Nature Conservancy and APSO volunteers built seven artificial reefs.

“This was a new project for us,” said Erin Delaporte, an Alabama Power Customer Service manager in Mobile who is the APSO chapter president and coordinated the project. “It was a very labor-intensive day, but it was a wonderful day. It was tough work. I heard someone say they had worked eight hours on the project, but it took 48 hours to recover.

“It was worth it,” Delaporte said. “It was one of the most unique projects we’ve ever done in Mobile.”

As for the reefs, the positive effect was instantaneous.

“We wanted to restore the vertical topography of that reef and restore the waves, and you see that pretty much right away,” Haner said.

While there will be future scientific measurement of the growth of the reefs, native fish and crabs found them soon after completion of the APSO project.

For more information on the Alabama Power Foundation and its annual report, visit here.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

15 hours ago

Montevallo named Tree City USA

Montevallo was named a 2018 Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation for the city’s commitment to effective urban forest management.

Montevallo met the program’s four requirements of having a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita and an Arbor Day observance or proclamation.

207

Tree City USA has been around since 1976, providing a framework for cities to keep their communities green and full of trees.

“Tree City USA communities see the impact an urban forest has in a community firsthand,” said Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Additionally, recognition brings residents together and creates a sense of community pride, whether it’s through volunteer engagement or public education.”

Montevallo also has Orr Park, a preserve along Shoal Creek known for tree carvings by local artist Tim Tingle.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation website, more than 3,400 communities have committed to becoming a Tree City USA. Several cities in Alabama have made the commitment, including Auburn, Birmingham, Mobile, Montgomery and Tuscaloosa. The total population of Tree City USA communities nationwide is about 145 million.

Trees serve a great purpose, increasing property values and wildlife habitat, while reducing home cooling costs and air pollution, said Montevallo Mayor Hollie Cost.

“Our natural world is at the very core of our existence. In Montevallo, we are a proud tribe of tree-huggers,” Cost said. “Being named a Tree City USA is a distinct honor, which we wholeheartedly embrace, appreciate and celebrate.”

To learn more about Tree City USA and the Arbor Day Foundation, visit https://www.arborday.org/programs/treeCityUSA/about.cfm.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

16 hours ago

VIDEO: McConnell’s Alabama relatives were slaveowners, big money being raised in the U.S. Senate race, citizenship question on census impacts Alabama and more on Guerrilla Politics …

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Dr. Waymon Burke take you through this week’s biggest political stories, including:

— Does Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) ancestors make him responsible for reparations?

— What does a surprising $300,000 in fundraising by State Representative Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) say about the Republican 2020 U.S. Senate primary?

— Now that Trump has caved on the citizenship question, what happens to the reapportionment lawsuit that has been brought by Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) and Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall?

70

Jackson and Burke are joined by criminal defense attorney Jake Watson to discuss the Jeffrey Epstein case and its fallout.

Jackson closes the show with a “parting shot” at the national media’s desire to have extremely flawed candidates on the ballot in Republican states solely so Democrats will have a chance at winning.

Guerrilla Politics – 7/14/19

VIDEO: McConnell's Alabama relatives were slaveowners, big money being raised in the U.S. Senate race, citizenship question on census impacts Alabama congressional seat lawsuit and more on Guerrilla Politics …

Posted by Yellowhammer News on Sunday, July 14, 2019

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN.

17 hours ago

State Sen. Chris Elliott: After Coastal Alabama, Toll Authority legislation could be next used in Birmingham, Huntsville

The use of tolls to fund part of the estimated $2.1 billion price tag for the proposed I-10 Mobile Bay Bridge has been the hot-button political issue for Mobile and Baldwin Counties.

Not only has it become a major topic in Alabama’s first congressional election campaign underway in southwestern Alabama, but it has also become one for the 2020 statewide U.S. Senate election campaign also underway.

Last week, Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law legislation that according to State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Daphne) could cut between $100 million and $200 million off that $2.1 billion price-tag for the project. During an appearance on Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal” that aired Friday, Elliott touted the SB154 bill’s cost-cutting effect.

However, he argued that beyond its use in Coastal Alabama, the bill could be used in other parts of the state, which suggests more tolled roadways could be on the way for Alabama.

204

“It’s going to be utilized,” Elliott said. “And when we realized this is where ALDOT was headed, we knew we needed to update the legislation. We needed to make sure we did everything we could to make efficient as possible so that if a toll was necessary, and ALDOT seems to think and probably is correct in saying a toll is necessary because of the lack of federal funding, then we do everything we can to drive the price down as much as we can to make sure that the cost to the folks in Alabama is as low as possible.”

“And that toll authority legislation, while it is probably going to be rolled out for the first time in coastal Alabama, could be used in other parts of the state as well, which is why I think it ultimately passed both houses and had the governor’s signature on it because the next time it gets used is going to be in Birmingham, or it’s going to be in Huntsville between Huntsville and Decatur, or some other area like that,” he added.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.