Austal USA on Friday broke ground in Mobile on its steel manufacturing line, positioning the company to start steel production in April 2022. The addition of steel capability ensures Austal will remain a major contributor to the U.S. shipbuilding industrial base for many years to come.
The company is headquartered in Mobile, where Austal USA builds aluminum ships at its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, such as advanced small surface combatant Independence-variant littoral combat ships and auxiliary expeditionary fast transports.
Just as Austal helped turn Mobile into the nation’s premier location for construction of aluminum ships, Friday’s milestone marked the beginning of a new era that is poised to see the company do the same for steel in the near future.
During World War II, residents of Alabama’s Port City built steel Liberty ships that were critical to the war effort. In the coming years, Austal will look to build and deliver steel ships needed by the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy, per a release from the company.
“This world-class steel manufacturing line is a treasure for the Gulf Coast, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard that will provide a much needed boost to the defense industrial base and our Nation’s defense,” stated Congressman Jerry Carl (AL-01).
Adding steel shipbuilding capability to Austal’s growing business portfolio comes after the company expanded its physical footprint in Mobile last year.
“As demand for the greater and larger Navy and Coast Guard fleets grows, Austal USA is investing to meet those changing requirements,” said Rusty Murdaugh, interim Austal USA president. “We’re investing in our people, we’re investing in our processes and we’re investing in our facilities and capabilities.”
Founded on innovation, effectiveness and efficiency, Austal is set to bring its proven lean manufacturing processes and facility design to the steel shipbuilding market. These processes have helped deliver 24 Alabama-built ships to the Navy in the last nine years. No other shipbuilder comes close to matching that performance.
“Each time we have invested in our facilities, our customers have seen a greater return on their investment,” Murdaugh added. “The steel ships that will come off this line will be the best, most efficient and most affordable steel ships in the Coast Guard and Navy fleets.”
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn