Austal USA

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Austal USA
Headquarters100 Addsco Road
Mobile, Alabama, U.S.
ProductsAluminium commercial and
defense vessels
Number of employees

Austal USA is the American branch of operations for Australian shipbuilder Austal. The facility, based on Blakeley Island in Mobile, Alabama employed more than 3,100 workers in early 2012, and has since grown to a little over 4,000 employees and contractors as of 2016.[1][2][3] Due to expanded shipbuilding contracts from the United States Navy, the company announced in March 2012 that it planned to invest an additional $160 million in upgrades to its facilities and to increase its workforce to roughly 4,000 employees in the next few years.[1][when?]


The Alakai during sea trials in 2007 for Hawaii Superferry.

The company built the Lake Express for service across Lake Michigan, and the Alakai for Hawaii Superferry. Huakai, the second high-speed vehicle-passenger catamaran for Hawaii Superferry has been launched at Austal USA. At 113 meters (371 feet) long, the new vessel is 6 meters (20 feet) longer than the Alakai, thanks to a bi-fold ramp, added by Austal to its stern, for use in austere ports without shore-side loading facilities, making it suitable for military use. The National Geographic Channel series MegaStructures featured an episode in September 2007 that detailed the construction, launch, and sea trials of the Alakai, the first catamaran Hawaii Superferry.[4]

Austal USA is also currently constructing the Independence class of littoral combat ships for the United States Navy, based on a 127 m (417 ft) advanced trimaran seaframe, with one completed and a second under construction as of 2010.[5] In March 2015, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus testified before Congress that the Navy intends to purchase a total of 52 the vessels. The final 20 will be upgraded with new capabilities. The cost of each ship is about $350 million.[6]

USS Independence (LCS-2) at the Austal USA shipyards along the Mobile River in Mobile, Alabama.

It was announced on November 12, 2008 that Austal USA had won a U. S. Navy contract to build ten high-speed transport ships, known as the Spearhead class Joint High Speed Vessel. The design, with a catamaran seaframe, is drawn from the Austal-built MV Westpac Express. Unlike the Littoral Combat Ship, the Joint High Speed Vessel will be for transport, not combat.[2]

The bankruptcy of Hawaii Superferry and the construction problems on their first Littoral Combat Ship reduced Austal's profit margin to only $9.2 million on revenue of $500 million in 2009.[7]

On July 22, 2010, Austal USA hosted a keel-laying ceremony at its shipyard in Mobile, Alabama to signify the erection of the first modules on USAV Spearhead (JHSV 1), lead ship in the 10-ship Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) program, The JHSV program has a potential worth of over $1.6 billion for the company.[8] On December 27, 2012, the navy awarded its final option under its current contract, and ordered JHSV-10.[9]

On March 31, 2015, Austal USA signed a contract with US Navy worth $691 million for two Independence-class ships. Shipyard builds for the Independence class is in Mobile, Alabama. Under this contract, the company plans to request three LCSs per year through 2025.

Austal USA also signed a contract for 10 Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSVs). One of them, the Trenton (JHSV 5) completed acceptance trials March 13 and was delivered on April 13, 2015 to the Navy's Military Sealift Command.[10]

On May 5, 2016, Austal USA has been awarded a $18.5 million contract from the Navy for the 12th Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) vessel.[11]

Austral has also been selected as one of the five finalists entered for the FFG(X) competition for the US Navy's new class of 20 frigates. In April 2017 Austal unveiled a larger more heavily armed design based on the proven Independence LCS trimaran hull called the "Austal Frigate".[12]


Unionizing efforts[edit]

Following complaints from the Sheet Metal Workers' International Association (SMWIA), Austal USA has twice been found to have engaged in unfair labor practices with respect to the organizing effort of unions by the National Labor Relations Board. Unionization had been rejected by employees in elections held in May 2002 and April 2008.[13] A third attempt in August 2011 was again rejected with a vote of 613 against unionization to 367 for it. The SMWIA filed a new complaint with the labor board after the result.[14]

Discrimination allegations[edit]

In March 2008, the company was sued by 22 employees for alleged racial discrimination and a hostile work environment.[15] The company was found not guilty in separate discrimination trials that culminated in October 2011 and January 2012. A request for a new discrimination trial was rejected in March 2012 by a federal court.[16] After appeals, seven of the plaintiffs were allowed to proceed to trial. Juries found in favor of Austal USA in April 2015.[17]


  1. ^ a b c April M., Havens (16 March 2012). "Austal USA receives 2 more contracts to build littoral combat ships for Navy". Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  2. ^ a b Wilkinson, Kaija (13 November 2008). "Austal in Mobile wins $1.6B Navy contract". Archived from the original on 3 December 2008. Retrieved 13 November 2008.
  3. ^ "Employment at Austal USA". "Austal Corporate Website". Archived from the original on 9 May 2008. Retrieved 3 December 2007.
  4. ^ "Austal-built Hawaii Superferry to Feature on National Geographic". "Austal Corporate Website". Archived from the original on 23 October 2007. Retrieved 3 December 2007.
  5. ^ "Austal Wins Second Littoral Combat Ship Order". "Austal Corporate Website". Archived from the original on 14 December 2007. Retrieved 3 December 2007.
  6. ^ Finch II, Michael (17 March 2015). "Navy Secretary Ray Mabus urges lawmakers not to slow production of littoral combat ships". Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  8. ^ "Keel Laying Ceremony for Spearhead JHSV." Maritime News. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
  9. ^ "Navy Exercises Tenth JHSV Construction Option". Marine Log. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
  10. ^ "Flurry of Contracts Spark US Navy Shipbuilding". Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  11. ^ Sam LaGrone (5 May 2016). "Austal USA Awarded Long Lead Contract for 12th EPF". USNI News. United States Naval Institute. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  12. ^ Austal Unveils Updated LCS Frigate Design with 16x Anti-Ship Missiles -, 5 April 2017
  13. ^ Murtaugh, Dan. "Union gets third shot at Austal workers." Press-Register, June 5, 2011.
  14. ^ Murtaugh, Dan (17 August 2011). "Austal union election result contested by Sheet Metal Workers". Press Register. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  15. ^ Murtaugh, Dan "Austal race claims must go to trial, federal judge rules." Press-Register, April 27, 2011.
  16. ^ Kirby, Brendan (26 March 2012). "Judge denies request for new trial in Austal discrimination case". Press Register. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  17. ^ Toner, Casey (2 April 2015). "Austal did not tolerate racial harassment, juries rule". Retrieved 3 April 2015.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 30°41′32″N 88°01′59″W / 30.69214°N 88.03298°W / 30.69214; -88.03298