Navy contracts with Austal and Marinette to build more LCS vessels

The U.S. Navy has awarded options to both Austal USA, Mobile, Ala., and Marinette Marine Corp., Marinette, Wis., to build two more LCS (littoral combat ships) vessels each. The contracts have been in place for years, but the announcement means the Navy now has the funds to pay for the construction.

MMC was awarded options to build two additional LCSes, the fifth and sixth LCS ships that MMC has been contracted to build under its 2010 block buy contract with the Navy. The award of LCSs 13 and 15 increases MMC’s backlog through 2016 and assures the company’s ability to maintain its current workforce of approximately 1,400 employees.

Austal USA’s contract options fund construction of the LCS 14 and LCS 16, the fifth and sixth ships in the 10-ship block buy award made to an Austal-led team in December 2010. That 10-ship program is potentially worth over $3.5 billion.

In a complex contract award program that was years in the making for construction of the littoral combat ships, Austal builds the even numbered LCSes and MMC constructs the odd numbered ships.

“We are extremely proud and humbled to build these fine ships for our nation’s warfighters,” MMC President and CEO Chuck Goddard said in a statement. “The dedication and skills of our workforce are second to none. It’s no longer a Wisconsin secret that MMC produces some of the most technologically advanced vessels in the world.”

“Austal’s production of these revolutionary ships continues to expand and improve, simultaneously delivering better program outcomes for the Navy and improved financial results for the company’s shareholders,” said Andrew Bellamy, Austal USA’s CEO.

MMC has invested $74 million in infrastructure and workforce to support the LCS contract, shipyard officials said.

Under the Navy’s block buy contract for the Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship, the LCS 5 —Milwaukee; LCS 7 — Detroit, and LCS 9 — Little Rock are currently under construction in the yard, and long-lead material is being procured for the LCS 11— Sioux City. The first two LCSs built by Marinette under previous contracts — USS Freedom and USS Fort Worth — have already been delivered to the Navy.

Austal has been contracted by the Navy to build 10 337′ JHSVs under a 10-ship, $1.6 billion contract, one of which has already been delivered, and eight 417′ Independence-variant LCS class ships (including USS Independence, delivered to the Navy in 2009), six of which are a part of a 10-ship, $3.5 billion contract. Choctaw County (JHSV 2) and Coronado (LCS 4) have both been launched and are preparing for sea trials later this spring. Construction of another three JHSVs and two LCSs is also underway.

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