Austal USA celebrated the start of construction on the company’s first steel ship today – a U.S. Navy Navajo Class Towing, Salvage, and Rescue Ship (T-ATS 11). The milestone was observed during a ceremony at which Congressman Jerry Carl, U.S. representative for Alabama’s first district, and Rear Admiral Thomas J. Anderson, U.S. Navy’s program executive officer for ships spoke alongside Austal USA Vice President of New Construction, Dave Growden. Congressman Jerry Carl and Rear Adm. Tom Anderson both remarked on the importance of Austal USA’s emergence in the steel market and spoke to the quality of Austal USA built ships.
“It seems like only yesterday we were breaking ground on our steel shipbuilding facility and here we are, a little over a year later, beginning construction on our first steel ship. Our shipbuilders are excited to demonstrate how effectively their talent and our proven processes translate to steel production,” Dave Growden said.
“Congratulations to Austal USA for starting construction on the company’s first steel ship! This announcement is great news for Austal USA, south Alabama, and the defense interests of the United States. Thanks to our top-notch workforce and strong shipbuilding track record along the Gulf Coast, Austal USA is now providing world-class steel ships for the U.S. Navy,” said Rep. Jerry Carl.
The Navajo-class provides ocean-going tug, salvage, and rescue capabilities to support fleet operations. T-ATS replaces and fulfills the capabilities that were previously provided by the Fleet Ocean Tug (T-ATF 166) and Rescue and Salvage Ships (T-ARS 50) class ships. The Navajo class is a class of Towing, Salvage and Rescue Ships of the United States Navy. They were ordered in 2017 as the planned replacement for the aging Safeguard-class rescue and salvage ships and Powhatan-class tugboats. In October 2021, Austal had been awarded a $145 million contact to build of two Towing, Salvage, and Rescue ships (T-ATS 11 and 12), and options for up to three additional T-ATS ships.
Austal’s new 170,000 square foot enclosed steel production facility houses state-of-the-art computerized and robotic steel processing equipment. The new facility will operate using Austal’s proven ship manufacturing processes and innovative methods that incorporate lean manufacturing principles, modular construction, and moving assembly lines. Modules for T-ATS will be built in the new steel production facility before being transported to the final assembly hall to be erected. T-ATS will provide ocean-going tug, salvage, and rescue capabilities to support U.S. fleet operations and will be a multi mission common hull platform capable of towing heavy ships. Delivery of T-ATS 11 is planned for late 2024.