Perth-based shipbuilder, Austal (ASX: ASB) has received two further orders from the US Navy for Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) of the Independence class, bringing to 18 the number of these giant ships delivered or on order.
Nine ships of the LCS class, to be redesignated by the USN as ‘fast frigates’ from the start of 2019, have already been delivered with a further 10 under construction or awaiting construction, Austal said in a statement.
The USN does not reveal contract prices, but the latest vessels come in below the Congressional cap placed on the LCS of US$584 million (Aud$814 million) each.
Austal CEO, David Singleton said: “This latest order from the US Navy is a tremendous endorsement of Austal’s unique aluminium trimaran and further evidence of the important role Austal plays in building the United States Navy.
“The award of LCS 36 and 38 will mean that Austal has a forward order book of a further ten ships to
deliver in a continuous production program that now extends out to 2025.”
Austal builds the LCS class, and a second catamaran class of vessel, at its Alabama shipyard using Australian content in the form of intellectual property, design and engineering, and components and sub-systems.
Based on an Austal aluminium ferry design, the LCS ships are 127.4 metres long multi-role vessels capable of speeds of up to 50 knots.
Equipped with a large flight deck and hanger, the LCS can be equipped with various ‘modules’ to change their task, and have been steadily upgraded with extra firepower such as the Harpoon anti-ship missile and extra armour.
The hull is one of a number of proven designs being further developed under US contract in a competition to choose a future frigate for the Navy.
Meanwhile in Australia, the Defence Export Facility, has made available a loan facility, of up to $80 million, to support the acquisition of two Cape Class Patrol Boats by Trinidad & Tobago.
The boats will be constructed at Austal’s yard at Henderson in Western Australia.
Picture: Ausdtal/LCS Independence class.
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