Austal to expand into steel ship building in USA

Perth international shipbuilder Austal appears poised to expand into building steel ships at its Mobile, Alabama yard following revelations the company has received a big loan from the US Department of Defence.

Austal currently builds two classes of aluminium multi-hulled vessels for the US Navy at Mobile, and only recently began building steel naval vessels at its Perth yard, complementing its longstanding focus on aluminium ships.

Now the company has announced a $73 million (US$ 50 million) loan in support of the US Navy Shipbuilding Industrial Base to expand into manufacturing steel hulled ships.

The government expects this to be matched by Austal, implying the company plans to invest $146 million in the Mobile yard and compete for future US Navy orders for both steel and aluminium hulled vessels.

Under the terms of the loan this investment will take place over the next 24 months and expand America’s ‘critical domestic shipbuilding and maintenance capacity.’

Austal has expanded globally on the back of its excellence in aluminium, multi-hulled vessel design and construction, building some of the world’s largest passenger and vehicle ferries.

However the company makes the bulk of its profits from its US defence interests, with an investment in steel underpinning bids for future work.

The company also owns shipyards in the Philippines and Vietnam.

Picture: Austal/Independence class littoral combat ship (LCS)

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