Australian shipbuilder, Austal, the world's largest builder of high speed ferries, signed a joint venture agreement to establish an American shipbuilding presence - Austal USA
Following a lengthy investigation of the U.S. shipbuilding industry
, Austal's chairman, John Rothwell, made the decision to elect Bender Shipbuilding & Repair Co. of Alabama as its U.S. partner - with major equity held by Austal.
Known as a builder of aluminum vessels, Austal's product range extending from 80 ft. (24.3 m) fast ferries to large vehicle and passenger carrying vessels beyond 330 ft. (100.5 m) in length.
The full product range is scheduled for construction at the Mobile, Ala. shipyard. With Austal vying substantial growth ambitions not only to hold a significant share of the passenger ferry market with its technologically-driven vessels not available in the U.S. - the company is also exploring opportunities to supply to U.S. defense.