On the evening of September 2, 2009, Austal’s US operation in Mobile, Ala., honored the first graduates of its four-year apprenticeship program. The graduates honored at this banquet received their certificates of completion and designation as Department of Labor Class A Journeymen. Austal USA’s President and Chief Operating Officer, Joseph J. Rella, was the key speaker at the celebration. Rella stated, “the apprentice training does more than ensure skill sets that far exceed industry standards, the program cultivates our future leaders in the organization. It is essential for a shipyard to continually develop its new entrants into the workforce. This program ensures the continuity of excellence for Austal’s future.”
The program is certified by the US Department of Labor, Ala. Department of Post Secondary Education, and the Veteran's Administration and governed by the Department of Labor Standards of Apprenticeship for the respective trades of Pipefitter, Marine Electrician, Aluminum Assembler, and Shipfitter. The Alabama Department of Post Secondary Education has approved our four trade programs for the Veteran's Administration which means that all eligible veterans may now apply for and receive GI Bill benefits that were earned for military service. The Department of Labor requires that each candidate complete a minimum of 576 hours of classroom time and an additional 8,000 hours of on-the-job-learning over the four-year period. Classes convene every six months.
Austal is currently under contract with the US Navy, as a part of the General Dynamics team, to build a second Littoral Combat Ship Coronado (LCS 4). Independence (LCS 2) is undergoing builder’s trials and is scheduled for handover to the Navy in the fall.
Design work for the Joint High Speed Vessel contract with the US Navy and Army is underway for construction to start on the vessel in November. This will be the first Austal USA vessel to be constructed in modular fashion in the new Module Manufacturing Facility (MMF).
Phase I of the MMF project is complete and includes: 396,000 square feet (8.5 acres) of manufacturing and office space, a 73,500-square-foot (1.6-acre) warehouse, and 2,064 paved parking spaces. Phase II will start as soon as production space is required and, when complete, will double the size of the existing MMF.
Austal will begin hiring again in the fall, and is partnering with Ala. Industrial Development & Training (AIDT) who will offer training to qualified candidates to assist in meeting Austal’s needs for qualified aluminum welders and shipfitters.