Austal has been awarded the Engineering Project of the Year for its high speed vehicle-passenger ferry Alakai at the Mobile Area Council of Engineers (MACE) annual awards banquet
held on February 22.
Austal designed and built Hawaii Superferry’s Alakai which currently operates inter-island routes in the Hawaiian Islands. Alakai is a 107-metre high-speed passenger/vehicle ferry and is the largest aluminum vessel ever built in the United States.
The ferry holds up to 866 passengers and 282 cars, or a combination of cars and large trucks, and can travel at speeds of up to 40 knots. “Alakai” was delivered to Hawaii Superferry in May 2007. The project was nominated by a member of MACE because of its superiority in engineering technology as well as the impact it has made on the Mobile area community. As a result of the contract, Austal hired hundreds of local shipbuilders and support staff who are currently building Alakai’s sister ship, the second of a two-boat contract with Hawaii Superferry
The Alakai was also the location of Austal’s Charity Cruise fundraising event held last spring which ultimately raised $150,000 for the Mobile Ronald McDonald House organisation.
MACE is an association whose members represent many of the numerous engineering organizations in Mobile and the faculty and staff of the University of South Alabama School of Engineering. Its main focus is to promote the many engineering disciplines (civil, mechanical, electrical, structural, environmental) in the Mobile community. In addition to the awards that are handed out annually, MACE sponsors an engineering scholarship fund at the University of South Alabama and financially supports Engineers Week, an annual event held at the University.
Austal was also honored on February 27 with a visit from the British Royal Navy First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Jonathan Band, and his support staff. The group received a short presentation on the Littoral Combat Ship program and then toured the LCS-2 currently being built at Austal’s Mobile shipyard. The Sea Lord himself, as well as many of his staff members, were heard commenting throughout the tour on the impressiveness of the LCS-2, which is based on Austal’s 127-metre advanced trimaran seaframe. The Austal-designed and built seaframe forms the platform for the ship’s operational and combat systems.