On March 20, Austal USA launched its seventh and largest vessel
to date. Lake Express
, a 192 ft. high-speed vehicle-passenger ferry rolled out of Austal's purpose-built aluminum shipbuilding facility in Mobile, Ala., and into the Mobile River. "This project is a further step in building up capacity and capability at Austal USA which will stabilize our efforts to be a major contender in larger contracts in both the commercial and military markets," said Austal USA CEO, Greg Metcalf. With capacity for 248 passengers (COI for 400) and 46 cars, the Auto Express 58 will be capable of 34 knots. It will link the cities of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Muskegon in Michigan, crossing Lake Michigan in just over two hours, thus saving passengers a lengthy drive around the southern shore of Lake Michigan, including traffic congestion in Chicago. David Lubar of Lake Express, LLC, said, "The vessel is truly amazing. We all are awed by its size and imposing profile."