Austal USA held a combined groundbreaking ceremony today, to celebrate the start of work on three new facilities including Phase 2 of the Modular Manufacturing Facility (MMF); a new office complex; and an additional waterfront Assembly Bay.
The ceremony was held at Austal USA’s shipyard in Mobile, Alabama, where construction is underway on the U.S. Navy’s Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program and the Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) program.
This event was attended by several notable dignitaries, including Alabama Governor Robert Bentley; Rear Admiral Joseph F. Campbell (Deputy Commander, Logistics, Maintenance and Industrial Operations, Naval Sea Systems Command); Mobile County Commission President Merceria Ludgood; Mobile County Commissioner Connie Hudson; Mobile City Council President Reggie Copeland; City Council Vice President Fred Richardson and Councilmen John Williams and Jermaine Burrell; Austal USA President and Chief Operating Officer Joe Rella; Stephen Gray, President and Chief Executive Officer of Gray Construction, and Henry Seawell, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Thompson Holdings, (the companies that are contracted for the design and build of the new facilities); and representatives from Senators Sessions and Shelby and Congressman Bonner’s office.
At the ground breaking ceremony, Governor Bentley commented: “Thanks to Austal USA, hope and opportunity have been brought to those living along the Alabama Gulf Coast. Employment at Austal USA has increased from 113 employees in May 2004 to an employment level in excess of 2,000 today.”
“As we enter into the second major expansion at Austal, employment will increase to 3,600 employees. These are good paying jobs that allow our citizens to partner with Austal to produce the best ships for the U.S. Navy.”
When asked about the impact these new investments would have on Austal’s shipbuilding capability and the local economy, Joe Rella commented, “This new expansion fulfills the commitment Austal made during the LCS competition, and will enable Austal to hire the expanded workforce to meet the delivery requirements for both the JHSV and LCS programs. The contribution to the local economy from our jobs and procurement activity will cascade into many business sectors located on the Gulf Coast.”
Located on Dunlap Drive, in Mobile, Alabama, the Phase 2 MMF project will double the existing manufacturing floor space to 700,000 sq. ft and add 30,000 sq. ft. of office space. When complete, the state-of-the-art facility will be capable of constructing six large aluminum vessels such as the Navy’s LCS and/or JHSV per year.
The new three-story office complex will be placed just north of the MMF and will encompass over 108,000 sq. ft. of office space to include a reconfigurable multi-purpose room capable of seating 400 people auditorium-style. It will house 450 employees and will be five times the size of the existing two-story office building on Dunlap Drive.
Assembly Bay 5 will be constructed south of the mid yard breakroom adjacent to Assembly Bay 4 where Coronado (LCS 4) is currently being constructed. It will have 59,000 sq. ft. of floor space, 425 feet long by 135 feet wide and will be similar to that of the existing Assembly Bays 3 and 4, with the ability to join with the future expansion of Assembly Bay 6.
Gray Construction, located in Birmingham, is constructing the second half of the MMF and the office complex. Thompson Engineering is designing and constructing Assembly Bay 5. Local subcontractors being used are SJ&L, Rowe Surveying and Engineering, Southern Earth Sciences, Jordan Pile Driving, Robert J. Baggett, Persons Service Company, A&B Electric, KMC, National Pump and Compressor, Gorham HVAC, Kittrell Acoustics, Warehouse Equipment/Supply, and Team Steel Placement