Austal USA, in conjunction with prime contractor, BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards Alabama, has completed a four-month drydock and shipyard availability for the Sea Fighter (FSF-1), based out of Panama City, Florida.
The Sea Fighter is an aluminum catamaran, operated by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) that has been used to test technologies for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) programs. Under a very aggressive schedule, Austal workers installed a new Counter Measure Washdown (CMWD) System to help keep future Naval combatants operational in a nuclear, biological or chemical battle-space. Other Austal work items included the modification of ballast tanks and the installation of water jet skirts on both hulls. Austal’s pipe department installed a fuel centrifuge piping system into the ship, which will allow the crew the opportunity to remove fuel contaminants. Other work items included the manufacture of aluminum ladders and work platforms for the water jets, along with repair of the aluminum hull. This work was completed on time and on budget.
Austal also provided technical support during successful sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico. The Sea Fighter (FSF 1) left Mobile, Alabama, to head for its homeport in Panama City, Florida, on the 27th of February. Austal is currently under contract with the U.S. Navy to build nine 103-meter JHSVs under a 10-ship, $1.6 billion contract and three 127-meter Independence-variant LCS class ships, two of which are a part of a 10-ship, $3.5 billion contract.
For the LCS and JHSV programs, Austal, as prime contractor, is teamed with General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics. As the ship systems integrator, General Dynamics is responsible for the design, integration and testing of the ship’s electronic systems including the combat system, networks, and seaframe control. General Dynamics’ proven open architecture approach allows for affordable and efficient capability growth as technologies develop. These two contracts will require Austal to increase its Mobile, Alabama workforce to approximately 4,000 employees in order to fulfill the contract requirements.