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Rusty Murdaugh: Austal USA Shifts Focus to Steel Shipbuilding, Ship Repair

Rusty Murdaugh, president of Austal’s U.S. arm, said the company is transitioning to steel-based shipbuilding and developing its ship repair business as part of its strategic evolution, Breaking Defense reported Tuesday.

“The kick for us [to push for steel] was when we weren’t able to secure the frigate design. We re-evaluated where we needed to go as an organization and probably late last year or early this year is when the full commitment started to go forward to steel,” Murdaugh, who assumed his current post in mid-September, told the publication in an interview.

He said Austal USA expects its steel shipbuilding facilities and other capabilities ready by the end of March 2022 as it eyes new construction contracts for new steel vessels.

“We’ll use the month of April to go ahead and do new construction of test equipment and facilities and people, and hopefully in the next week or two, we’ll be able to announce the official award of a couple steel ships that will go down that line for the first time,” Murdaugh noted.

Austal USA received a potential $144 million contract from the U.S. Navy to build two towing, salvage and rescue ships. In June, the service awarded the company a $3.6 million contract to come up with a functional design for T-ATS ships.

The company is supporting its ship repair business with its new Austal West campus in Alabama. The new 15-acre waterfront property includes 100,000 square feet of production facilities and a certified dry dock.

Murdaugh said Austal USA is pursuing contract work on Military Sealift Command’s non-combatant ship program in addition to the Navy’s Light Amphibious Warship, Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Cutter and the Next Generation Logistics Ship programs.

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