Shipbuilder Austal USA has broken ground on a new steel manufacturing facility in Mobile, Alabama.

Marking the start of construction of the new facility, Austal USA hosted a ceremony at the company’s shipyard on 26 March.

Last June, Austal announced its plans to spend around $100m building a steel shipbuilding capability co-funded by the US Government.

The new building will provide additional capability alongside the company’s existing aluminium construction operations at Mobile.

The new steel shipbuilding facility will help the company to fulfil the increasing demand for steel vessels by the US Navy and US Coast Guard.

Austal CEO Paddy Gregg said: “Austal USA’s new steel shipbuilding facility puts us in a prime position to target numerous major steel shipbuilding programmes included in the US Navy’s shipbuilding plan.

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“Today’s ground-breaking marks the start of construction of facilities that will enable Austal USA to build the next generation of the US Navy and US Coast Guards’ ships.”

Construction of the facility is expected to be completed by April next year.

In the past nine years, Austal USA has delivered 24 ships to the US Navy, including the Independence-class littoral combat ship (LCS) and Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport (T-EPF).

Speaking at the ceremony, Interim Austal USA president Rusty Murdaugh said: “As demand for the greater and larger navy and Coast Guard fleets grows, Austal USA is investing to meet those changing requirements.

“We’re investing in our people, we’re investing in our processes, and we’re investing in our facilities and capabilities.”

Last month, Austal USA secured a contract from the US Navy to carry out the detailed design and construction of new Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) vessel.