Austal USA has won a $2m (approximately A$2.8m) preliminary design contract for the US Navy’s Next Generation Logistics Ship (NGLS) programme.

The company will build a new baseline design and conduct ‘specific’ trade studies for the NGLS.

The programme constitutes a new class of medium-sized, at-sea supply ships aimed at supporting small surface combatants.

The mission of the NGLS fleet will include providing re-fuelling, re-arming, and resupply services for littoral combat ships (LCS) and frigates, and the US Navy’s proposed light amphibious warships (LAW).

Austal CEO Paddy Gregg said that the contract contributes to the company’s expansion into design and construction of steel naval ships.

Gregg said: “Adding to the concept design work Austal is already undertaking for the US Navy’s Light Amphibious Warship (LAW) programme and the recent construction contract for up to five Towing, Salvage and Rescue (T-ATS) ships, this contract further demonstrates Austal USA’s capabilities and commitment to steel naval ship design and construction.”

Austal has gained extensive expertise by successfully delivering major naval vessel contracts. This experience will be leveraged to provide the US Navy with a highly capable and a lower cost NGLS design.

The company has completed the US Navy’s Independence-class LCS and Spearhead-class Expeditionary Fast Transport programmes on time and on budget.

Last month, Austal USA said it will assume the lease of the ship repair site of Marine Group Boat Works (MGBW) after the companies signed an agreement.