Austal USA has officially commenced the construction of the US Navy’s Navajo-class towing, salvage and rescue ship (T-ATS 11).

The beginning of construction of the company’s first steel ship was marked by a ceremony.

It was attended by officials including US Navy programme executive officer for ships rear admiral Thomas Anderson and US representative for Alabama first district Congressman Jerry Carl.

Austal USA New Construction vice-president Dave Growden said: “It seems like only yesterday we were breaking ground on our steel shipbuilding facility and here we are, a little over a year, beginning construction on our first steel ship.

“Our shipbuilders are excited to demonstrate how effectively their talent and our proven processes translate to steel production.”

Austal will carry out associated work at its new 170,000ft² steel production facility, housing computerised and robotic steel processing equipment. 

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According to Austal, the company will use its experience in ship manufacturing processes and innovative techniques, including modular construction, lean manufacturing principles and moving assembly lines.

The T-ATS modules will be built in this steel production facility. Once manufactured, the modules will be transported to the final assembly hall for integration.

Austal is expected to deliver the vessel T-ATS 11 by late 2024.

Last year in October, Austal received an additional contract to design and construct two Navajo-class ships T-ATS 11 and 12 for the US Navy.

The US Navy’s T-ATS vessels are being constructed to provide various capabilities to support US fleet operations, including rescue, salvage and ocean-going tug.

T-ATS will be a common hull, multi-mission platform designed to tow heavy ships.

Recently, Austal secured a detailed design and construction contract for the US Navy’s auxiliary floating dry dock medium.