Austral to Add to the U.S. Submarine Industrial Base

By Justin Katz

Austal USA, the Mobile, Ala.-based shipyard best known for its aluminum-hulled littoral combat ships, has begun producing two modules destined for Virginia- and Columbia-class submarines, another opportunity largely enabled by its investment in a steel production line.

“It really is an issue of this submarine industrial base having a significant capacity issue,” Larry Ryder, vice president of business development at Austal, told Breaking Defense last week during the Surface Navy Association’s annual symposium.

Ryder was alluding to the US Navy’s goal of consistently producing two Virginia- and one Columbia-class submarines each year for the foreseeable future until both production lines are complete.

To do that, the Navy is relying on the country’s two major submarine builders — HII and General Dynamics Electric Boat — but capacity limitations are always a concern.

“We have an industrial capacity that’s limited. In other words, we can only get so many ships off the production line a year,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday said at a Heritage Foundation event in August.

Electric Boat is a prime contractor for both submarine classes and sub-contracted work on the modules to Austal.

HII works with GDEB on both program

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Featured Photo: Austal’s shipyard in Mobile, Alabama. (Photo courtesy of Austal USA)