16 septembre 2020 | International, Naval

Austal Expanding Yard In Alabama as It Eyes New Unmanned, Amphibious Shipbuilding Programs

Austal USA is expanding the capacity and capability of its Alabama shipyard, doubling down on investing in its future in a way reminiscent of 2009, just before it won the block buy of Littoral Combat Ships that secured the yard a spot in the U.S. shipbuilding industrial base.

The Mobile yard this month closed on the purchase of a ship repair facility formerly owned by World Marine of Alabama, an indirect subsidiary of Modern American Recycling and Repair Services of Alabama. It includes a 20,000-ton Panamax-class floating dry dock, 100,000 square feet of covered repair facilities and 15 acres of waterfront property along the Mobile River and Gulf of Mexico, according to a company statement.

Shipyard President Craig Perciavalle told USNI News this week that the expansion fits in with its desires to continue building aluminum ships and to expand into building steel ships – manned or unmanned – as well as a desire to take on more repair work for the Navy and other customers.

“We feel we’re putting ourselves, and we’ve put ourselves, in a very good place to continue to provide very capable but lower-cost ships to the Navy,” he said of the yard that today builds Independence-variant LCSs and Expeditionary Fast Transit (EPF) ships.
“I have had some discussions with [Defense Secretary Mark] Esper, we are encouraged by the plan for, the need and the requirement for 355 ships or more maybe. And I think there’s plenty of opportunities for us to help the Navy grow the fleet, and we’re putting ourselves in a very good position to help the Navy do that long-term.”

The yard expansion gives Austal ownership of a dry dock it was leasing to launch its ships into the Mobile River, eliminating any schedule problems the yard had to worry about in the past if its desired timeline didn’t match up with the dry dock’s availability to be leased.

“We’ll just have complete control over it, and then we can have the priority for the dry dock be supporting our business, first and foremost,” Perciavalle said.

He added that the rest of the facility, on the other side of the river and just south of Austal’s property, could be refurbished or upgraded in the future to support ship construction or repair activities as needed, giving Austal some flexibility as its future workload becomes clearer.

Many in the Navy and industry have expressed concern about Austal’s future, with the company’s LCS construction coming to an end in a couple years – four ships are in construction at Austal and four more are in pre-construction – and its future with the EPF program still uncertain, as the Navy and Congress haven’t made any firm decisions about continuing the hot production line to build an ambulance ship variant of the hull. Austal competed to build the Navy’s FFG(X) frigate program and lost, leaving many wondering what would happen to the yard, its workforce and its suppliers.

Perciavalle said he’s not worried about the yard’s future.

“It’s no secret that we’re focused on the unmanned side of the business, we think there’s obviously plenty of opportunities there and we’re going to, hopefully – our plan is to be a major player in that side of the market,” he said. Austal is one of six companies selected to conduct industry studies on the Navy’s Large Unmanned Surface Vessel, and Austal also participated in the LUSV precursor by converting a vessel to an unmanned ship through the Pentagon’s Overlord USV prototype effort.

“We are encouraged by discussions around additional EPFs going forward. EPF-15 has been in and out of the budget, and the latest discussions show that there might be some opportunities for that to get back in. I think it’s no secret that we’ve been looking at expeditionary medical ships that have been discussed, and we feel we’re in a pretty good place to support those needs to the Navy,” he continued, with the Congress this current fiscal year appropriating money to give EPF-14 a greater medical capability.

“And then from a steel shipbuilding perspective, there’s certainly opportunities from that medium-sized type vessel: [Light Amphibious Warship] is one that we’ve been participating in. We have participated in some of the industry studies on [the Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Cutter]. And without getting into much more detail beyond that, there’s opportunities that exist across the board that we’re going to continue to look at and to pursue. “

Asked by USNI News if the range of work – from unmanned vessels to amphibious ships to Military Sealift Command support ships to Coast Guard cutters – spurred Austal to take a leap of faith and expand the shipyard now, Perciavalle said, “this is something that Austal’s done in the past, so been there done that. We leaned into the facility that we have today, committing much of those funds before (LCS) block buys were even awarded back in the ‘09 and 2010 time period. We have seen where the Navy looks like they’re going, and we’re leaning into those requirements going forward. There seems to be opportunities both on the steel ship side of things as well as aluminum, and we’re going to leverage our strength and what we’ve been able to do from an aluminum perspective, and take those same strengths and transition adding the steel capabilities.”

“So yeah, it’s pretty interesting times, it’s pretty exciting. We’ve proven in the past that we’re pretty darn good at building lots of ships in a relatively short period of time. I think we’ve delivered 23 surface ships to the Navy over the last just over seven and a half years,” he continued.
“We believe there’s value in that for the Navy and trying to expand to 355 in a reasonable timeframe, and I think leveraging the industrial base that we have here in Mobile is going to be important to the Navy’s ability to do that.”

In addition to the physical expansion of the yard through the recent acquisition, Austal and the Defense Department are spending $100 million to bring a steel shipbuilding capability to the yard that today only builds aluminum ships. DoD offered its half under the Defense Production Act Title III (DPA) Agreement “to maintain, protect, and expand critical domestic shipbuilding and maintenance capacity,” according to a DoD announcement. The money, appropriated as part of the coronavirus pandemic relief bill passed by Congress in the spring, will not only help the Navy industrial base but will “accelerat[e] pandemic recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast region” by supporting the economy.

Perciavalle said the yard decided to match the contract with its own $50 million investment in the steel shipbuilding capability.

Perciavalle said another growth area for Austal is likely to be ship repair, though the Navy has not made its intentions public yet.

Austal is somewhat challenged in that every single LCS it has built is stationed in San Diego, which is a Panama Canal transit away. The San Diego ship repair industrial base is under pressure to keep up with the Navy’s growing surface ship maintenance and modernization needs, and although Austal has a support office in San Diego and can contribute to pier-side work at the naval base, it cannot take on maintenance availabilities on its own yet.

“The Navy’s aware of our interest in expanding our service business, and I think given the fact that they’re looking for increased capacity in that regard, I think it’s welcome,” he said.
“And then we’ll just see how things go both here in Mobile, obviously continuing to support efforts on the West Coast, and then in Singapore,” where Austal has an office to support forward-deployed LCSs operating in the Indo-Pacific region.

USNI News previously reported that Austal was trying to conduct some LCS work in Mobile after sea trials and ship delivery, but before the ships headed through the canal and onto San Diego. Perciavalle said that has continued, but that the ships are coming out of the yard with very little work waiting to be done during the post-shakedown availability. He said he hopes the Navy and the yard can find a way to bring more repair work to Mobile, to ease the strain in San Diego and to fully leverage the dry dock the yard now owns.

Additionally, while his focus is maintaining the ships that Austal built, Perciavalle said “the sky is the limit” in terms of the yard taking on repair and modernization work for Military Sealift Command ships, Coast Guard ships or commercial vessels.

“The facility has been in the past supporting various markets and will continue to do that going forward,” he said of the newly purchased property that also includes deep-water berthing space for in-water repairs in addition to the dry dock for out-of-water repairs.

He noted that the team operating out of Singapore had contributed to the success of overlapping USS Montgomery (LCS-8) and USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) deployments there and that Austal planned to maintain or grow its presence in Singapore.

“Our game plan is there will be at least two ships there going forward, we are fully prepared to support having two ships in Singapore or more,” as well as sending flyaway teams or setting up offices anywhere else the Navy chooses to hub the LCSs or EPFs around the globe.

https://news.usni.org/2020/09/15/austal-expanding-yard-in-alabama-as-it-eyes-new-unmanned-amphibious-shipbuilding-programs

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    ARMY Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Grand Prairie, Texas, was awarded a $226,254,087 modification (P00006) to contract W31P4Q-19-C-0077 for a 44 M270A2 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems. Work will be performed in Grand Prairie, Texas; New Boston, Texas; and Camden, Arkansas, with an estimated completion date of Aug. 30, 2023. Fiscal 2020 missile procurement (Army) funds in the amount of $226,254,087 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity. Oshkosh Defense LLC, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, was awarded a $127,718,247 modification (P00355) to contract W56HZV-15-C-0095 to exercise available options to support the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. Work will be performed in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, with an estimated completion date of Jan. 31, 2022. 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MC Dean Inc., Tysons, Virginia, was awarded a $25,874,603 firm-fixed-price contract for a design-bid-build construction project at Buckley Air Force Base. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. Work will be performed in Aurora, Colorado, with an estimated completion date of Aug. 22, 2022. Fiscal 2018 and 2019 other procurement (Army) funds in the amount of $25,874,603 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore, Maryland, is the contracting activity (W912DR-20-C-0028). Peckham Vocational Industries Inc., Lansing, Michigan, was awarded a $23,358,026 modification (P00010) to contract W56HZV-17-C-0187 for services to support the Organizational Clothing and Individual Equipment (OCIE) effort for the repair, cleaning, warehousing and distribution of the OCIE Northeast Region. Work will be performed in Lansing, Michigan, with an estimated completion date of June 30, 2021. 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Vectrus Mission Solutions Corp., Alexandria, Virginia, was awarded a $13,266,231 modification (000182) to contract W52P1J-13-G-0027 for contractor logistics support services for the 82nd Airborne Division. Work will be performed in Fayetteville, North Carolina, with an estimated completion date of June 30, 2021. Fiscal 2020 operations and maintenance (Army) funds in the amount of $1,105,520 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, is the contracting activity. HHI Corp.,* Ogden, Utah, was awarded a $10,898,457 firm-fixed-price contract for construction of a company operations facility at Butts Army Airfield. Bids were solicited via the internet with six received. Work will be performed in Fort Carson, Colorado, with an estimated completion date of Dec. 5, 2021. Fiscal 2020 military construction (Army) funds in the amount of $10,898,457 were obligated at the time of the award. 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This contract was competitively procured under N00014-19-S-B001, “Long Range Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for Navy and Marine Corps Science & Technology.” Since proposals are received throughout the year under the Long Range BAA, the number of proposals received in response to the solicitation is unknown. The Office of Naval Research, Arlington, Virginia, is the contracting activity (N00014-20-C-1071). Lockheed Martin Corp., Fort Worth, Texas, is awarded a $9,825,609 modification (P00039) to previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract N00019-17-C-0001. This modification exercises an option to perform Chase aircraft maintenance for Lot 12 F-35 Lighting II aircraft for the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and non-Department of Defense (DOD) participants. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed by December 2020. Fiscal 2018 aircraft procurement (Air Force) funds in the amount of $4,168,441; fiscal 2018 aircraft procurement (Navy) funds in the amount of $2,530,838; and non-DOD participant funds in the amount of $3,126,330 will be obligated at time of award, $6,699,279 of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity. DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY I-Solutions Direct Inc., doing business as I-Solutions Group, Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, has been awarded a maximum $34,000,000 firm-fixed-price contract for commercial metal products. This was a sole-source acquisition using justification 10 U.S .Code 2304 (c)(1), as stated in Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-1. This is an 18-month bridge contract with no option periods. Locations of performance are Pennsylvania; Arizona; California; Idaho; Montana; Nevada; Oregon; Utah; Washington; and Wyoming, with a Dec. 8, 2021, performance completion date. Using military services are Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2020 through 2022 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (SPE8E5-20-D-0007). The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Missouri, has been awarded a maximum $28,147,925 firm-fixed-price delivery order (SPRPA1-20-F-0011) against a three-year basic ordering agreement (SPRPA1-17-D-003U) for follow-on consumable performance based support for the P-8A program. This was a sole-source acquisition using justification 10 U.S. Code 2304 (c)(1), as stated in Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-1. This is a three-year contract with no option periods. Locations of performance are Missouri; Texas; and Washington, with a June 30, 2023, performance completion date. Using military service is Navy. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2020 through 2023 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Aviation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. SRCTec LLC, Syracuse, New York, has been awarded a maximum $17,986,641 hybrid firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract under solicitation SPRBL1-20-R-0006 for the procurement and repair of the radar system and cylinder supporting the AN/TPQ-50 Counterfire Target Acquisition Radar System. This was a sole-source acquisition using justification 10 U.S. Code 2304 (c)(1), as stated in Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-1. This is a five-year base contract with one five-year option period. Location of performance is New York, with a June 29, 2025, ordering period end date. Using customer is the Defense Department. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2020 through 2025 Army working capital funds and other procurement funds as necessary. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland (SPRBL1-20-D-0047). Technical Sales Equipment LLC, Cincinnati, Ohio, has been awarded a maximum $10,557,718 firm-fixed-price contract for computer numerically controlled, horizontal and vertical turning center milling machines. This was a sole-source acquisition using justification 10 U.S. Code 2304 (c)(1), as stated in Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-1. This is a one-year contract with one 13-month option period. Locations of performance are Ohio and Georgia, with a July 26, 2021, ordering period end date. Using military service is Air Force. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2020 through 2021 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Aviation, Richmond, Virginia (SPE4A8-20-C-0006). L-3 Technologies Inc., Salt Lake City, Utah, has been awarded a maximum $8,232,575 firm-fixed-price delivery order (SPRPA1-20-F-CL0N) against a five-year basic ordering agreement (SPRPA1-20-G-CL01) for antenna assemblies in support of the Triton weapon platform. This was a sole-source acquisition using justification 10 U.S. Code 2304 (c)(1), as stated in Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-1. This is a two-year ten-month contract with no option periods. Location of performance is Utah, with an April 30, 2023, performance completion date. Using military customer is Navy. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2020 Navy working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Aviation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. SAE Inc., Logan, Utah, has been awarded a maximum $7,674,928 firm-fixed-price contract for automatic robotic wing measurement and de-fastener systems. This was a sole-source acquisition using justification 10 U.S. Code 2304 (c)(1), as stated in Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-1. This is a two-year contract with no option periods. Location of performance is Utah, with a Feb. 15, 2022, performance completion date. Using military service is Air Force. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2020 through 2022 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Aviation, Richmond, Virginia (SPE4A8-20-C-0008). *Small Business https://www.defense.gov/Newsroom/Contracts/Contract/Article/2243147/source/GovDelivery/

  • Air Force aims to move startups from pitch to contract award in 24 hours

    17 septembre 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    Air Force aims to move startups from pitch to contract award in 24 hours

    By: Valerie Insinna WASHINGTON — A fledgling five-person software start-up has just wrapped up their pitch to what could be a key investor. The pressure has been intense, but the customer decides to bite, sliding a credit card through a Square reader to award money to the company’s Paypal account. This isn’t an episode of Shark Tank, or a successful bid to get investment dollars from a Silicon Valley angel investor. The customer in this scenario is the Air Force — or at least, its acquisition executive would like it to be. During the Air Force Association’s annual conference, Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, will announce a series of “Startup Days” targeted toward involving startup companies in Air Force acquisition by rapidly awarding contracts in less than 24 hours. “From the company’s view, it will be a single day. From our view, we could probably turn it as quickly as a few days to a week — we put a call out, someone submits their idea, we analyze their idea, we check their company profile, we then invite a subset that have met the criteria,” he told Defense News in an exclusive Sept. 7 interview. “But then, when they come in to pitch their idea, they have a reasonable expectation of leaving with funding. We’re ready to go or not go on a single day,” he continued. “And the contract length? One page.” When Defense News spoke with Roper, he had just gotten the green light to move ahead with this new way of awarding contracts. The effort remains in its early stages, and dates for Startup Day have not been chosen, although Roper believes the service could hold a series of Startup Days as soon as the end of this year or early 2019. The exact format is still being worked out as well: Program managers will be able to suggest precise technical problems that they’d like to see solutions for, but he’d also like to give companies the latitude to pitch their products for requirements the Air Force doesn’t even know it has. Companies will submit proposals, which will be evaluated by Air Force program and contacting officials who will also analyze the company’s profile — its number of employees, business type, product maturity and potential impact. But the goal is to have the actual events structured like a meeting with an angel investor, not the typical PowerPoint-laden gatherings of military officials and defense primes. “We’ve got to make this look more like Kickstarter than a defense industry day,” Roper said. “We may even put them on contract swiping a Square reader. We have government purchase cards that we’re able to use for small purchases — up to $150k per transaction. That may be the mechanism we use because most companies that are startups, I’m going to guess, have a Paypal account.” An industry day geared specifically for start-up companies is just the latest way the Air Force is trying to harness a commercial technology boom where innovation has often been led by startups. Last year, the service announced the creation of a new organization called AFWERX that it began to help engage elements of the private sector that don’t usually work with the government. However, even with AFWERX in operation, it takes the Air Force six to eight weeks to award a contract at its very fastest. And that’s still too slow of a pace to enable it to work effectively with startup companies, Roper said. “There’s this artificial ceiling that small companies can’t reach to work with the government simply because they’re too small to wait for a paycheck. If they’re not on contract with us now, they’ve got to work with an investor fast enough to fund cash flow rates that startups need to grow,” he said. Roper doesn’t expect all investments to bear fruit, but efforts like Startup Day have other advantages, he said. It gets Air Force contracting officers more comfortable with executing rapid contracts, potentially gives program managers a more effective way of spending their small business dollars and allows the service to have a voice in the kinds of technologies that cutting-edge companies develop. “I hope that will mean that every year when we do this — if it’s successful, we’ll do it every year—companies will have us on their radar screen and think, ‘The Air Force is a great way for us to get from being a company of five to a company of 50...and then we’ll go off and become billionaires working with Amazon and Google,’” he said. “But this way they’ll know us and their products and projects will have been influenced by us, hopefully for the betterment of the Air Force.” https://www.defensenews.com/digital-show-dailies/air-force-association/2018/09/17/air-force-aims-to-move-startups-from-pitch-to-contract-award-in-24-hours

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