Austal USA resumes operations in Alabama

MOBILE, Ala. – Operations have resumed at Austal USA’s construction facility in Mobile, Ala., in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and almost all of the company’s staff have returned to work at the plant, Austal reported in a release yesterday

The company said the damage incurred to its existing manufacturing facility, which was designed to withstand the elements of a Category 4 hurricane, was minor. The storm surge came over the construction floor, which is designed to flood, by about two feet.

However, power was not restored to the facility for some days after the hurricane, and Austal said several employees and their families incurred damage to their homes and personal property. As a result, it was decided that the facility would remain closed until Sept. 6. Full operations resumed at that time and, by Sept. 7, 95 percent of staff had returned to work on a full-time basis.

When Hurricane Katrina struck, Austal USA said it was approximately two months from completion of its northern expansion, which will accommodate a total workforce of up to 700 personnel, almost double Austal’s current U.S. workforce. The new construction facility, in which Austal plans to build the U.S. Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship, sustained minor wind damage and the building contractor had to operate with a reduced crew until Sept. 7.

The new facility consists of two large bays or 16,480 total square-meters under a common roof for module fabrication/erection and component storage, surrounded by two mezzanine levels for shop space, material storage, and small assembly fabrication; two additional launch aprons in front of each bay; a combined wharf (bulkhead) length of 238 meters; and additional overhead cranes capable of lifting 80-tonne modules in each bay.

The other portion of the expansion is a two-story, 1,951 square-meter administration building which will be completed around Christmas.

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