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Austal Begins Steel Shipbuilding

MOBILE, Ala. — Austal USA unveiled its new steel shipbuilding line in Mobile on April 12, Business Alabama reported. The $100-million facility, half of which was paid for in federal support, will allow Austal to build both aluminum and steel ships. Austal has already received a $144-million contract to design and build towing, salvage and rescue ships, Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson said. The plant features automation, robotics and high-tech elements that will allow the company to perform data analytics on its processes and help improve each step. Steel, which is to be purchased first from Mobile-based SSAB Americas, enters the plant in 1-in. or smaller slabs, is automatically welded into place and exits the line in 150-200-mT units. Equipment for the 117,000-ft2 plant arrived on time from the Netherlands, Germany and Italy. Like Austal’s aluminum ship line next door, the steel line will be based on modular manufacturing techniques, which Austal USA President Rusty Murdaugh calls “the key to success.” Gray Construction of Lexington, Kentucky, built the new facility.

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