Austal USA was recently awarded a contract modification by the United States Navy to build two additional Independence-variant littoral combat ships (LCS), its 16th and 17th ships in the class. The specific value of each contract is under the congressional cost cap of $584 million per ship, according to a news release.

“To be awarded these contracts in such a highly competitive environment is a great honor,” Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle said. “This is a testament to the hard work and commitment of our employees and supplier network, and further evidence of the important role Austal plays in building the Navy’s 355-ship fleet.”

To date, Austal has delivered on scheduled work for the three LCS delivered to the Navy this year, all under the congressional cost cap. The LCS has been identified as a key component of the Navy’s ability to gain sea control through distributed lethality. This, along with the expeditionary fast transport (EPF) program, has well positioned one of Mobile’s larger local employers to help achieve the Navy’s desired fleet build-out goal of 355 ships, set under the current administration.

“This team effort highlights the value and importance of the American industrial base, and these awards will keep Austal busy building ships into 2023,” Perciavalle said. Construction of LCS 32 is scheduled to begin in 2019.

Austal delivered the future USS Charleston (LCS 18) to the Navy last month and is scheduled to deliver the USNS Burlington (EPF 10) before the end of the year. Work on eight LCS and nine EPFs has already been completed for the Navy.

“It’s exciting to hear the positive feedback from the fleet commanders on how well our ships match their mission requirements as they operate globally,” Perciavalle said. “We will continue to build these ships in a safely and timely manner with the quality and craftsmanship that Austal has come to be known for.”

Headquartered in Mobile and with facilities in San Diego, Singapore and Washington, D.C., Austal USA is an advanced ship manufacturer, servicer and sustainment provider. The company employs approximately 4,000 people and designs and constructs two ship programs for the U.S. Navy — Independence-variant LCS (even-numbered hulls) and EPFs.

The company’s supplier network includes more than 1,196 companies across 44 states supporting more than 34,000 U.S. jobs. Austal USA entered the defense market in 2004 and is currently the fifth largest shipbuilder in North America.

Austal christens Kansas City LCS 22

Austal recently hosted ship sponsor Tracy Davidson for the christening of the Kansas City (LCS 22) at its Mobile shipyard last Saturday, Sep. 22.

Davidson is an active Navy spouse who has volunteered with family readiness groups, been an ombudsman, served on support group boards and mentored the Command Leadership Class. Her recent positions include adviser to the Tidewater Officer Spouses Association, Tidewater Collection, Surface Officers Spouses and Continuum of Resource Education, four military support organizations in Norfolk, Virginia.

The Kansas City (LCS 22) is the 11th of 15 LCS vessels Austal has under contract with the U.S. Navy. The total order value is over $4.5 billion. LCS 22 is the third U.S. Navy vessel to be named after Kansas City.

MOD Pizza opening at Pinebrook

Seattle-based MOD Pizza recently announced the opening of a new 3,800-square-foot eatery adjacent to Zoës Kitchen at the 50-year-old Pinebrook Shopping Center at 3964 Airport Blvd. in Mobile.

“We will be hiring 60 people and we look forward to supporting the local economy,” Patrick Cline, chief of operations, said. “To date, at 3,800 square feet this is the largest MOD we have built and it will be the flagship store in our Alabama market.”

A grand opening for the new fast-casual eatery is set for Oct. 8. It will be the second location in Alabama, with an eatery already established in Madison.

The company was founded in 2008 by entrepreneurial husband-and-wife team Scott and Ally Svenson. The duo has prior experience from building two successful concepts. In 1995, they launched Seattle Coffee Co. in London, growing the brand to 65 company-owned stores before it was acquired by Starbucks in 1998, after which Scott Svenson assumed the role of president, Starbucks Europe. In 1999, the Svensons cofounded Carluccio’s, an award-winning Italian deli-café concept that went public in the United Kingdom in 2005.

Expansion for MOD Pizza into multiple locations began in 2014. To date, the chain has more than 345 locations in 28 states, as well as five sites in the U.K.

According to a news release, the franchise pays a competitive market wage and builds partnerships focused on supporting at-risk youth and families in each of its markets. MOD also offers health, dental and vision benefits, short-term disability, sick pay and opportunities for career growth.

Brittany Youngblood with Youngblood Real Estate managed the transaction for MOD Pizza. More information about the company can be found at

Commercial real estate moves

• Local investors recently purchased a 1.5-acre industrial facility located at 7625 Dauphin Island Parkway for $650,000. The property contains some 400 feet of steel bulkhead fronting the Theodore Industrial Canal, according to Pete Riehm of NAI Mobile, who brokered the transaction. The property, along with its 14,900-square-foot open warehouse, is now available for lease. Contact NAI Mobile for more details.

• OsteoStrong has leased 1,100 square feet of office space in the Blue Bird Property. OsteoStrong is a process that works for people at all ages and levels of activity to promote skeletal strength, which impacts the entire body in many ways, using a process known as Osteogenic Loading. Jay O’Brien with J.L. O’Brien & Associates Inc. handled the transaction.

O’Brien, also reported some 14,000 square feet of warehouse space at 3002 Mill St. in Mobile recently sold for $396,000.