According to a press release from Austal USA, the U.S. Navy has issued a modification to Contract N00024-11-C-2301 funding the last two ships of the Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Block Buy Contract for $691,032,482 – bringing to 10 the total ships funded under the Block Buy. In the modification, the Navy has also established an optional 11th ship that could be awarded in fiscal year 2016.

The option, if exercised, would bring the total of the Independence-variant built by Austal to 13 ships, including 11 ships as the prime contractor.

Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle remarked about the award, “The Navy’s confidence in Austal’s ability to continue to produce these incredible ships only serves to increase the level of pride and dedication that Austal USA and our employees exhibit daily while working to meet the needs of our sailors.” Perciavalle continued, “The success of this program is a direct result of great teamwork with our suppliers and the full support of our local, state, and federal legislators.”

The Mobile-based shipbuilder, Austal USA.

The Mobile-based shipbuilder, Austal USA.

Austal’s Independence-variant LCS program is maturing rapidly and gaining momentum with seven ships under various stages of construction, including Jackson (LCS 6) which has begun sea trials and is preparing for delivery this summer. Montgomery (LCS 8) is preparing for sea trials and delivery by the end of the year.

Austal has also been contracted by the U.S. Navy to build 10, 103-meter Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV) under a 10-ship, $1.6 billion block buy contract, four of which have already been delivered. USNS Trenton (JHSV 5) recently successfully completed Acceptance Trials and is scheduled to be delivered in April. Three additional JHSVs are also under construction at Austal’s Mobile shipyard.

Austal, as prime contractor, is teamed with General Dynamics Mission Systems for the Independence-variant LCS program. As the ship systems integrator, General Dynamics is responsible for the design, integration and testing of the combat management, navigation, C4I, and aviation systems.

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert are expected to speak about the modified contract at a press conference on-site this afternoon.

In his own press release, Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-1) praised the announcement, saying it was made possible through the 2015 government funding bill, which passed in December with Byrne’s support.

“This funding is possible thanks to the government funding bill that passed Congress last December,” Byrne said. “I worked hard with a number of my colleagues to ensure adequate funding for the LCS program, which Navy leaders say is a key component of our future fleet. As we begin work on the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will continue to be the strongest advocate possible for our nation’s Navy and the over 4,000 workers at the Austal shipyard in Mobile.”