MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) — Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville took a tour through Austal on Tuesday, outlining some of his efforts on this year’s Defense Authorization Bill. It was also an opportunity to hear from the president of Austal USA.
Tuberville said this is his second or third visit to Austal and noted that it changes in a positive way, every time. He said he remembers coming down to Mobile to recruit back when he was a coach.
“It’s a very important part of our national security, this area right here,” Tuberville said.
Tuberville said this trip is an important step in getting the National Defense Authorization Act approved. If passed, it would authorize billions of defense dollars for the 2023 fiscal year.
“To where we can get more work done here at Austal,” Tuberville said.
Tuberville is also a member of the Armed Services Committee. Currently, Austal is in the process of adding steel ships to its belt, which the president said is going quite well.
“It was a couple years ago when we weren’t certain of our future. Just building aluminum ships wasn’t meeting the intentions of what the Navy needed so we listened to our employees and our customers,” Austal USA President Rusty Murdaugh said.
Fast forwarding to today, Murdaugh said Austal is not only meeting the needs of aluminum ships but also steel ship contracts.
“And the offshore patrol cutter contract with the Coast Guard, that’s huge. How’s that coming along so far?” NBC 15 Reporter Lisa Librenjak asked.
“It’s coming along really well. We got turned down recently, so we’re starting to order materials, our engineers are starting to ramp up making sure that boat is producible, meaning we’re excited about not only getting the first 11 ships, but the follow on orders as well,” Murdaugh said.
Tuberville also pointed out the emergency medical ship Austal is working on with the Navy.
“We haven’t built a medical ship since what, World War II?” Tuberville asked.
“Forty plus years,” Murdaugh responded.
“Yeah, long time and it’s way overdue,” Tuberville said.
Austal has roughly 2,600 ship builders and that’s a couple hundred people down from the last two or so years, according to the president. However, with the success the president said they’re having now, he’s hoping to hire up to 1,200 people in the next 12 to 18 months.