Alcoa (NYSE:AA) announced today that it has been awarded a subcontract from Austal USA to produce aluminum tie downs for the Joint High-Speed Vessel (JHSV).
The 10 JHSV ships, slated for completion by 2015, will be the U.S. military’s first aluminum catamaran fleet.
“We are excited to be working with Austal on this groundbreaking fleet,” said David Dobson, president, Alcoa Defense. “Through our design and engineering expertise, we are helping to expedite the manufacturing process for the fleet while simultaneously making aluminum shipbuilding more affordable.”
Designed to secure cargo, equipment and vehicles in the JHSV’s mission bay, the all-aluminum tie downs are 50 percent lighter than conventional steel tie downs. The tie downs will be manufactured from high-strength aluminum by Alcoa’s facility in Auburn, Ind. By providing the finished tie downs, Alcoa Defense helps Austal streamline the supply chain and achieve its lean manufacturing goals.
“We are now applying decades of experience in creating subassemblies for a variety of industries to build innovative, high-quality marine structures,” said Scott R. Kerns, vice president and general manager, Alcoa Transportation Products. “Alcoa makes it easier and more affordable for shipyards to integrate aluminum structures in their vessels.”
Collaboratively developed by Alcoa and Austal USA, the all-aluminum tie downs were designed to replace traditional steel tie downs, which require a more expensive, complex, labor-intensive process for joining and installation. The aluminum tie downs offer the same structural strength and performance as steel at a fraction of the weight and installed cost. Additionally, the aluminum tie downs enhance the long-term durability and structural integrity of the JHSV because, unlike steel, they will not produce galvanic corrosion when attached to the JHSV’s aluminum deck.
The announcement of the tie down subcontract follows Alcoa being awarded the subcontract for sheet and plate and Austal’s recent keel laying for Spearhead, the first JHSV. Keel laying, which historically meant the laying down the central or main timber that established the backbone of a vessel, is now the symbolic recognition of the start of the shipbuilding process. Spearhead, a U.S. Army vessel, will be a 338-foot aluminum catamaran capable of transporting troops and their equipment, supporting humanitarian relief efforts, operating in shallow waters and reaching speeds in excess of 35 knots when loaded to peak capacity. Spearhead is the first of 10 JHSVs to be jointly operated by both the U.S. Army and the Navy.