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Austal first to reveal contract for US Navy Next Generation Logistics Ship program

NGLS design studies
NGLS would augment the operations of larger replenishment ships such as the T-AO oilers T-AKE dry cargo ships shown in this US Navy photo.

The US branch of Australian shipbuilder Austal announced on December 21 it received a $2 million contract for design studies for the US Navy’s Next Generation Logistics Ship (NGLS) program.

The contract will require Austal USA to develop a new baseline design and perform specific trade studies for the navy’s newest logistics ship.

Austal’s announcement comes after the US Naval Sea Systems Command released a request for proposals for the new class of ships in June this year. The program was first announced in 2020.

According to previously released information, the navy envisions the NGLS as potentially a family of vessels to rearm, refuel, and resupply afloat and ashore units near contested environments.

With an eye on China, the navy is looking to more effectively counter the improving A2/AD capabilities of its peers, and is looking to introduce a more distributed fleet architecture that would include fewer larger ships and more of the smaller ships.

This is where the Next Generation Logistics Ships comes into play. The vessels would augment the current combat logistics force ships to conduct logistics missions in support of distributed maritime operations (DMO), littoral operations contested environment (LOCE), and expeditionary advanced base operations (EABO).

The navy earlier said it planned to award multiple firm fixed price (FFP) contracts for industry studies for the NGLS, but Austal is so far the only known yard to receive the contract.

Austal Limited CEO Paddy Gregg said the contract was another significant step forward in Austal USA’s expansion into steel naval ship design and construction. The company is currently building aluminum-hulled Independence-variant of littoral combat ships, and expeditionary fast transport (EPF) vessels.

“Adding to the concept design work Austal is already undertaking for the US Navy’s light amphibious warship (LAW) program and the recent construction contract for up to five Towing, Salvage and Rescue (T-ATS) ships, this contract further demonstrates Austal USA’s capabilities and commitment to steel naval ship design and construction,” Gregg said.

The United States Navy’s NGLS program represents a new class of medium-sized, at-sea supply ships intended to support small surface combatants such as littoral combat ships (LCS) and frigates as well as the navy’s planned light amphibious warships.

According to the navy’s long-range shipbuilding document from 2020, the expected NGLS procurement cost is $150 million per ship.