Monday, April 13, 2009

Springbored ponders over Austal's 'LCS-4' prospects

Monday, April 13, 2009

Is LCS-4 Sinking? What's Austal's Missing Contract?

Is LCS-4 in trouble? Austal is cutting a total of 62 employees...for an awfully interesting reason. From

The job cuts were due to work winding down on a vessel for Hawaii Superferry and the company not getting an expected contract on March 26, said Bill Pfister, Austal's vice president for external affairs.
As is usual for the industry, the cuts hit hard...and fast:

Laid-off workers will not get severance pay, and their benefits stop at midnight of their last day, Pfister said.

Jason Jetten, who was one of those let go, said he had been with the company as a fabricator for four years before Friday. "I was cutting a piece of plate, and the next thing I know I was packing my stuff up and going out the door," he said.

The only contracts I know that Austal Alabama's yard was expecting were...the LCS-4 and the JHSV. With Austal saying they missed an expected contract on March 26, just after LCS-3 was awarded and a spate of General Dynamics/Austal LCS "contract-is-being-negotiated" stories hit the web. Things got even murkier with Allison Stiller dashing water upon the LCS-4 contract negotiations, and, even more interestingly, on the 24th, this guy came a-calling:

Navy acquisition chief Sean Stackley is due to visit the Alabama shipyard where General Dynamics is building its first ship on Tuesday, according to two of the sources.

The three sources requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak on pending contracts.

Would have loved to have been a fly-on-the-wall for that meeting.

But remember, before all you LCS-haters celebrate the premature demise of the LCS-2 class, Hawaii Superferry got shuttered on mid-March, so maybe, with the delivery of the second Superferry--once expected in March 2009--halted, Austal is seeing some work disruption on the commercial side of the house...

...what is the deal? (Or where is the deal? Or where is the deal that wasn't?)

Is Austal simply hitting a hiccup with some expected Superferry work? Are the JHSV or LCS programs getting delayed? Or....might Lockheed be looking down both barrels of a 54-ship building program?...

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