Austal Limited announced it has signed a first contract with the US Marine Corp to charter a 101 metre high speed Theatre Logistics Vessel. The Theatre Logistics Vessel is being chartered by the Third Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF) for the rapid deployment of Marine battalions and equipment in the Western Pacific. The contract involves an initial 'proof of concept' period of approximately two months but it is anticipated that this will be extended for a longer period once the vessel demonstrates its ability to meet the Marines' needs.
Austal developed the high speed Theatre Logistics Vessel to enhance the capability of military organisations to rapidly move large numbers of troops and cargo during military operations. The vessel has large bow and stern ramps enabling her to load and unload military vehicles in low infrastructure ports. With strengthened decks, internal hoistable ramps and mezzanine decks the vessel can carry a wide mix of military vehicles.
Austal's Managing Director, Bob McKinnon, said the Marines considered a number of vessels available from competitors.
"We are extremely proud that Austal was selected by the US Military to bethe first supplier of a Theatre Logistics Vessel," said Mr. McKinnon. "Our vessel allows III MEF to rapidly transport a complete battalion of more than 950 marines together with up to 550 tonnes of vehicles and equipment, in one lift, with considerable strategic and cost advantages," explained Mr. McKinnon.The needs of the US Military for this type of vessel are potentially huge and this was a major consideration in Austal's strategic decision to establish Austal USA.