The Department of Defense awarded nine separate defense contracts Monday, worth $1.6 billion in total. Among these, two contracts went to General Dynamics (NYSE: GD ) and Australian shipbuilder Austal (NASDAQOTH: AUTLY ) , its partner in building half the U.S. Navy's fleet of Littoral Combat Ships, or LCSes.
Austal won the larger of the two contracts, a $683.7 million contract to perform basic seaframe construction on two LCSes, purchase select systems equipment for installation aboard the vessels, and integrate and test this equipment. This contract will run through June 2018.
Austal/General Dynamics' version of the LCS, as seen above in the second ship of the LCS line, USS Independence (LCS-2), deviates from the standard "monohull" concept of warship design. It uses a "trimaran" design that is expected to give the vessel more stability and allow it to move at greater speeds, and supports a wider flight deck for helicopter and UAV operations. Displacing 3,100 tons, the vessel measures 418 feet in length, carries a crew of from 40 to 75 sailors, and can carry up to two helicopters aboard. In addition, these LCSes are designed to carry various mission modules which can be switched out as needed to tailor the vessel to the missions it will be expected to perform on any given voyage.
Today's funding does not cover the entire cost of building General Dynamics' two vessels, which are expected to cost approximately $670 million each.
Separately, General Dynamics was awarded a second contract Monday through its Electric Boat subsidiary. Electric Boat was awarded a $57.2 million contract modification to prepare for "post-shakedown" maintenance, repair, alteration, testing, and other work on the nuclear attack submarine USS Minnesota, which was commissioned last year. This work is expected to continue through February 2015.