Austal has begun work on a modular manufacturing facility at its Alabama shipyard, equipping its US shipyard capacity to build up to three 100m-plus vessels a year.

Phase one of the $88m facility covers 35,000m2 of manufacturing space which includes a 7,900m2 warehouse and paved parking for more than 2,000 vehicles.

The facility is currently building the US Navy’s first 103m JHSV, scheduled to commence before the end of the year.

Austal said it will design and build up to ten JHSVs in the next four years.

The company is also preparing for the US Navy acceptance trials of its 127m Littoral Combat Ship, LCS 2 Independence, which completed the builder’s trials in October.

The vessel is scheduled for commissioning in January 2010, Austal said.

Subject to Austal being awarded the ten-ship FY10 LCS contract, the construction of phase two will see the size of the MMF double to 70,000m2.