US Navy wants two more Navajo class Towing Salvage and Rescue Ships

According to a PR published by Austal on July 26, 2022, the company was awarded a $156 million U.S. Navy contract option for the construction of two Navajo-class Towing, Salvage, and Rescue Ships (T-ATS). With the award, Austal is now under contract for four T-ATS having received awards for T-ATS 11 and 12 in October 2021.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Artist rendering of the Navajo-class Towing, Salvage, and Rescue Ships USNS Lenni Lenape (Picture source: U.S. DoD)

T-ATS will provide ocean-going tug, salvage, and rescue capabilities to support U.S. Navy fleet operations and will be a multi-mission common hull platform capable of towing heavy ships. These ships will also be able to support current missions, including oil spill response, humanitarian assistance, and wide area search and surveillance.

The contract award follows Austal USA’s start of construction on its first T-ATS ship earlier this month that was celebrated at a ceremony attended by governmental officials and local community leaders. The highlight of the ceremony had U.S. Representative Jerry Carl (AL-01) pushing the plasma cutter button making the first cut of steel for the ship.

Austal USA will utilize its proven ship manufacturing processes and innovative methods that incorporate lean manufacturing principles, modular construction, and moving assembly lines, all housed under the company’s state-of-the-art enclosed steel production facility. Construction on T-ATS 13 and 14 will commence fall 2023 and spring 2024 with delivery planned for fall 2025 and spring 2026, respectively.

The ships have a length of 263 ft (80 m), a beam of 59 ft (18 m), a draft of 17.7 ft (5.4 m), and a depth of 24.6 ft (7.5 m). They can displace 5,110 long tons (5,190 t).

The class is powered by two diesel engines Wartsila 8L32 and can reach a top speed of 15.1 knots (28.0 km/h; 17.4 mph). They can carry up a complement of 42 sailors.