The Navy awarded Austal USA a $2 million contract to perform design studies for the Next Generation Logistics Ship (NGLS) class, the company announced Dec. 21.

The award requires the company to develop a new baseline design and perform specific trade studies for the new class logistic ship.

Austal said it sees the NGLS work as another step in expanding the company into steel ship design and construction.

“Adding to the concept design work Austal is already undertaking for the US Navy’s Light Amphibious Warship (LAW) program and the recent construction contract for up to five Towing, Salvage and Rescue (T-ATS) ships, this contract further demonstrates Austal USA’s capabilities and commitment to steel naval ship design and construction,” Austal Limited CEO Paddy Gregg said in a statement.

In September, the Navy awarded Austal USA a $145 million modification for the detail design and construction of two Navajo-class towing, salvage and rescue ships, T-ATS-11 and 12, with options for up to three more ship. At the time, the company said the T-ATS ships will be the first steel vessels Austal USA builds (Defense Daily, Oct. 5).

Last year, the Navy held a virtual industry day for the NGLS. The announcement outlined some key priorities for the vessel (Defense Daily, May 15, 2020).

The Navy sees NGLS as smaller than ships currently in the Combat Logistics Force while able to operate near contested environments and sustain surface action groups and expeditionary advanced base requirements. The service plans to acquire NGLSs by converting existing vessels, contracting new construction, or a combination of both to reach the amount of NGLSs vessels needed.

Austal said the NGLS program is looking to acquire a new class of medium-sized supply ships to support small surface combatants like Littoral Combat Ships, Constellation-class frigates, and the planned LAW. NGLS missions include re-fueling, re-arming and resupplying naval forces.