Austal USA won a contract potentially worth up to $3.2 billion for the detail design and construction (DD&C) of up to seven of the new T-AGOS(X) ocean surveillance ships, now called T-AGOS-25 ships, according to a May 18 contract announcement.

The contract starts as the DD&C for the first in the new class of auxiliary general ocean surveillance ships with a value of $114 million. It includes options for the DD&C of up to seven T-AGOS-25 ships along with special studies, engineering and industrial, provision item orders, post-delivery mission system installation periods, and data rights buy-out of seven total ships, which if exercised would raise the total value to $3.2 billion.

Illustration of the T-AGOS-25 auxiliary ocean surveillance ship. (Image: Austal USA)
Illustration of the T-AGOS-25 auxiliary ocean surveillance ship. (Image: Austal USA)

Work will largely be split among Mobile, Ala. (42 percent); Houma, La. (13 percent); Camden, NJ (13 percent); and Shelton, Conn. (six percent) and various other locations across the U.S. The work on the first ship is expected to be finished by November 2024.

However, if all options are exercised, work will continue through June 2034.

This contact was competitively procured with one other offeror, but per usual the Navy did not disclose the other competitor.

Austal said while it is the prime contractor, it is teaming with L3Harris Technologies [LHX], Noise Control Engineering, TAI Engineering, and Thoma-Sea Marine Constructors.

The Navy’s FY 2024 budget request documents explained T-AGOS ships gather underwater acoustic data to support the Integrated Undersea Surveillance System via theater anti-submarine passive and active surveillance.

These vessels are “operated by Military Sealift Command to support the anti-submarine warfare mission of the commanders of the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets,” the documents said.

Current T-AGOS ship classes use Surveillance Towed-Array Sensor System (SURTASS) equipment to gather the undersea acoustic information and equipment to transmit the data via satellite to shore stations. 

In late 2021, the Navy issued an updated version of its final Request For Proposals for the T-AGOS-25 class. These seven new ships are meant to replace the current five aging T-AGOS 19-23 ships (Defense Daily, Dec. 22, 2021).

The FY ‘24 budget documents said T-AGOS-25 is expected to start construction in July 2025 and be delivered around January 2028, with follow-on vessels expected to be delivered six to 12 months after the previous vessel.

“The Austal USA team is excited to support the U.S. Navy with this critical program. We have enjoyed our long partnership with the Navy in delivering aluminum ships and we are honored to continue that relationship in delivering high-quality steel ships on schedule and on budget,” Austal USA President Rusty Murdaugh said in a statement.

“As the electronic and propulsion systems integrator, we’re excited to be a partner on the Austal USA team to develop the next class of T-AGOS ocean surveillance ships,” Anthony Nigara, president for Maritime at L3Harris, added.

Austal argued it will build the T-AGOS vessels via its “proven ship manufacturing processes and innovative production methods that incorporate lean manufacturing principles, modular construction, and moving assembly lines in the company’s state-of-the-art enclosed steel production facility.”

Austal opened its steel facility in Mobile last year after previously focusing on producing aluminum-based ships like the Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship  (Defense Daily, April 15, 2022) 

Before this T-AGOS steel contract, Austal USA was already on contract to build four of the first five steel Navajo-class Towing, Salvage, and Rescue Ships (Defense Daily, July 22, 2022), an Auxiliary Floating Dry Dock Medium (Defense Daily, June 21, 2022) and up to 11 Coast Guard Offshore Patrol Cutters (Defense Daily, June 30, 2022).