Mobicon Systems General Manager Tom Schults says that the US Navy’s decision to split the initial 20-strong order between the Australian-based ship builder Austal and the US corporation Lockheed means that Mobicon will be asked to build 10 special straddle carriers for the Austal order.
Mr Schults has been in negotiations to supply the specially-designed straddle carriers to the US Navy for the past five years. During that time Mobicon Systems built and delivered one of the special machines to Bath Iron Works, a division of General Dynamics.
Mr Schults says that the Mobicon container handling systems have become increasingly popular over large forklifts and swinglifts in a wide cross-section of industry over the past decade.
Standard Mobicon straddle carriers can unload and move containers of any size with a payload of up to 35 tonnes.
These container handling systems are employed by major organisations including Australian Customs and Toll SPD in addition to several large companies in transport and logistics, steel industry, mining operations and small port operations.
Over the past two years Mr Schults and his design team have continued to refine the machine’s design for use on board ships.
Mobicon straddle carriers have moved into a host of new areas of application thanks to the ability of their Special Applications Division to custom-design machines for unique tasks such as shipboard operations, according to Mr Schults.
He added that the future looks very bright with the initial order of 10 specially designed Mobicons and the likelihood of a total of 55 LCSs to be built as the program expands.
Key factors that influenced the choice of Mobicon container handlers for the Littoral Combat Ship include lightweight design, versatile performance and extremely low axle loadings.
The low axle loading is one of the lowest in the world and the feature is crucial for handling containers and flat-bed racks on the aluminium decks of ships.
The LCS is a relatively small, fast and manoeuvrable member of the DD(X) family of ships that can be reconfigured easily for different roles including anti-submarine warfare, mine countermeasures, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, homeland defence, maritime intercept, special operations as well as logistics.
Several Mobicons are currently at work throughout Australia as well as in England, New Zealand, the USA and Angola.