Murdaugh out as Austal USA president

Outgoing leader oversaw addition of steel shipbuilding line

Rusty Murdaugh at the opening of Austal USA’s steel shipbuilding line in 2022. Photo by Mike Kittrell.

Rusty Murdaugh, who has been president of Austal USA in Mobile since 2021, resigned effective today. Michelle Kruger, vice president of global services and support, has been named acting president.

“Under his leadership, Austal USA completed the addition of steel shipbuilding capability to the Mobile shipyard, opening the most modern steel shipbuilding facility in the industry,” the company said of Murdaugh in announcing the leadership change. 

Addition of the steel capability “led to major competitive awards in the U.S. Coast Guard Heritage-class Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) program and U.S. Navy ocean surveillance ship (TAGOS-25) program creating over $6 billion in new construction backlog.”

  During Murdaugh’s tenure, the company added, “Austal USA also opened a waterfront ship repair facility in San Diego, greatly expanding the company’s repair business, and acquired property in Mobile that will facilitate the continued expansion of the Mobile shipyard.”

Paddy Gregg, CEO of Australia-based parent company Austal Limited, said, “Rusty made a lasting impact on the company. The transformation and growth of Austal USA under his leadership has postured the company for the future with a diversified and balanced portfolio.  Rusty is leaving Austal USA with unlimited growth potential and we thank him for all his hard work and dedication over the last two years.” 

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Just over a month ago, Austal share prices dropped suddenly and the company halted trading briefly after announcing the potential for a significant loss on towing, salvage and rescue ships (T-ATS) for the U.S. Navy, the first project on Mobile’s steel shipbuilding line.

Gregg told the Australian Financial Review at the time, “The underlying issue is that the T-ATS award was received just prior to a period of unprecedented hyperinflation. Some inaccurate assumptions were made regarding the efficiency of the new steel-panel line in its first project and the project has also been subject to specification changes from the original award.”

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