John “Dugan” Shipway, an experienced shipbuilding manager and retired U.S. Navy rear admiral, was elected Oct. 31 to chair the board of Austal USA, the Mobile, Ala.-based shipyard that builds littoral combat ships (LCS) and Joint High Speed Vessels for the U.S. Navy.
Shipway joined the company’s board in March as an outside director, and had been rumored for months to assume more authority with the company, particularly after shipyard President Joe Rella resigned June 21.
Brian Leathers, Austal USA’s chief financial officer, has been acting as interim president since Rella’s departure.
Shipway successfully guided General Dynamics Bath Iron Works for six years before stepping down in 2009 at age 65. The Maine shipyard specializes in destroyer construction, and during Shipway’s tenure also acted as prime contractor for the Independence-class LCS built by Austal USA.
General Dynamics has since turned over the role of prime contractor on the LCS program to Austal USA.
Shipway also sits on the board of Australian submarine and shipbuilding company ASC Pty Ltd.
He retired from the Navy in 2001 after serving as director for the Strategic Systems program. Previously, he commanded the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, R.I.
With General Dynamics, he worked for two years as vice president for Full Submarine Support at the company’s Electric Boat shipyard before moving to Bath.
Leathers continues as interim president for Austal USA, and the company is said to not be actively pursuing another, permanent candidate at this time.
Shipway succeeds Lawrence Cavaiola, who served as Austal USA’s chairman for more than four years. Cavaiola will continue to serve on the board.
Austal USA, a subsidiary of Australian-based Austal, is under contract with the U.S. Navy to build nine 103-meter Joint High Speed Vessels under a 10-ship, $1.6 billion contract, and five 127-meter Independence-variant LCS class ships, four of which are part of a 10-ship, $3.5 billion contract.