Austal has welcomed today’s release of Australia’s 2013 Defence White Paper and the Future Submarine Industry Skills Plan, noting that they foreshadowed a more conducive climate for Australian naval shipbuilding – including two significant patrol boat acquisition programs that lie firmly within Austal’s field of expertise.
Austal Chief Executive Officer Andrew Bellamy said the announcements indicated the Government had recognised that naval shipbuilding was a strategic capability that could and should be retained and enhanced through increased co-ordination between Defence and industry.
“It is very encouraging that the Government has expressed a commitment to, at the very least, consider balancing the shipbuilding program to provide greater stability as well as providing specific measures to aid the retention of critical skills,” he said.
“We believe a coordinated, long-term approach to naval shipbuilding would benefit both Defence and industry. More consistent and more predictable work would enable companies like Austal to deliver increasingly better value to the Commonwealth and foster the retention and development of the excellent skills that exist in our industry. It would also help mitigate the risks and costs associated with adjusting to meet the large variations in demand which are traditionally associated with naval shipbuilding.”
Most specifically to Austal, Mr Bellamy said the company’s existing capabilities in Western Australia could be particularly beneficial to the planned acquisition of new patrol boats for the Royal Australian Navy and the Pacific Maritime Security Program, which were outlined in the Defence White Paper.
“Our success with patrol boat programs for state, Australian and international governments shows that we already have the world-class engineering, manufacturing and management skills and facilities, and a portfolio of proven designs that can readily be applied to both these new projects,” Mr Bellamy said.
“The fact that we can undertake construction of these vessels here in Australia, with Australian technology, and supported by a significant existing supply chain largely made up of Australian small and medium enterprises, means these programs can directly support the retention and enhancement of the nation’s naval shipbuilding capabilities.
“Provided the timing allows for continuing production from the current Cape Class Patrol Boat construction program, this would be perfectly in line with the recommendations of the Future Submarine Industry Skills Plan.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for the Commonwealth, for Austal and our employees, and for the diverse industry that supports Australia’s defence and maritime security capabilities.”
As one of Australia’s principal naval shipbuilding companies, Austal was represented on the Expert Industry Panel by Andrew Bellamy.
“As an Australian-headquartered, globally operating naval prime contractor, Austal was very pleased to contribute to this important initiative,” Mr Bellamy said. “We look forward to reviewing the Skills Plan in detail and contributing to subsequent implementation actions.”
Source: Austal Ltd.
Date: May 8, 2013