The Government has handed down its long awaited Naval Shipbuilding Plan, and from industry’s initial response it appears to have been well received. Questions, however, remain regarding the details of how defence industry will build its capability and how much of the $89 billion will be spent in Australia.
The Plan maps out the establishment of a national shipbuilding enterprise that will engage all States and Territories through their contributions to naval shipbuilding and sustainment of both current and future naval vessels, or as contributors to industry supply chains, or providers of national workforce development and skilling to meet the growing need for skilled naval shipbuilding workers across the sector.
Investment in the Naval Shipbuilding Plan includes over $89 billion in new naval ships and submarines and new investment in the order of more than $1 billion in modern shipyard infrastructure for the rolling acquisition of submarines and continuous construction of major surface combatants in South Australia, and the continuous construction of minor naval vessels in Western Australia.
Major goals in the short term are the development of the new Osborne South surface ship construction facilities, considered to be one of the most time sensitive stages of the plan, with future frigates set for steel cut in 2020. The existing infrastructure is sufficient to enable the continuing block assembly of Australia’s three air warfare destroyers and is largely suitable for construction of the smaller and less complex offshore patrol vessels.
However, according to the Government, it is inadequate for high productivity construction (versus block consolidation) of major surface combatants such as the future frigate. An investment of up to $535 million is expected to start in the second half of 2017, following consideration of the detailed design and awarding of contracts. The Government also announced on 20 February 2017 that it will invest $100 million in naval related industrial infrastructure and sustainment in Western Australia from 2017 to 2020.
The Government has outlined four key enablers necessary for the success of the naval shipbuilding enterprise, that will require its additional investment as well as engagement and investment from industry:
- The first of these enablers is a modern, innovative and secure naval shipbuilding and sustainment infrastructure
- The second enabler of the naval shipbuilding enterprise is a highly capable, productive and skilled naval shipbuilding and sustainment workforce. By 2026, the industry will require over 5 200 staff employed in construction activities, and more than double that number employed in sustainment activities and in supply chain and related institutions and industries that directly and indirectly support the enterprise, on both the customer (Government) and supplier (industry) sides of the activity. Over 15 000 personnel will ultimately be directly or indirectly employed in the naval shipbuilding enterprise
- The third enabler of the naval shipbuilding enterprise is a motivated, innovative, cost-competitive and sustainable Australian industrial base with industry at its centre
- The final of the four enablers of the Naval Shipbuilding Plan is a national approach to its implementation
For more details visit Naval Shipbuilding Plan