Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR October 2014 Contents 40 Asia Pacific Defence Reporter OCT 2014
unlikely and the future submarine project may come
too late to save at least two of the naval shipyards in
their present form.
The Defence Minister, Senator David Johnston, has
been critical of the low productivity of Australian naval
shipyards. He has warned that if local shipbuilders
don’t lift their game, construction of the eight new
Future Frigates may go offshore as well as the already
announced Government intention to order two big
new supply ships from either Navantia in Spain or
Daewoo in South Korea.
“No responsible government could consider
providing further work to an industry that is performing
so poorly,’’ Senator Johnston said. “This is not a blank
APDR is unaware if Forgacs in Newcastle has any
contracted new naval work after completing its AWD
blocks for consolidation at ASC Adelaide.
BAE Systems at Williamstown is working on AWD
blocks and completing the second Canberra Class
LHD. Beyond that there is little contracted naval work
although that dockyard also does commercial work.
They would have been stung by the Government’s
criticism of their poor productivity when finishing the
LHDs, when compared with overseas shipyards. The
only major opportunity for large naval vessel work
appears to be tendering for the RNZN’s new supply
ship to be delivered by 2018. This order too will be
subject to stiff competition from Navantia, Merwede,
Damen Schelde and Daewoo shipyards.
Even if BAE Systems is successful in obtaining
a share of the new Pacific Patrol Boat and future
Armidale patrol boat replacement orders it will not
provide sufficient work to retain their current highly
skilled management, production planners, designers,
technicians and construction staff.
ASC at Techport, Adelaide, have had well-
documented problems in keeping to schedule and
cost during the current AWD program. While they
have maintenance work for Collins Class submarines
and the prospect flagged by the Government (its part
owner) of being the designated location for producing
Australia’s future submarines, much re-organisation
and a probable privatisation will be required to make
it a cost-efficient and reliable shipyard.
ASC will try tendering for the new Pacific Patrol
Boats but that would be a distraction from the way
they need to organise themselves to have a future.
Austal, at Henderson south of Perth WA, is currently
in the strongest position with its forward order book.
The aluminium Cape Class patrol boats for Australia’s
Border Protection Command and two delivered to
Sri Lanka are rolling off the production
line to schedule, generating an
excellent name for Austal’s production
An interesting piece of speculation
is whether or not the occasional
groundings of Pacific Patrol Boats on
various island shores and reefs has
caused aluminium-based replacements
to be ruled out in favour of steel.
New patrol boats will bring with
them a need for training on, and
logistic support for, new technologies
employed on these craft. APDR asked
Defence if there is an anticipation
that firms tendering for patrol boat
construction will also be able to tender
for separate training and logistics
contracts. A Defence spokesperson
confirmed to APDR that “The
acquisition and support arrangements
will be contained in the request for
tender released to industry in early
On completion of the construction
program, vessels already in service for seven or eight
years will commence refits. These can take several
months to see the repair and refurbishment of key
systems to facilitate the next years of operation.
Midway through their planned 30 year life they
are likely to have a Life Extension Program refit of
up to six months which will provide the patrol boats
with improved design features, possibly including
hull modifications, updated electronic systems, new
communications equipment and radars, complete
engine overhauls, renovated or new fittings, structural
modifications to facilitate easier ships husbandry
and more advanced fresh water and high volume
COUNTRY PRIORITIES IN REPLACING
EXISTING PATROL BOATS
There are a number of potential metrics for determining
the schedule for patrol boat replacements by country
years since last upgrade, annual operating sea
days, level of utilisation, local manning and training
levels achieved, ability to fund operating costs,
economic need for constabulary operations in their
EEZ, minimising support requirements by changing
over all patrol boats in a short time where a country
has multiple patrol boats, etc.
Some existing patrol boats have been only lightly
used. It was reported that in 2008 these were only
averaging 36 sea-days a year, although this had risen
to 66 days by 2011. By way of contrast, the RAN’s
Solomon Islands Police Vessel Lata before departing from Honiara.
The trend in “blue water” navies is to go for a greater LOA than 30-32
metres to obtain better range, sea handling and crew comfort.
2/10/14 7:44 PM
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