Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR July-Aug 2017 Contents INDUSTRY LEADERS
ASC CEO, STUART WHILEY
ASC is the ‘seed bed’ for Australian submarine capability
growth. Australia is entering an unprecedented period
of naval submarine and shipbuilding production and
through-life support, following decisions by the Federal
Government to establish a sovereign and sustainable
With thirty years’ experience as Australia’s
sovereign submarine platform company, and only
builder of major warships, ASC is well placed to
support this national endeavour.
ASC operates as two separate businesses under
a common Board of Directors and owner, the Federal
ASC Shipbuilding is headed by Chief Executive
Officer Mark Lamarre and is the shipbuilder of the Air
Warfare Destroyer (AWD) program.
As ASC’s Interim Chief Executive Officer, I run the
Collins Class submarine sustainment business.
With 30 years’ experience in the submarine industry
in Australia, I want to make some observations about
the challenge and opportunity of meeting Australia’s
submarine capability requirements in coming years.
ASC was first launched in the 1980s, as the
Australian Submarine Corporation, a Joint Venture
established by Collins Class submarine designer
Kockums of Sweden which won the contract to build
Australia’s next submarine fleet.
Starting from a green-fields site in Adelaide, ASC
built six Collins Class submarines in 17 years –
establishing Australia’s first-ever sovereign submarine
build capability – a significant national achievement.
Today Australia faces another mountain to climb,
but as a nation we are in a much stronger position
due to the lessons learnt and the capability developed
from the Collins Class experience, both in building
and through-life support of submarines.
The first of Australia’s 12 new Future Submarines
will begin construction in Adelaide in the early
2020s, and will likely enter service approximately
a decade later.
The Collins Class fleet will remain Australia’s front
line submarine for the next 15-20 years, requiring
maintenance and upgrade, and a number of Collins
boats will need to have their service life extended into
For Australia to meet the challenge of becoming
the parent nation for two classes of submarines, it
is estimated we will have to double our submarine
Currently Australian industry employs about 1700
submarine personnel – highly skilled and hard-to-
find people, including about 1200 with ASC in our
In the long term Australia will require a submarine
industry of approximately 3000 personnel, involved
in designing, building and sustaining submarines
throughout their service life.
ASC’s primary focus will remain the sustainment of
the Collins Class fleet, working with our partners to
ensure it remains regionally superior and available for
service at international benchmark levels.
But ASC also recognises its role as the “seed bed”
of Australia’s future capability.
ASC’s submarine business has restructured to
meet the challenges of growing Australia’s submarine
capability over the next five years.
ASC is already supporting the Future Submarine
program, with more than 20 ASC experts seconded
with Defence’s SEA 1000 Project Office – a number
that is likely to grow in coming years.
And we also look forward to assisting the prime
contractors, designer Naval Group Australia (formerly
DCNS Australia) and combat system integrator
ASC personnel are likely to enjoy the ‘best of both
worlds’, working on a range of submarine capability
tasks including Collins Class and Future Submarines.
So what does ASC offer in supporting the build-up
in Australia’s submarine capability incoming years?
ASC has adapted to Australia’s remoteness in the
global defence industry by building up a sovereign
supply network in Australia of hundreds of local
companies – a critical network required in order to
meet the RAN’s submarine availability requirements.
As the design authority for the Collins Class,
ASC has also established a ‘technical support
network’ of more than 50 ‘subject matter experts’
organisations including universities, Defence
organisations and specialist firms that work with
ASC to solve some very complex and unique
ASC is a member of the Australian Submarine
Enterprise, established with the RAN and the
Defence Department following the ground-breaking
Coles Review of 2012. It now also includes Collins
Class combat system integrator Raytheon Australia.
The Enterprise provides a platform for open
and honest dialogue between partners, who work
collaboratively but with clear lines of responsibility
to deliver a common outcome – submarine
availability for the RAN.
The Enterprise approach supported ASC’s
successful reform of its deep maintenance operations
since 2012, which has resulted this year in ASC
beating international benchmarks for our submarine
Supporting this improvement, ASC has expanded
our operations in Western Australia, where more than
350 personnel carry out significant maintenance of
operational submarines close to the RAN submarine
base on Garden Island.
From this year the Enterprise has committed to
going ‘beyond benchmark’ in submarine availability.
I believe the Enterprise approach will be a crucial
model for meeting Australia’s overall submarine
capability requirements in coming years, aligning
the roles and responsibilities of all parties, including
Defence and industry partners, and minimises the
risks of disruption to all submarine programs.
As the head of Australia’s only sovereign
submarine industrial capability, I’m enthusiastic and
optimistic about expanding our national submarine
Our history shows that, working together, we can
meet that challenge.
ASC CEO, Stuart Whiley
16 Asia Pacific Defence Reporter JULY/AUG 2017
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