Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR July-Aug 2017 Contents INDUSTRY LEADERS
Asia Pacific Defence Reporter JULY/AUG 2017 17
AUSTAL CEO, DAVID SINGLETON
Since 1988, Austal has built or is building over
300 vessels for more than 100 different operators
located in 54 countries. Of these vessels, 80 per
cent have been, or will be exported. It’s a track
record that demonstrates what can be achieved
At our shipyards in Henderson, Western Australia,
we are currently constructing a 109m passenger
ferry for a commercial client, the first of 19 Pacific
Patrol Boats and managing sustainment programs
on Cape-Class and Armidale-Class patrol boats.
Managing commercial and naval shipbuilding
programs side-by-side is a typical situation for
Austal and something that we’ve worked diligently
to do well.
Over the last two years, the Australian
Government has made significant announcements
regarding the future of shipbuilding in this nation.
The RAND report, the 2016 Defence White Paper
and the 2017 Naval Shipbuilding Plan have outlined
a plan and clear policy to establish a continuous
sovereign naval shipbuilding program underpinned
by export capacity.
This is an extraordinary time for Australian defence
industry. There will not be another opportunity in
our lifetime where a Government is willing to invest
so heavily into its national capability. What we now
need from the Government is a clear understanding
of what it means by sovereign naval shipbuilding.
Sovereign capability should not be confused with
Made in Australia. Sovereign capability resides where
the intellectual property sits, where the investment
decisions are made, where new ideas and designs
are formulated, and where the jobs are created and
sustained over extended periods of time.
For example building ships in Australia is good;
designing them in Australia is better and exporting
from Australia is best. By developing an industry
that is capable of exporting, we will have a truly
sovereign shipbuilding industry. This can become
an immense source of national pride for Australia
domestically and on the international stage.
Make no mistake that achieving an export
capable steel ship capability here is highly possible.
Australia is already the world leading and dominant
designer and manufacturer of large aluminum
vessels for the high speed ferry and naval market
worldwide through two design houses and two
design builders. All of that was achieved with
relatively minor government expenditure. Think
what could be achieved with the current programs!
The decision made over the next year in the
acquisition programs for the RAN surface fleet will
determine the next 30-50 years of the shipbuilding
industry in Australia, and to that Austal and ASC
have announced a teaming agreement to offer a local
company build solution to the Future Frigate Program
using the complementary skills of both companies.
Austal understands how important it is to invest in
related skills and along with companies, partners with
Universities and technical colleges around the country,
to investing in the next generation of skilled workers.
In the United States, we administer the third
largest and most efficient ship building facility for
the US Navy. At our facility in Mobile, Alabama,
we build the Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), and the
Expeditionary Fast Transport Vessels. We are the
only foreign company in history to prime contract
naval vessels for the US.
Austal is proud to now have the largest and still
growing, naval design team in Australia because
that is where our capability resides. The work we
did to design the LCS for the US Navy is one of the
best examples of what can be achieved.
Our LCS was conceived in our Australian office
by 50 of our most skilled designers and this design
has now translated into a build program employing
5000 direct workers and 10,000 in the supply
chain including in Australia. This project alone
shows the potential synergies and spin-off from
advanced manufacturing and a home-grown design
capability and highlights the potential multiplier
effect of exports on our local economy.
Austal is currently in partnership with German
designer, Fassmer to bid for the $3 billion Offshore
Patrol Vessel program. The AustalFassmer joint
venture is the only one of the bidders to commit
without reservation or caveat that all of the detailed
design work will be done in Australia further
building our intellectual capability in medium sized
This desire to create a manufacturing base should
be important to everyone because it’s what drives
long-term high value jobs. The key is capturing the
intellectual property, which is something that Austal
and Fassmer will do together. If successful, we aim
to replicate the same export success with the OPV
as we have with many of our other projects.
Austal's CEO, David Singleton
Building ships in Australia is good; designing them in Australia
is better and exporting from Australia is best. By developing an
industry that is capable of exporting, we will have a trulysovereign
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