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Australia’s Shipbuilding Sector
ig ticket shipbuilding programmes
such as the Air Warfare Destroyer
and amphibious warfare vessels have
revitalised the local industry, which
had contracted following completion
of the Anzac frigate, Armidale patrol boat and
Collins submarine programmes. However vital
skills have been lost to other industries, in
particular the mining sector, which has enjoyed
sustained and massive growth for several years.
Building warships is a huge undertaking and it
has been difficult for the sector to sustain the levels
of activity required to keep skilled workforces
intact and slipways busy, particularly given the
relatively small size of the Royal Australian Navy.
Several Australian shipbuilders have however
enjoyed export success, particularly in the patrol
Shipbuilding is more than just fabrication and
the ‘boom and bust’ cycles of major defence
warship programmes also takes its toll on the
design and technical management companies
In spite of this, the sector remains relatively
healthy and there is a diverse range of companies
across the country. Space precludes an exhaustive
survey of the industry but the following is a
‘snapshot’ of some of the major participants and
The State Governments of South and Western
Australia, in particular, recognize the value of a
healthy shipbuilding industry and have partnered
with industry to develop local facilities.
Techport at Osborne in Adelaide has been
constructed to support the Air Warfare Destroyer
Alliance in the construction of the three vessels
for the Royal Australian Navy.
The South Australian Government has invested
over $300 million in Techport, which it says will
also attract future naval and shipbuilding work
to the state.
Included in the infrastructure is an eight-
hectare Common User Facility, which has a wharf,
runway, dry berth, transfer system and what
it claims is the largest shiplift in the southern
hemisphere. The shiplift is 156 metres long and
34 metres wide and capable of supporting a
vessel of up to 9300 tonnes and is capable of
expansion to 210 metres and capable of lifting up
to 22000 tonnes in the future.
Techport also has adjacent industrial,
commercial and education precincts to support
construction activities. The supplier precinct
includes AMI Marine, Babcock, Ferrocut, Le
Fevre Developments, National Crane Hire and
Pacific Marine Batteries as tenants.
As well as AWD activity, ASC is performing
through life support for the Collins-class
submarines at Techport and may also assemble
the RAN’s future submarine there in the future.
In Western Australia, the Australian Marine
Complex is a focal point for shipbuilding activity.
Within the complex are BAE Systems’ Marine
Support Facility and a Common User Facility,
which is funded by federal and state money.
The Common User Facility was initially funded
to $200 million but an additional $170 million
has been contributed by the Western Australian
Government to upgrade the facility.
One of its major features is a floating dock,
capable of accommodating vessels of up to
12,000 tonnes and which, the Western Australian
Government says, will add more than $2 million
to the state’s economy over 25 years.
The Australian Marine Complex itself
incorporates around 150 businesses, including
specialists in shipbuilding and fabrication,
technology and support. Major work carried out
in the facility has included the conversion of the
RANs fleet oiler from civil specifications and the
ongoing Anzac ASMD upgrade programme, SEA
AIR WARFARE DESTROYER ALLIANCE
The AWD Alliance is a government/industry
partnership formed in 2005 to oversee the design,
Air Warfare Destroyer module at ASC
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