No Austal decision yet

ANITA McINNESSound Telegraph

Shipbuilder Austal has stopped short of declaring its Henderson shipyard will remain open once it finally decides where it will locate its regional manufacturing base.

Austal chief executive officer Andrew Bellamy, right, with staff members Daniel Schryver, Chris Fernandez, Herlan Pilotas and Esteban Lugay. PICTURE: JOHN MOKRZYCKI/THE WEST AUSTRALIAN

On July 12 the company, which announced a review of its Henderson operations in May, said it had not decided where to locate its regional manufacturing base and continued to investigate opportunities in several countries.

Late last week, chief executive officer Andrew Bellamy told The West Australian he was confident the company would still have a base at Henderson for longer than a three-year Federal Government defence contract it expected to sign in August.

Mr Bellamy said he expected a decision about a regional base would be made by December.

Meanwhile, he said, the company was also looking at building, installing and maintaining marine and mine site modules and offshore accommodation for the oil and gas industry.

The newspaper reported the company had made 100 staff redundant since the review was announced and that another 20 were to be made redundant this month.

A spokeswoman said Mr Bellamy was overseas and unable to be reached before the Sound Telegraph went to press on Monday but she confirmed more than 500 workers were employed at the shipyard.

The company has also just won a contract to build three purpose-built 21m offshore support vessels for UK firm Turbine Transfers Limited.

The spokeswoman said the vessel design was done prior to Austal’s announcement that it would review its current operations and the order was the first step for it to become a supplier to the growing European renewable energy market.

As well as chasing Australian defence work — Austal has been announced as the preferred tenderer for a $350 million contract to build eight patrol boats for the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service — it has also built defence vessels for a number of countries including the USA, Trinidad and Tobago, Malta, Yemen and Kuwait.

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