Vessel build share

Gareth McKnight and Aiden BoyhamSound Telegraph

Henderson-based rivals Austal and Civmec look set to play a key role in the Federal Government’s $4 billion Offshore Patrol Vessel project after German designer Luerssen was awarded the prime contract to deliver 12 vessels.

Under the OPV project, two vessels are set to be built in Adelaide with the remaining 10 to be constructed in Henderson in a move tipped to create hundreds of jobs.

In original bidding for the project, Austal teamed with German designer Fassmer while Civmec and Adelaide shipbuilder ASC teamed up with Luerssen.

In a move that caught some industry experts by surprise, the Government chose to include both Austal and Civmec in the program, with the aim of utilising the vast capabilities of both companies in Henderson.

Both Austal and Civmec are now set to stake their claims for the project in commercial negotiations with Luerssen.

Following the announcement from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne last Friday, Austal chief executive David Singleton said the program would be an important addition to $2.5 billion of work Austal had won in the past 18 months.

This important program will not only deliver new capability for the navy but will continue to build the industrial base in Australia in line with the Government’s stated intent,

Mr Singleton said.

Civmec chairman James Fitzgerald also congratulated Luerssen on being the chosen designer and prime contractor for the project.

“We look forward to continuing our working relationship with them over the coming months to offer the Commonwealth a solution that maximises the efficiencies of Civmec’s proven expertise in manufacturing integrated complex steel structures,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

The first steel on the project is expected to be cut in Adelaide in the second half of 2018, while construction in WA is set to begin in late 2020.

State Defence Minister Paul Papalia congratulated “two wonderful Western Australian companies” on their involvement and said he hoped the Federal Government would now “get on with things”.

“The State Government has a strong relationship with Luerssen and look forward to discussing further the mooted creation of a shipbuilding hub in WA to market some of our other ship designs into the Asian region,” he said.

“I would call on the Federal Government to now take immediate action to invest in infrastructure to prepare the AMC for building the OPVs and to fill the gap between this announcement and the work starting.”

As detailed in the Federal Government’s 2016 Defence White Paper, the OPVs form part of the country’s biggest regeneration of naval capability since World War Two.

Once completed, the new vessels are set to allow the Royal Australian Navy to undertake more extensive operations and protect resources over greater distances and in more complex maritime environments.

The OPV project is expected to create hundreds of jobs in Henderson.

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