Andrew Byrne, First Assistant Secretary, National Naval Shipbuilding Office
This year has been as memorable as it has challenging. As we count down to 2021, it’s easy to write 2020 off as a year of disruption. But for the National Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise, it’s been a year of achievement, resilience and significant milestones.
Despite the challenges of COVID-19, in 2020 the Enterprise maintained momentum and continued delivering new capabilities for the Royal Australian Navy, jobs for Australian workers and opportunities for Australian industry. Importantly, the Government’s unprecedented investment in naval shipbuilding provided certainty, confidence and cash flow to help businesses and workers weather the COVID-induced economic crisis.
Here are just a few of the major milestones we saw in the final quarter of 2020.
World’s first fully digital shipyard opens
In September the Prime Minister announced that construction at Osborne Naval Shipyard – South was complete and the shipyard ready to be handed over to ASC Shipbuilding, the Prime contractor for the Hunter Class Frigate Program.
This significant milestone sees the realisation of a vision to build the world’s most advanced naval shipyard in South Australia. The Government’s major investment at Osborne will enable the efficient construction of nine Hunter class frigates over the next two decades, and then potentially even more advanced warships from the 2040s.
Hunter class frigate prototyping commences
The completion of Osborne Naval Shipyard – South will enable the next major milestone – prototyping for the Hunter Class Frigate Program – to commence this month.
There are already more than 1000 businesses across Australia registered with ASC Shipbuilding to participate in the Hunter class frigate build.
There will be a number of contracts signed with Australian companies as part of the 33 work packages to be released during the Hunter Class Frigate prototyping phase, including for blast and paint services, pipe couplings, cables and ship outfit and furnishing materials.
ASC Shipbuilding has also started employee training and apprenticeship programs which are vital to training and growing the workforce that will build our new anti-submarine warfare frigates.
Unlocking more opportunities for Australian business and workers
During October, Australia further solidified the opportunity for growing the skills and capability of our Australian shipbuilding workforce by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Kingdom to cooperate on our respective frigate building programs (Type 26 and Hunter).
Australia and the United Kingdom are concurrently building fleets of new frigates based on the same design, giving us a unique opportunity to work with the United Kingdom to share knowledge, and create additional opportunities for Australian industry and Australian workers.
In our Memorandum of Understanding with the United Kingdom we have agreed to cooperate on maximising job creation in Australia and the UK, securing economic growth, and supporting our small and medium sized enterprises to participate in delivering these world-class vessels.
There are already seven Australian companies contracted to work on the United Kingdom’s Type 26 frigate program, providing Australian workers involved with unique opportunities to build good skills and knowledge that they will bring home to Australia and share with their colleagues on the Hunter Class Frigate Program.
If you are a student, a job seeker, or a skilled professional looking to move into a sector that offers excitement and job security, I encourage you to join the Naval Shipbuilding College’s National Workforce Register.
The Naval Shipbuilding College has forged ahead this year in building a pipeline of workers who will deliver world-class submarines and ships to our Australian Defence Force – but we still need many, many more people to fill all of the positions that will be available in the coming decades.