Australia's World-Class Shipbuilding Capabilities
Essentially an island and its own continent surrounded by the Indian and Pacific Oceans, it’s not hard to see why Australia’s defence of its maritime domain is a priority. However despite the nation’s maritime needs, the country’s shipbuilding facilities are attracting foreign defence clients as well. Australia is stepping up with regards to shipbuilding and repair with the construction of state-of-the art facilities in the pipeline, and the Australian government investing A$89 billion in the naval ship and submarine upgrading programme.
Australian Marine Complex (AMC)
The AMC is internationally acclaimed for constructing, maintaining, and repairing naval and commercial vessels, and plays an important role in maintaining the Royal Australian Navy fleet. The AMC Common User Facility (CUF) features the world’s most technologically advanced floating dock able to lift vessels of up to 12,000 tonnes out of the water. The facility has worked on projects involving RAN’s Collins Class submarines and ANZAC frigates with four wharves designed to accommodate vessels of up to 300 metres in length.
The AMC CUF houses ASC West (a submarine repair facility), Raytheon Australia, defence contractors including BAE Systems Australia Defence and the Western Australian headquarters of ASC, an Australian-owned defence contractor responsible for constructing the Collins Class submarine and Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyer. For the next 25 years, ASC’s through life support contract ensures that the Collins Class submarines are maintained at the CUF.
Adelaide Ship Construction International (ASCI)
Since its inception, ASCI has manufactured 63 vessels for the defence, commercial, fishing, tourism, and other industries – all to various survey classes including U.S. military standards.
AIMTEK Pty Ltd (trading as NQEA)
NQEA offers a wide range of defence shipbuilding services:
- Landing Craft Mechanised: 11 constructed from 1965 to 1967 for the Australian Army and are still in active service.
- Aluminium Work Boats: 22 fully welded aluminium boats constructed from 1978 to 1981 with 15 vessels for the Royal Australian Navy and 7 for the army.
- Fremantle Class Patrol Boats: 14 constructed from 1981 to 1984 for the Royal Australian Navy. NQEA received the inaugural Defence Industry Award.
- Hydrographic Survey Ships: Commissioned in 2000 for the Royal Australian Navy. The HMAS Leeuwin and Melville are highly sophisticated with support provided.
- Survey Motor Boat: The HMAS Condor was constructed in 2002 for operations with the Royal Australian Navy’s Hydrographic service.
- Coast Guard Patrol Boats: The catamaran Wauri constructed in 1988 for Australian Customs and Fisheries Queensland. The monohull New Investigator was constructed in 1989 for the National Safety Council prior to entering service for the Australian Customs and Queensland Fisheries.
- Personnel Carriers: The catamarans PVT Sorenson and PVT Anderson were constructed in 2004 for the U.S. army base at Kwajalein.
ASC is Australia’s largest specialised defence shipbuilder. With facilities in South Australia and Western Australia, ASC is responsible for the design and manufacturing of six Collins Class submarines for the Royal Australian Navy with a continued 25-year contract for repair and maintenance. ASC also received the Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) contract, the most advanced and complex warships to be built in Australia at ASC’s facility in South Australia. ASC is the lead shipbuilder for the AWD Alliance, consisting of ASC, the Australian Department of Defence, and Raytheon Australia (mission systems).
Austal represents itself as a prime contractor and maritime technology partner, designing, constructing, and supporting advanced defence and commercial vessels with over 260 designed and constructed vessels on the books for over 100 operators in 50 countries. The company excels in aluminium vessel design and construction as well as customization, having developed impressive ships like the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF), and the Auto Express 102 Trimaran. With shipbuilding operations in Australia, the U.S., and the Philippines, Austal has a range of international customers outside of Australia such as the Royal Navy of Oman, Caspian Marine Services, the U.S. Navy, and Mols Linien of Denmark.
BAE Systems Australia Defence
BAE Systems Australia Defence is a leading naval shipbuilder offering through life support and constructing vessels such as:
- Naval frigates and offshore patrol vessels for the Australian and New Zealand navies.
- Patrol boats.
- Search and Rescue Vessels.
- Research Vessels and Tugs.
- Conversion of a commercial tanker into an Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment (AOR) vessel for the Royal Australian Navy.
BAE Systems Australia Defence constructed the last two Royal Australian Navy FFG Class Frigates and 10 ANZAC Class frigates at Williamstown, the Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) programme with two amphibious ships, and hull blocks for three Air Warfare Destroyers.
Forgacs Marine and Defence is a subsidiary of Civmec (an Australian construction company). The company offers integrated services and is a multi-disciplined construction provider with facilities located at the AMC and New South Wales. Forgacs is in the process of constructing Australia’s largest state-of-the-art, 18-storey high undercover shipbuilding and repair facility at the AMC offering ease of access for Australia’s submarine force and half of its naval surface fleet. The facility will be the only one in Australia with the capacity to house complete air warfare destroyers or frigates and offshore patrol vessels for construction and maintenance.
Incat catamarans have been involved in a number of defence operations:
- The Royal Australian Navy chartered the HMAS Jervis Bay in 1999 for use during the East Timor crisis.
- In 2001, the U.S. military awarded Bollinger/Incat USA the contract for the HSV X1 Joint Venture leading to the construction of the TSV-1X Spearhead (2002) and the HSV 2 Swift (2003). The vessels were successful due to their high operational speed and long-range deployment capabilities.
- The Japanese Defence Forces utilized Incat high-speed catamarans for relief operations.
Written by Sylvia Caravotas (Satovarac Consulting) for OIDA