NSW shipbuilder supplies US Coast Guard, Army

The US subsidiary of Port Macquarie, NSW, shipbuilder Birdon, has secured two contracts worth US$390 million ($575 m).

The contracts are to supply the US Army and the US Coast Guard.

For the US Army contract, Birdon will supply bridge erection boats (BEBs). This contract was first formalised in 2014 but has been renewed for another five years. The shipbuilder will manufacture 247 additional BEBs, requiring an increase in production facilities by 40 per cent and staffing by 25 per cent.

“It’s a strong endorsement of our capacity to deliver to schedule and on budget that the US Army has seen fit to extend our contract for a further five years. The extension builds in additional scope for Birdon and places us in a strong position to secure other global BEB opportunities and future US Department of Defence work,” said Birdon CEO, Jamie Bruce.

The design that Birdon is offering to the US Army is based on one developed for the Australian Army in 2003.

For the US Coast Guard, Birdon will refit and upgrade the agency’s fleet of 107 motor lifeboat (MLB) vessels. The 47-foot boats have reached the end of their initial 25-year service life, however, Birdon will extend the working life of the boats for another 25 years while enhancing the MLBs operational capability and performance.

Birdon will undertake the refitting and manufacturing in their shipyards in Oregon and Virginia, and will be managed from Birdon America’s headquarters in Denver, Colorado.

“The next generation of USCG vessels have very specific operational requirements, which have to be incorporated into the Service Life Extension Program (SLEP). By demonstrating beyond doubt that we could deliver on these requirements, Birdon presented as a compelling and low-risk option in the Coast Guard’s assessment of tenders,” said Bruce.

While these contracts will be delivered from the US, according to Birdon, the successful tender process was enabled by the company’s Australian operations.

“We’re proud that these significant maritime contracts, won in one of the world’s most competitive defence procurement markets, will be overseen from our headquarters in Port Macquarie. Birdon is now a global business with enduring roots in the Hastings region. As we have grown we’ve had to bolster our staffing and capability in Port Macquarie and that’s good for the local economy,” said Bruce.