Final Air Warfare Destroyer completed at SA shipyard

Photo: Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, Minister for Defence, Linda Reynolds and Commander Edward Seymour, Commanding Office of Sydney

The final Air Warfare Destroyer, built at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in Adelaide, has been officially handed over to Defence.

NUSHIP Sydney is the final of the three ships delivered by the Air Warfare Destroyer Alliance which includes the Department of Defence, Raytheon Australia, and ASC Shipbuilding, supported by Navantia Australia.

“I congratulate the 5000 workers who have worked directly on this program over the past decade, from the design phase through to the construction, integration and delivery of these magnificent ships,” Minister for Defence, Linda Reynolds, said at the official ceremony marking the handover of the ship to Defence.

“This marks the end of the Air Warfare Destroyer project but the true beginning of our national naval shipbuilding endeavour, which will provide jobs and capability built right here in Australia for decades and generations to come.

“This program is not just about ensuring that our Navy has the best capability. It is also about building a sovereign industrial capability right here in Australia and that is what we are doing.”

Once commissioned later this year, NUSHIP Sydney will join HMA Ships Hobart and Brisbane to complete Navy’s new fleet of warships.

Around 2,700 Australian small- and medium-sized businesses contributed to the delivery of the ship, according to Deputy Secretary of National Naval Shipbuilding, Tony Dalton, who is responsible for National Naval Shipbuilding within the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group in the Department of Defence.

“We’ll build on those foundations as we go into the Hunter class frigate and the Attack class submarine that will be all built right here in Osborne in South Australia,” Dalton said.

Minister Reynolds reiterated the government and Naval Group’s commitment to a 60 per cent minimum Australian Industry Capability for the Future Submarines program.

“Since becoming Minister for Defence, I’ve been in constant contact with the French Minister for Defence Florence Parly about the Attack class program. At our most recent meeting a couple of weeks ago, we both confirmed and re-acknowledged that this is an important sovereign capability and project for both nations,” Reynolds said.

“And we are both personally committed to working together to ensure that the project is on time, is on cost, which it is, and also most importantly I think for here particularly in South Australia, that the Australian industry content is as maximised as possible.

However, it will be another 2 -3 years before Australian industry is approached for the supply and manufacture of components as the project is currently still in the design phase.

“But there’s over 1,600 companies that have put expressions of interest in to Naval Group and over 3,500 have also sort of engaged with the company, so the company is doing those early engagements and we are making sure that they look hard and they find – for the things that we can produce here in Australia, that we make sure that we procure them here,” Reynolds said.

“Ultimately this Government has invested $90 billion into upgrading naval capability and doing it here in Australia. That’s 57 ships which are in production which are already underway both in Western Australia and here in Adelaide for the first two Offshore Patrol Vessels, so this is not the only program that Australians across a wide range of endeavours and a wide range of products and goods and services can engage across the entire naval shipbuilding program.

“We’ve already got hundreds of companies who are in the supply chain for the Guardian class which we’re producing in Perth and also great news you may not have heard but Luerssen who are producing OPVs have already reached 60 per cent Australian industry content and in fact the AWD Alliance for the three ships – one of which we’re standing on today – has achieved over 60 per cent of Australian industry content.

At the Senate Economics References Committee on Australia’s sovereign naval shipbuilding capability last week, Naval Group ‘s executive vice president for Future Submarines, Jean-Michel Billig, said the company was confident it will achieve 60 per cent AIC, as all 12 submarines will be built in Australia.

Naval Group was criticised earlier, by Reynolds, after CEO John Davis was quoted in The Australian as saying the company faced ‘challenges’ in engaging Australian industry.

“There has been recent commentary questioning Naval Group’s commitment to industry which has been both disappointing and inaccurate,” Billig said.

“In the programs we have been associated with in Brazil and India, we exceeded our ambitions for local content and capability and we are extremely confident we will do the same in Australia even though Australia is a much more demanding customer.

“Therefore herewith we commit to a level of Australian industry capability that will have the effect of at least 60 per cent of the Naval Group contract value spent in Australia.”