Defence, Engineering, Manufacturing News, South Australia

US partnership to shore up South Australia’s shipbuilding capabilities

The South Australian Government is partnering with the United States’ largest shipbuilder HII to accelerate the development of of the state’s defence industry workforce, skills, and supply chain.

Through its newly formed entity in Australia, HII Nuclear Australia Pty Ltd, HII will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the South Australian Government.

Premier Peter Malinauskas and Deputy Premier Susan Close will meet with President of HII Nuclear Australia Michael Lempke at an industry briefing in Adelaide, where the US shipbuilder will share opportunities with more than 100 representatives from South Australian businesses to export their products and services beyond Australian defence projects and win work as part of the Virginia Class Submarine program.

Malinauskas spoke about what the MoU would mean for the state.

“The AUKUS pact provides an enormous opportunity for Australian defence manufacturers to create highly skilled jobs by supplying Australian submarines made in Australia,” he said.

“But it is also an opportunity to create new opportunities to supply Australian skills and technology into supply chains in the US and UK. To do that – we need to make sure we have enough skilled workers.

“HII has a strong track record of delivering long-term workforce development initiatives in the US, investing early to engage primary and high-school aged children in STEM education.

“We are pleased to be partnering with the HII on this endeavour – applying their extensive experience to the enormous economic opportunity we have here in South Australia,” Malinauskas said.

The Memorandum of Understanding with the State Government outlines the shared intent of both parties to embark on a cooperative working arrangement – leveraging HII’s international industry learnings and expertise to prepare South Australia for the major shipbuilding projects on our horizon.

The State Government and HII Nuclear Australia will work with local companies, academia and education providers to develop a skilled workforce and strengthen Australia’s industry capability, including through:

  • Workforce and skills interventions to increase diversity of the STEM pipeline and address critical skills needs
  • Supply chain capability uplift programs
  • Pilot programs with South Australia’s education and training providers for innovative approaches to skills delivery.

A Division of HII, Newport News Shipbuilding is one of only two shipyards capable of designing and building nuclear-powered submarines, including the US Navy’s most advanced attack submarines — the Virginia-class.

HII President, Nuclear and Environmental Services, Michael Lempke spoke further to the announcement.

“This partnership with the South Australian Government is an honour and a significant strategic advantage in HII’s effort to support workforce development aligned with the goals of AUKUS,” he said.

“As the largest employer in many of the communities in which HII operates, we believe that businesses share in the responsibility of developing a skilled workforce.

“In the United States, HII invests $10 million a year in local communities to build the skilled and motivated workforce required to ensure nuclear programs protect the community and environment surrounding the nuclear site,” Lempke said.

This capability will prove invaluable as South Australia embarks on the construction of Australia’s fleet of nuclear-powered submarines (SSN-AUKUS), to be built at the world-class Osborne Naval Shipyard in Adelaide.

The SA Defence Industry Workforce and Skills Report, released last week, details targeted initiatives that build on work already underway to grow the South Australian defence industry workforce.

Building a capability pipeline across education, training and employment, the initiatives are designed to grow an inclusive and skilled workforce, from school, VET and university graduates through to those looking to switch careers, including women, First Nations people and Australian Defence Force veterans.

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