Cairns businesses to build new Army watercraft

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Related ministers and contacts

Senator the Hon Marise Payne

Acting Minister for Defence

Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC

Minister for Defence

The Hon Melissa Price MP

Minister for Defence Industry

Minister for Science and Technology

The Hon Warren Entsch MP

Member for Leichhardt

Media contacts

Nicky Hamer (Minister Reynolds’ Office): +61 437 989 927
Ben Spencer (Minister Price’s office): +61 412 754 310
Defence Media:

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24 March 2021

  • Issued by Senator the Hon Marise Payne, Acting Defence Minister 
  • Joint media release: Melissa Price, Minister for Defence Industry and Warren Entsch, Member for Leichhardt

Two North Queensland businesses will build seven new watercraft as part of the Morrison Government’s commitment to strengthening the Australian Army’s amphibious capability.

The vessels, which will be built locally in Cairns, will assist Army amphibious operations and support systems.

Acting Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne said the watercraft will replace Army’s water safety and inshore hydrographic capability.

“The vessels will provide dedicated and agile watercraft for survey, safety, planning and Command and Control,” Minister Payne said.

“These important watercraft will enable the Army to safely conduct a range of amphibious training activities and operations, which is a critical capability for the ADF.

“Today’s announcement is part of the Morrison Government’s commitment to maximising Australian industry involvement through our unprecedented $270 billion investment in defence capability over the next decade, which is creating local jobs right across Australia.”

Tropical Reef Shipyards and BME NQ will manufacture the 7.5 metre vessels, and provide spares and trailers, as well as operator and maintainer training.

The watercraft will be based on a Chris Tucker Marine Design product, an Australian Naval Architect firm, at a cost of $4.05 million.

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said building the Australian-designed boats in Cairns was a win under the Morrison Government’s Naval Shipbuilding Plan.

“Tropical Reef Shipyard is a key defence industry partner and is used extensively by the Royal Australian Navy for maintenance and modification services on our Leeuwin Class Hydrographic ships and Paluma Class Survey Motor boats,” Minister Price said.

“Australian businesses will grow our marine manufacturing and maintenance capacity, showing once again that we are backing local businesses and supporting local jobs.”

Member for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch said this is a great outcome for Cairns to support crucial Army capability, and is testament to the strong marine industry in North Queensland.

“I’m pleased that Cairns will play a crucial role in strengthening Army’s amphibious capability,” Mr Entsch said.

“The award of this contract provides an excellent growth opportunity for these Cairns-based businesses. BME NQ currently employ 17 staff and will now bring on an additional six employees, including an apprentice, to work on the watercraft.

“This announcement is another positive step towards building on Cairns manufacturing, defence and marine maintenance capabilities.”

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