Securing continuous Naval Shipbuilding at Henderson Shipyard in Western Australia

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The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

Media contact

dpm.media@defence.gov.au

02 6277 7800


The Hon Pat Conroy MP

Minister for Defence Industry

Minister for International Development and the Pacific

Media contact

media@defence.gov.au

(02) 6277 7840

General enquiries

minister.conroy@dfat.gov.au

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23 November 2023

The Albanese Government is securing Australia’s shipbuilding capability and investing in Western Australian defence industry through a new strategic partnership between Defence and Austal Limited at Henderson Shipyard.

The Defence Strategic Review observed that there was not enough work to sustain the number of shipbuilders located at Henderson, and the Government agreed to a recommendation to examine industry consolidation options as a matter of priority.

As one of two major shipbuilding hubs in Australia, Henderson is an asset of national importance and pivotal to the build and sustainment of vessels for the Australian Defence Force.

This significant reform will secure Henderson’s future as a vital naval shipbuilding complex with the capacity and capability to meet the evolving needs of our Defence Force.

This initiative will deliver a secure pipeline of work at Henderson, providing industry with greater certainty and helping to secure long-term skilled jobs, infrastructure investment and productivity in the local economy.

Under the strategic shipbuilder pilot, Army’s Landing Craft Medium and Heavy (Littoral Manoeuvre Vessels) will be built at Henderson by Austal, subject to successful commercial negotiations and ongoing performance.

This will accelerate and expand the delivery of vessels that will provide Army with the ability to conduct littoral manoeuvre operations, consistent with the recommendations of the Defence Strategic Review.

Australia’s Birdon Group Pty Ltd has been selected as the preferred designer for the Landing Craft Medium capability. The Commonwealth will work with Birdon to undertake further design maturation to prepare the Landing Craft Medium design, for the construction of 18 vessels at Henderson.

Subject to the Landing Craft Medium project’s performance, the Government also intends to build the Landing Craft Heavy capability through the strategic partnership.

Austal will also deliver two new Evolved Cape-Class Patrol Boats for the Royal Australian Navy at an acquisition cost of $157.1 million. This important capability will replace and significantly enhance Navy’s aging at-sea navigation and seamanship training capability.

To underpin the strategic shipbuilder pilot, Defence and Austal will enter into a Heads of Agreement – which will set out the principles and framework that govern this enduring partnership – and will commence negotiations for a strategic shipbuilder agreement.

A sovereign and enduring naval shipbuilding and sustainment industry at Henderson is central to the Government’s commitment to ensuring continuous naval shipbuilding in Australia and delivering the capabilities needed to keep Australians safe.

Quotes attributable to Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Richard Marles MP:

“The Albanese Government is getting on with the job of delivering the world class, sovereign capabilities our Defence Force needs to keep Australia safe and secure.

“This significant reform will see Henderson become one of Australia’s biggest and most efficient naval shipbuilding complexes that has the capacity and capability to meet the evolving needs of our Defence Force.

“By securing the future of continuous naval shipbuilding at Henderson, industry will have the certainty it needs to invest in the local workforce and contribute to the West Australian economy for decades to come.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Pat Conroy MP: 

“This partnership represents a new approach to Australian shipbuilding and reflects the Albanese Government’s steadfast commitment to delivering a future made in Australia.

“A continuous pipeline of work and an efficient, streamlined approach will not only benefit the delivery of Defence capability but create industry confidence to invest in a highly capable shipbuilding workforce in Western Australia

“Australian industry can compete with the best in the world, but for too long has suffered the boom bust cycle of shipbuilding, undermining productivity and workforce retention. This ends with this strategic partnership.”

Quotes attributable to Western Australian Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Paul Papalia MLA:

“Before WA Labor took office our State’s defence industry had no voice on the national stage.

“Continuous naval ship building in Western Australia is something we have fought for since 2017.

“Western Australia is now recognised as being a key contributor to the nation’s defence strategy.

“The Cook Labor Government will continue its efforts to diversify WA, grow the economy and build a more resilient, sustainable State.”

 

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