Address at Cape-Class Vessel acceptance Henderson, Western Australia

Release details

Release type

Related ministers and contacts

The Hon Peter Dutton MP

Minister for Defence

Media contact

Defence Media:

Release content

25 March 2022

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Great to be back in WA after a long time.

Thank you very much for the hospitality. Thank you very much to Austal. Paddy, thank you very much for your leadership.

To you and to John, to all of the board, and to your senior leadership team, thank you very much for the way in which you’ve partnered with us over a long period of time, but including most recently in relation to the two boats sitting behind us.

There’s been a lot of difficulty in the supply chain, working with partners, sourcing equipment, dealing with the realities of COVID for many countries around the world, and for WA and for the rest of the country it’s been no exception.

So the work that you have been able to do together with us we appreciate very much and I think it’s resulted in an unbelievable product as we have just seen demonstrated on the screen there.

I would like to acknowledge the Chief of Navy, Mike Noonan, also for his leadership, and certainly with Wendy, the support that you provide Wendy, with our partners has resulted in incredible outcomes and many more to come.

So thank you both very much for your work, the team that you lead, all of those people from the department, those men and women in uniform today and to those who have served in our uniform, I want to say thank you very much for your service.

Matt, thank you very much for your welcome to country as well, and I’m very pleased, very proud, to be here today for the handover of what is particular evolved Cape-class.

The reality is we have very uncertain times, as was alluded to before. Twelve or 18 months ago nobody was thinking there would be a war in the Ukraine or in Europe, and there’s great uncertainty about what’s happening in the Indo-Pacific.

We’re preparing for defences of our country in a way that we haven’t done since the Second World War and so the Australian public, I think, have a different opinion of what the horizon might look like, and what we might face into the future and we should be realistic about that threat.

As I’ve said on many occasions previously, Australia needs to be in a position of strength, not weakness, to deter any act of aggression towards us or towards countries in our region or indeed towards our allies.

So, I think they will look afresh at the capability of the vessel that we see behind us and the five that will follow her. This vessel, known as Cape Otway, will provide incredible capability, as was pointed out before, for 32 crew as opposed to the current 21 - so additional facilities and capabilities onboard - and it will provide additional capabilities in terms of the collections, the way in which it will interact with underwater vessels, unmanned vessels. The technologies that we will embrace, particularly the weapon systems as we move forward and incorporate into these platforms, I think you can expect to see a lot more and the Chief of Navy and I were speaking about some of this on the way to Perth this morning.

As you know, the Prime Minister was here in WA only a week ago, announcing our multimillion-dollar commitment, up to $4.3 billion, to be spent at Henderson. It shows our commitment, along with the undertakings that we’ve got in the Naval shipbuilding enterprise at the moment.

This program is worth $340 million to deliver the enhanced Cape-class, employing something like 550 people and the commitment that we have to WA, to shipbuilding, to Austal, to our partners in the industry otherwise, I think is evidenced by those commitments, those announcements, and there will be more to come because we do need to enhance our capabilities. We do need to learn from the lessons of what’s worked and what hasn’t worked in the Cape-class and the Guardian-class and in each generation, each iteration [inaudible].

I want to thank Austal for their reliability, for their partnership, and they will be a very strong partner into the future. But from the Australian Government perspective, we do want to see more by way of capability to be deployed [inaudible] short-range on this boat is impressive and means that we can push forward with other assets as well. The use of the launching pad on the back for maybe not propelled, but maybe vertical launch is a feature into the future. We have had significant undertakings with Boeing about what that might look like and other industry partners.

So thank you very much. I’m really pleased to be here for the handover today. I want to pay tribute to the crew and to those who have been involved in maritime operations for a long period of time [inaudible] boats on the horizon.

It’s not that long ago that as a country we lost control of our maritime borders. We’ve been able to restore that and stare down people-smuggling activities, but we know [inaudible] significant people movements across Afghanistan, out of Europe, in Asia at the moment, and we need to deal with that continuing threat and so the capability that’s increasing on this vessel will be utilised in our nation’s best interests.

So, thank you all very much for your involvement. In particular to the industry partners, I want to say thank you for your perseverance, for the way in which you have engaged over COVID, your employment of apprentices, your investment back into your own businesses and supply chains, providing those assurances; that’s all incredibly valuable to us, and we’re very grateful for the partnership. Thank you very much.


Other related releases