Austal Ships takes out the top honours

AUSTAL Ships stole the show at the WA Industry and Export Awards, winning the Premier’s Award for Excellence, the Large Manufacturers Export Award and the WA Design Award.

An Austal Ships spokesperson said the company won the WA Design Award for its “green ship”, the GT AE86 Villum Clausen, an 86-metre gas turbine Auto Express ferry.

The ferry set a new benchmark in the fast ferry industry recently by smashing the 24-hour distance-speed record for a commercial passenger vessel, but its main achievement has been its environmental performance.

The ferry has met the world’s most stringent environmental standards – proving that the protection of the planet and commercial imperatives can co-exist.

“The GT AE86 also features numerous design and engineering innovations and sets a lot of new benchmarks in the fast ferry industry,” the spokesperson said.

“The ferry was originally designed for the Denmark market. Europe is our biggest market but we are making a name for ourselves in South America, the Middle East, the Asia Pacific region and Greece.

“We recently sold $140 million worth of ferries to the Greek Isles.”

Austal Ships has also filled its first Commonwealth contract for 38 metre patrol boats for the Australian Customs Service.

The Large Manufacturers Export Award category applied to companies valued in excess of $20 million.

Due to the breadth of its success in offshore markets, Austal Ships was a clear winner.

The company is based in Henderson, south of Perth, and has grown tremendously since commencing operations in 1988 with only 40 staff.

It is considered a world leader in aluminium shipbuilding, and has 1,300 staff.

Its only major Australian competitor is Tasmania-based Incat.

During the past five years, Austal Ships has generated approximately $1 billion in exports for Australia and in 1999 captured almost one quarter of global fast ferry sales.

The company’s customised high performance 25 to 125 metre vessels, high-speed ferries, patrol craft, “boutique” vessels and fast freight vessels are expected to generate more than $350 million in annual sales within the next three years.

Austal Ships managing director Bob McKinnon said human resources was the company’s major strength.

“Our sales people are also naval architects, engineers and from shipping operator backgrounds – specialists who help customers develop the ship they need,” Mr McKinnon said.

“We are never satisfied to rest on achievements – we always want to do better.”


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