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Builders making edge

EACH of WA’s Cockburn Sound shipbuilders is clear on what gives them the edge in a fast growing domestic and international industry.

All talk about smart management, focused marketing, reputation and efficient delivery, but each also boasts at least one technological advantage.

Tenix Defence Marine Division, which supports the Australian defence forces, is also a major Australian designer and builder of paramilitary vessels and specialist craft.

The search and rescue vessel it has handed over today is just one from a six-vessel contract, to supply two 56-metre and four 35-metre craft to The Philippines Coast Guard.

While the Tenix Defence Marine portfolio also includes tugs, ferries, fishing vessels, catamarans and offshore support vessels, repair and maintenance also forms a key part of the division’s business.

Tenix Defence Marine general manager Jonathan Smith said the division’s major advantage over competitors was its ship-lift and turntable arrangement, that could cater for 8,000 tonne vessels.

He said the ship-lift is close to, if not the, largest in the southern hemisphere.

Tenix is competing against Austal Limited and Australian Defence Industries in a tender bid to supply Armidale class patrol boats to the Royal Australian Navy, as replacement for 15 Fremantle class vessels.

This contract includes 15 years’ support work and would mean expansion and site development work, affording Tenix the chance to extend to a range of other projects.

Austal, which believes some of its edge comes from its use of the semi swath hull form and its ride control system development, is also considering expansion.

Each of Austal’s four divisions is boasting at least two entries, and Austal has secured additional land north of its Cockburn Sound shipyard.

Of the three WA divisions, Oceanfast has four luxury motor yachts on order, Image Marine is working on a passenger catamaran for Norway and a harbour cruiser for Hong Kong, and Austal Ships is filling two catamaran orders – one for an 86-metre vehicle-passenger vessel and the other for a 66-metre passenger carrier.

WaveMaster International managing director Christopher Gerrard said his company’s use of Maritime Dynamics’ monohull ride control systems and WaveMaster’s welding technology that extended hull life were in part responsible for the recent P&O Australia Resorts contract.

The company won the 35-metre transfer vessel contract with P&O earlier this month, and another order just last week, from Italy, for a 38-metre high-performance passenger ferry.

“There is more to come,” Mr Gerrard said.

Orders for two more ferries, two luxury motor yachts and a series of offshore crew and supply vessels are in the final stages of completion, and two current contracts include options for repeat vessels.

“It’s very possible to have a situation this year where we are totally committed in terms of our capacity,” Mr Gerrard said.

“Our level of international enquiries for new ships is incredibly buoyant at present.”

WaveMaster production design manager Steve Chapple said the company developed some design and drawing software and production methods and equipment.

“Our software is one of the many reasons we are able to compete on the international market,” he said.

WaveMaster will also introduce new computer-controlled machinery, however, citing confidentiality, is coy about explaining just what.

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