Civmec targets submarine construction

25/09/2015 - 11:58

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Local manufacturer Civmec has announced plans to further diversify its services, with the formation of a new defence business unit and a $30 million spend to expand its Henderson facilities.

Civmec targets submarine construction
Civmec chief executive Pat Tallon with defence general manager Mike Deeks and chairman James Fitzgerald. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Local manufacturer Civmec has announced plans to further diversify its services, with the formation of a new defence business unit and a $30 million spend to expand its Henderson facilities.

The Perth-based construction, fabrication and maintenance company has appointed former Royal Australian Navy commodore Mike Deeks as its first general manager of defence. Mr Deeks will lead the division in its efforts to work with the lead contractor appointed by the Commonwealth to design and build Australia’s defence submarines.

It will become a direct competitor of the already-established Austal, which is also gunning for the Australian submarine contract, and has been successful in building defence vessels for the US navy.

Singapore-listed Civmec will spend $30 million building five new fabrication and assembly halls next to its existing main engineering workshop in Henderson if it is successful in securing new defence contracts.

Chief executive Pat Tallon said the new division wouldn’t detract from Civmec’s current business.

“We intend to heavily leverage off the work we’ve done in the past few years and bring this into our new division and we believe we have all the capabilities that are required to do so,” Mr Tallon said.

“The most notable opportunity right now is the multi-billion dollar submarine build that is a lot of talk for everybody, so that’s the first thing that we would target – to be the in-country builder for whoever is awarded that contract.

“We are also targeting other work within the defence sector including maintenance and in-service support of Australian frigates, building of future ships, defence infrastructure and construction.

“We are already actively bidding some work across Australia in that construction area so we are very confident that we’ll be successful in the coming months and we’ll pick up some work there, bearing in mind that we will not be detracting from our current business.”

Chairman James Fitzgerald said it was a massive opportunity not just for Civmec but also for the state.

“It has the potential to create up to 1,000 new jobs and bring a major new industry to Western Australia,” he said.

Civmec’s Henderson facilities have access to adjacent deepwater port facilities, including heavy-lift transport systems and a 100m by 44m floating dock with a lifting and transfer capacity of 4,600 tonnes.

Fleet Base West – the home of Australia’s submarine force and half of the Australian frigate fleet – is at Garden Island, just 10 kilometres across the water from the Henderson facilities.

Mr Deeks said the location made it the ideal site for the construction and maintenance of the future submarines, including from a strategic point of view,  given WA's position on the Indian Ocean.

It follows media reports this morning that Austal was willing to buy a shipyard in South Australia if it would increase its chances of winning the government’s submarine contract.

When asked if Civmec would consider the same move if it meant they would be awarded the work Mr Tallon said that, if the opportunity arose, the company would not be afraid to expand its geological footprint.

Civmec shares were unchanged at 40 cents each at midday.

 

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