IN a move that has surprised absolutely no-one, the Federal Government has officially awarded the $3.5 billion, 25-year Collins class submarine refit to the Adelaide-based Australian Submarine Corporation.
The refits of each submarine will be conducted on a 12-month cycle in Adelaide under a long-term maintenance agreement to be signed with ASC and the Defence Material Organisation.
The initial duration for the agreement is for 15 years with an option to extend it for another 10 years.
Each submarine refit costs about $80 million and the six submarines will be refit every seven years of their expected 28-year working life.
The move was not surprising because Prime Minister John Howard had made the refitting contract going to Adelaide an election promise.
Up to that point the WA Government had spent about $100,000 on trying to secure the major refit contract for its new, then to be completed, $200 million Australian Maritime Complex at Henderson.
The Government certainly thought it had a winning argument given that the Collins Class subs were all going to be based at Stirling Naval Base.
That $100,000, spent largely during the Court Government’s time, included promotional videos and national newspaper advertising.
The Gallop Government admitted defeat on the major refit battle about the time that Mr Howard made his election promise.
However, a spokesman for State Development Minister Clive Brown said that the Government remained hopeful of securing other defence contracts to the Henderson complex.
Indeed, Austal Ships, in conjunction with Defence Maritime Services, has emerged as the favourite to win the $550 million Armidale Class patrol boat build and support contract.
It is understood the WA Government is also trying to secure a refit contract for the Anzac Class frigate fleet that is also home-ported in the State.
Minor submarine refits and maintenance will be conducted in WA.
WA has a $40 million-a-year con-tract to maintain the submarines.
Several WA firms already support the submarines.
Veem Engineering makes the hull and ballast tank valves, silencers, emergency propulsion systems and the garbage ejectors for the subs.
Austindo, Reads and EJ Electrical are the three electrical contractors licensed to work on the boats.
Other companies such as Westrek and Wiltrading also provide maintenance services.
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