31/01/2020 - 15:31

WA ramps up for naval build

31/01/2020 - 15:31

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Work on the first Henderson-built offshore patrol vessel will get under way within weeks, part of a 12-ship program worth $2 billion headed by German business Luerssen and local partner Civmec.

WA ramps up for naval build
Jens Nielsen is confident Luerssen will be building ships in the WA market long term. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

Work on the first Henderson-built offshore patrol vessel will get under way within weeks, part of a 12-ship program worth $2 billion headed by German business Luerssen and local partner Civmec.

Luerssen began construction of the first Arafura Class vessel in Adelaide in November 2018.

Under the deal with the Department of Defence, the third vessel onwards was to be built in Western Australia. 

Work will begin in March.

Luerssen Australia chief executive Jens Nielsen told Business News the partners had a good supplier base in WA.

“When we look at the overall program, where we have to deliver 12 ships … in WA we’ll have around 40 per cent of Australian Industry Capability content,” he said.

The national target was 60 per cent, he said, with the company currently overachieving that level.

Contractors for the Arafura Class build include BRE engineering, CNW, Penkse Engines, L3 and SAAB.

Mr Nielsen said the company had longer-term plans in WA beyond the life of the contract, which is expected to end by 2030.

That included through a jont venture with Civmec, the Australian Maritime Shipbuilding and Export Group.

“We’re interested in other derivatives covering the needs of the Australian navy,” he said.

“There have been statements from federal government officials that SEA1905 (Minehunter) will come out of Henderson here.

“We’re very well suited with the capabilities of our design.

“We’re also looking at export opportunities coming out of Henderson.

“There are various countries in this region interested to get offshore patrol vessel class ships, and that's something we'd like to tender on.

“We’re not looking at the civilian market, more looking at the defence market.

“On the civilian market we would definitely not be competitive, it's a different business, not our focus.”

Despite the common concern that WA labour is too expensive for manufacturing, Mr Nielsen said that could be compensated through efficiency and higher productivity.

Civmec is very innovative, focused on lean, focused on anything that comes out of industry 4.0,” he said.

Examples of industry 4.0 techniques to be used for the Arafura Class were barcoding in the yard and machines that could operate directly off design data, with no need for programming, he said.

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