AUSTRALIA’S largest defence contract since WWII has been awarded to French shipbuilder DCNS to carry out at a high-tech port in South Australia.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull today announced that DCNS had won the AUD$50 billion project to build 12 submarines in Adelaide, South Australia.
DCNS proposed its Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A design for the decades-long project.
“The French offer meets all the capability needs of Australia,” Prime Minister Turnbull said at the announcement from Techport Australia, a naval shipyard in the capital city of Adelaide.
The subs announcement not only brings to rest years of speculation on the massive defence contract, but also helps secure Australia’s transition into an advanced manufacturing nation.
“The submarine project will transition us to a 21st century economy,” Prime Minister Turnbull said.
Australian Minister of Defence Marise Payne said the submarines were vital to Australia’s security as a maritime-based trading nation.
The submarine build also secures South Australia’s position as the naval manufacturing base of Australia.
Last week the Australian government announced the first of the 12 Offshore Patrol Vessels will be built in Adelaide, on top of the nine Future Frigates already announced.
The Australian government also recently established the Centre for Defence Industry Capability (CDIC) in South Australia.
The reinforcement of a defence industry comes at a crucial time for South Australia as the state transitions from automotive manufacturing at the General Motors Holden plant to advanced manufacturing and knowledge-based industries.
South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill told an automotive industry seminar that the state would work with the French shipbuilders to determine how local suppliers could become part of the supply chain.
South Australian Minister for Automotive Transformation Kyam Maher said he would look to federal programs initially set up to help Holden workers learn new skills to help the workers gain entry into new shipbuilding opportunities.
“The high-tech shipbuilding industry will help transform South Australia’s economy in the same way automotive manufacturing did more than five decade ago,” said Maher.
Professor John Spoehr, the director of the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute at Flinders University, says the submarine project is vital to the future of South Australia’s economic revival.
“The submarine project will help drive the transformation of South Australia’s advanced manufacturing industry,” Prof Spoehr said. “A project of this scale and complexity will drive innovation throughout the economy for decades to come.”