The Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull released Australia’s first Naval Shipbuilding Plan last Tuesday, outlining the country’s largest shipbuilding and sustainment program with $970 million of investments.

The funds are set to develop infrastructure in Australia’s shipyards so the government can build its next generation of naval vessels in Australia, the government said. This is intended to “end the boom-bust cycle that has afflicted the industry for many years, providing certainty for local businesses and shipbuilding workers.”

Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Australian Government.
Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Australian Government.

Work will begin in 2017 on the development of infrastructure at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia while the Henderson Maritime Precinct in Western Australia will also be upgraded, the Prime Minister’s office said. This will include construction of new cranes, heavy lift transportation capability, welding stations, and upgrades to workshops and storage facilities including new steel framed sheds.

The government is also investing about $67 billion in the rolling acquisition of new submarines and the continuous build of major ships like future frigates and minor naval vessels, the announcement said,

This plan aims to ensure delivery of those new naval capabilities as set out in a 2016 Defence White Paper as well as create thousands of jobs and secure the naval shipbuilding and sustainment industry going into the future.

“The Government is delivering on its unwavering commitment to both national security and economic prosperity through the continuous building of naval vessels in Australia, while also strengthening the nation’s advanced manufacturing industrial base,” the Prime Minister’s office said in a statement.

Under this plan the Australian naval shipbuilding workforce is expected to grow to about 5,200 workers by the mid- to late-2020s. Over double that will also work in sustainment activities and throughout supply chains in the country, the government said.

The 2016 Defence White Paper called for Australia to acquire 12 new DCNS Shoftfin Barracuda 1A submarines, doubling the fleet; enhancements of the current Collins-class submarine fleet through the late 2030s; 12 major surface combatants in three Hobart-class air warfare destroyers with Aegis systems and nine future frigates optimized for anti-submarine warfare; and 12 new offshore patrol vessels.

The shipbuilding plan makes this a long term rolling acquisition with continuous builds extending for decades.

The first new submarine is set to start construction in 2022-23 and enter service in the early 2030s. Construction is expected to extend into the late 2040s with the final boat entering service by the early 2050s.

Australia selected France’s DCNS as the international partner for a future submarine project to follow the Collins-class replacements already planned. Australia and DCNS signed a contract in September to begin the design phase for this future submarine project. Lockheed Martin [LMT] was also selected as the combat system integrator for the submarines.