Sovereign shipbuilding powering forward under the National Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise
The National Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise is Australia’s plan to build its naval shipbuilding and sustainment capability to generate industry growth and secure Australian jobs in Defence industry. The enterprise focuses on the sustainable, continuous production of ships, submarines and shipyards in Australia.
In 2019–20 the enterprise was further realised, with the Attack, Hunter, Arafura, Guardian and Cape class programs all advancing at an industrious pace.
Design work on the Attack class submarine is progressing. A number of contracts have been awarded for key equipment, and work has started on a new submarine construction yard at Osborne North in South Australia.
The Hunter class frigate program is on track to commence construction of Ship 1 by the end of 2022. The new shipyard at Osborne South is now complete and Hunter prototyping remains on schedule to commence by late 2020.
Construction of the third Arafura class offshore patrol vessel has commenced, with 10 of these very capable vessels to be built at the Henderson Maritime Precinct in Western Australia. The first two Arafura vessels are being constructed at Osborne South, bridging the gap between the end of the Hobart class air warfare destroyer program and the start of the Hunter program.
The final Hobart class destroyer was commissioned into the fleet in May 2020.
Since commencement of the Pacific Maritime Security Program, the first six of 21 Guardian class patrol boats have been constructed in Western Australia and gifted to Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, Tonga, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Fiji. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated the training of Pacific Island crews and subsequent handover of new boats, construction continues on schedule and three more boats will be ready for handover before the end of 2020. The first of six Cape class patrol boats is also under construction.
On the sustainment front, in 2019 Defence launched Plan Galileo, which will enhance our approach to naval fleet upkeep. Under the plan, four platform-agnostic regional maintenance centres will be established in Sydney, Perth, Darwin and Cairns. A number of upgrade programs are also underway across the in-service fleet, including major upgrades to the Anzac class frigates and Collins class submarines.
The 2020 Force Structure Plan foreshadowed the expansion of the enterprise to include the acquisition or upgrade of 23 classes of maritime vessels. These new programs will be included in an updated Naval Shipbuilding Plan. The updated plan will map out the next phase in the creation of a sovereign naval shipbuilding industry in Australia.