Ian McPhedran, The Advertiser
9 September 2015
Up to 50,000 skilled Australian workers will be available to build the navy’s future submarines and other warships, according to German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS).
The company’s global chairman Dr Hans Atzpodien and Australian chairman Dr John White today described the submarine project as a “wonderful opportunity” for Australian manufacturing and the German company said it would be keen to tap into the pool.
TKMS is pushing hard to win the $20 billion contract to build up to 12 4000 tonne submarines in Australia with the first boat to be delivered around 2025.
It is engaged in a competitive evaluation process until November with Japanese and French submarine builders.
“This is a major, complex Australian project and the idea …. of not doing it in Australia is not a necessary idea,” Dr White said.
“This is a magnificent, national, hi-tech infrastructure project. It seems like a wonderful opportunity.”
The company is offering flexible build options in Australia and has identified a green field site at Techport in Port Adelaide as the likely location should it win the job.
Dr White said the firm’s plan assumed that the government would not sell ASC and its submarine “world class” facilities in Adelaide.
He identified the Henderson shipbuilding facility near Perth as well as Williamstown in Melbourne and Newcastle as other module hubs.
The company would be happy to buy or lease facilities for the build.
TKMS has identified 30,000 automotive, 10,000 North West Shelf and up to 10,000 LNG workers who will soon be out of work as the backbone of future shipbuilding.
Many of them were engaged in very high quality work for the offshore energy sector.
“We have very good tradespeople in Australia who are very flexible and innovative if you manage them,” Dr White said.
“Skilled labour is available in Australia in abundance, and there are not enough jobs over the next three to five years.”
Dr White said it was a myth that Australia couldn’t manage all the future shipbuilding and during the 1990s Australia successfully built 10 frigates, six submarines and numerous smaller ships.
TKMS said whether the final competition was between two firms or just a single company would have little impact on price.
“The process is not that much about price it is about many other things,” Dr Atzpodien said.
TKMS stressed that its bid would be “fixed price” and would place all the risk with the company and not taxpayers. It would begin construction three years after selection and would have the first boat ready by 2025.
Dr Atzpodien said the company stood by its 2014 written quote of $20 billion for 12 boats with more than 70 per cent spent in Australia.
“A group like ours has deep pockets and if we promise to do something we have to deliver,” he said.
TKMS said it would also seek export orders for an Australian built 4000-tonne boat in countries such as Canada.