The nation’s shipyards will receive $1.3 billion for infrastructure improvements to sustain the Australian shipbuilding industry, as outlined in the Australian Government’s Naval Shipbuilding Plan.

The Federal Government has released Australia’s first Naval Shipbuilding Plan, outlining the nation’s largest ever program of naval shipbuilding and sustainment.

The plan includes more than $1.3 billion in funding to develop vital infrastructure in the nation’s shipyards so that the Navy’s next generation of naval vessels can be built in Australia.

The Naval Shipbuilding Plan will end the boom-bust cycle that has afflicted the industry for many years, providing certainty for local businesses and shipbuilding workers.

The Federal Government is investing around $90 billion in the rolling acquisition of new submarines and the continuous build of major ships such as future frigates, as well as minor naval vessels.

This will ensure delivery of these modern defence capabilities set out in the 2016 Defence White Paper, creating thousands of jobs and securing the naval shipbuilding and sustainment industry for future generations of Australians.

In total, the Government will invest more than $1.3 billion to modernise construction shipyards in South Australia and Western Australia.

Work will commence in 2017 on the development of infrastructure at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia. The Henderson Maritime Precinct in Western Australia will also be upgraded.

This will include construction of new cranes and heavy lift transportation capability, welding stations and upgrades to workshops and storage facilities such as new steel framed sheds.

The Centre for Defence Industry Capability, opened by the Government in December 2016, is based in Adelaide and has a national presence. The Centre will play a critical role in developing the national supply chains to support the naval shipbuilding programs.

Modern shipbuilding facilities and processes will play an important role in the transformation of Australia’s naval shipbuilding industry.

The naval shipbuilding workforce is expected to grow to around 5,200 workers by the mid to late 2020s, with more than double this number of workers in sustainment activities and throughout supply chains across Australia.

The Naval Shipbuilding College, announced on 24 March 2017, will begin operation in early 2018, working with existing education centres to expand and develop the pool of available skilled workers to meet the growing demand.

Engineers Australia welcomed the release of the Government’s largest naval shipbuilding plan and its acknowledgement that engineers will play a critical role in its success.

The association’s defence spokesperson Greg Walters said the huge expansion of the Navy’s fleet and massive infrastructure upgrades will revitalise the nation’s engineering capability.

“We would highlight it’s not just about the trade jobs and physical construction of the fleet but a sustainable long-term building development program where engineers will play a crucial role at both the start of production in design – through delivery and beyond,” Mr Waters said.         

“Engineers Australia has long argued that defence manufacturing plays a critical role in driving our domestic manufacturing industry and we would welcome working with Government on its strategic workforce plan around this.”

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