Although an official announcement has still not been made, Spanish newspapers reported that the Australian Department of Defence has chosen Spanish shipbuilder Navantia as the “preferred bidder” for the construction of two replenishment ships.
This news sparked some outrage in Australia as the government opposition criticized Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull who promised to spend every “defence dollar” possible at home.
Australian shipbuilders, however, do not have the capacities to build such large ships, Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne said. She did add that some $100 million of Australian work on the ships would be left, AAP reported.
The two new replenishment vessels are expected to be introduced into service by the early 2020s. They will replace the replenishment oiler HMAS Success and the HMAS Sirius which carries fuel only.
The Australian Defence White Paper says that a third replenishment or additional logistics vessel similar to HMAS Choules would follow in the late 2020s.
Australian Department of Defense has appropriated $1bn – $2bn for the first two replenishment ships with all additional work.
The Spanish shipbuilder competed with South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering in this bid.