Australia’s shipbuilding plan confirms need for skilled workers, infrastructure investment

Photo: Australian Department of Defense

Building the Australian Navy’s new fleet of submarines, frigates and offshore patrol vessels will be a complex task and involve up to 15,000 new workers, according to the Naval Shipbuilding Plan released by the department of defense on Tuesday.

The 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.

In addition to the workforce, some AU$1.3 billion will be invested in shipyards in South Australia and Western Australia to make them capable of sustaining new work.

The shipbuilding plan outlines the expansion of Australian shipbuilding industry which will see around $90 billion invested in the rolling acquisition of the new vessels.

According to a RAND Corporation naval shipbuilding report, which the newly released plan quotes, the industry was “in a precarious and uncertain state as a consequence of underinvestment over many years.” In the new plan, the government said it accepted RAND’s findings and is now making the necessary investments to reform the industry and reduce the cost of building naval ships in Australia.

“Work will commence this year on the development of infrastructure at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia. The Henderson Maritime Precinct in WA will also be upgraded,” Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said. “This will encompass construction of new cranes and heavy lift transportation capability, welding stations and upgrades to workshops and storage facilities including new steel framed sheds.”

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