By Robyn Molloy

Premier Mark McGowan says the defence sector is set to amp up at the Australian Marine Complex’s Common User Facility with multiple shipbuilding projects now underway or planned in coming years.

McGowan, who was speaking at Henderson-based CUF’s 15th anniversary celebration on Friday, said defence was only one aspect of the facility’s success with oil and gas projects and boat building also major players in driving a $2.5 billion contribution to the local economy since it opened in 2003.  

The facility – owned by the State Government but run by private company AMC Management – is the only one in the country that uses common user principles for its facilities which include a floating dock, fabrication hall, workshops, warehouses and wharves.

“Over the years it’s done a lot of things,” McGowan said.

“The defence component of the CUF has been an enormously successful part of it and an important component of it and I can only see that growing in the future with the new navy builds going on in Australia that will no doubt require significant sustainment and significant component of builds here in WA.

“Also, with the offshore patrol vessels being built here by Civmec and Luerssen, which will no doubt use the CUF and there is also the existing patrol boat program.”

McGowan said projects relating to the oil and gas sector had helped create many of the 40,000 jobs at the CUF since it opened.

“We are trying to enhance that with our LNG taskforce to make sure we get more benefits out of it.

“It has been a major part of the WA success story over the last 40 years but particularly the past 10 it has grown exponentially and maximising local content for oil and gas out of this facility has been a major aim of the management here and successive state governments.”

Boat building, including luxury boats, were also a major part, McGowan told invited guests.

“They are remarkable bits of equipment and are sold around the world, the ferries for other countries and Australia and even one I recall, maybe pre-CUF, was Greg Norman’s boat. His boat was part of the broader AMC concept that showed WA industry was capable of doing anything in that luxury maritime and ferry building area.”

AMC Management General Manager Jonathon Smith said things were quiet at CUF on the day of the celebration, compared with at the peak of the mining book when up to 2000 workers would arrive daily.

Among the projects are the Badgingarra wind farm turbines and associated equipment, which arrived from overseas several months ago on six fully loaded ships.

They required 60,000sq m of laydown area and moving the 75-metre blades has set a road transport record for the CUF.

“They are taking them up three at a time, so they can do a full erection of the turbine hubs as soon as they arrive,” Smith said.

Current projects include a ship unloader, which is under construction by Civmec in the main fabrication hall for major contractor Sandvik and bound for Rio Tinto’s Weipa mine in QLD.

Navy projects teams are using office space while ships’ crews are using the amenities building, which has a fully fitted out galley.

“Further around is Quadrant Energy, the Varanus Island compression modules staged for commissioning prior to mobilisation to the island,” Smith said.

“On the wharf HMAS Ballarat is in for maintenance by Naval Ship Management, another long-time user, who have embraced the principals of common user infrastructure.

A tug company was servicing its ships, while offshore supply ship Pacific Vixen was loading materials for an overseas project.

“This is quiet compared with when Chevron oil and gas projects for Gorgon and Wheatstone were in full operation,” Smith said.

“All of the facility was being used. They were some very impressive times with some 2000 people coming through the gate every day to work on various elements of those projects.”

Australian Marine Complex is a valued CCI member. CCI membership gives you access to a highly-integrated range of business solutions, including employee and industrial relations, human resources, workplace consulting and international trade services. Learn more about our membership packages here.