Spain’s Navantia will set up office in Perth next year to take advantage of sustainment opportunities, Navantia Australia’s SEA 5000 Supply Chain Manager Greg Keen says.
The ship-making giant, which is bidding on the SEA 5000 Future Frigate program with an adaption of its F-100 air warfare destroyer, is one of the three contenders for the $35 billion Royal Australian Navy contract along with Italy’s Fincantieri and the UK’s BAE Systems.
“We haven’t finally decided where yet but Henderson is a good option. It will most likely be after April but we haven’t decided yet,” Keen said.
“There are sustainment options and opportunities that we want to take advantage of, as opposed to construction.”
Navantia is the designer for Australia’s $9.1b Air Warfare Destroyer program, and is also building two replacement replenishment ships, which Keen said would be delivered to the Federal Government in 2019 and 2020.
There were existing contracts in place on the Hobart Class AWDs but Navantia was ready to support that or any other RAN program.
“We stand by to support the Landing Helicopter Docks, which has existing sustainment contracts in place and when the oilers (replenishment ships) come into commission … we want to make sure we can support the products that Navantia has successfully designed and engineered.”
Keen will spruik Navantia’s supply chain offerings for the SEA 5000 at the CCI WA Defence Conference on November 3.
With growing Australian industry capability a priority for the Federal Government, he said the company was willing to deliver a supply chain that included WA businesses.
And the WA defence industry was well-equipped for sustainment: “They are very prepared and ready to move out today,” he said.
On construction, it’s a question of what the specifications need to be, Keen said.
“We have an existing supply chain on our reference ship but of course the goal is to achieve sovereign capability so we’d be looking to transition to Australia wherever possible.
“We’ve had a couple of WA suppliers really stand up and say we want to be part of that so it’s been great.”
He said the WA defence industry in general was well prepared to contribute to the Federal Government’s rolling construction and sustainment programs.
“I’m biased because I worked with ASC on the submarines; they do a great job over there (Henderson) with the submarines which often come in and require quite quick turnaround,” he said.
“With regards to surface ships, BAE do a great job and they have some existing contracts there. WA is pretty well positioned and has some great industry set up and growing.
“Civmec’s sheds for example, I’ve seen them grow faster than my flowers in my front garden.”
Keen said WA supply chain contenders should think both national and international for opportunities.
“Our primary goal is Australian industry capability growth and our secondary goal dovetails into that, so where there are opportunities for other ships that we’ve got on contract for the RAN, we’d be looking to use the Australian supply chain wherever possible. Of course, they must offer a competitive price and a product that fits with the specification.
“If, for example, we are successful with the Canadian frigates, then we would be looking to support that with some of our Australian supply chain.”
Keen, who understood the Government would announce the successful bidder for SEA 5000 in April, believed Navantia was a low-risk option with proven capability.
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