Press Conference at Osborne

15 Nov 2018 Transcipt


Press conference audio

15 November 2018

SUBJECTS: New shipbuilding at Osborne

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Thank you very much, Mark Hammond, to you as the representative of the Chief of the Navy, as the deputy Chief of the Navy; to my ministerial colleague David Pisoni; her Excellency Anna Prinz, the German Ambassador; Peter Luerssen and [inaudible] representing Luerssen as chief executive officer and chairman of Luerssen Australia; Peter Croser representing Department of Defence; Stuart Whiley from the ASC; Steve Johnson, the head of shipbuilding in the Department of Defence.

Ladies and gentlemen, people who work on the- for the ASC who will be building these offshore patrol vessels, it’s a very, very exciting day for South Australia but also for Australia. Driving in this morning - albeit late, I’m sorry, I was caught in traffic on Grand Junction Road - it was tremendous to see four cranes, at least, that I could see, over the Osborne Naval Shipyard. And for those of you who have been to Osborne many times, you would have noticed that the sign out the front of the Osborne Naval Shipyard is no longer Techport; it’s now the Osborne Naval Shipyard owned by the Australian Government through the Australian Naval Infrastructure.

So, we’re making tremendous progress – this is the third class of ships that I’ve been associated with the Navy for. The Guardian-class, the small patrol boats being built at Henderson by Austal and they’re into their sixth of those 21 vessels. Five are nearing completion and they’ve started the sixth. The Arafura-class that Mark Hammond has announced today, the first of 12 offshore patrol vessels. The first two to be built here at Osborne starting today by the ASC working with Luerssen, the next 10 to be built at Henderson by Civmec with Luerssen under a new joint venture called AMSEG, which is a joint venture of Civmec and Luerssen. And of course the Hunter-class, the nine anti-submarine warfare frigates, which will be built here at Osborne starting in 2020 and the work for which had already started with the ASC and with BAE, where ASC will be the subsidiary of BAE building those nine anti-submarine warfare frigates.

So there’s only one to go. I know the name of the submarine class but I’m not allowed to say what it is. The Chief of Navy would get extremely upset. The Chief of Navy doesn’t welcome my suggestions for the names of the vessels apparently that’s a very closely guarded right of the Chief of the Navy. So I won’t reveal the submarine class, not even under torture or pressure from anybody here. But it will be a- it’s a great name and I look forward to announcing that when we finally sign the Strategic Partnering Agreement with Naval Group.

So, thank you very much for having me here this morning. As I said, it’s a great day. Today marks the construction of significant 80 metre longships, with substantial capability in terms of endurance and range, that are replacing vessels that are currently working for the Navy patrolling and controlling our northern borders with the other platforms in the Navy. It’ll have weapons - it’s a weaponised vessel, but not a heavily weaponised vessel, as you would expect and I hope, I believe it would possible, that it will become an export product throughout the Indo-Pacific as we hone our skills here at Osborne and at Henderson. Eventually these offshore patrol vessels will become an export product, continuing to grow our naval shipbuilding industry.

The last two-and-a-half years have been a very exciting and transformative time in Australian shipbuilding. We could have been down here at Osborne - although probably politicians wouldn’t have come if there was tumbleweed blowing through the streets of Osborne because we were looking at closing down the shipyard. That could have been the future of Osborne. We could have had the end of the air warfare destroyers, had no more orders for ships or for submarines. The Collins-class sustainment and maintenance would have continued, but we would have been looking at how we were going to close down this yard, take down these magnificent sheds. We certainly wouldn’t have been talking about investment in new infrastructure, new research and development, new employees.

A thousand people will work directly or indirectly on the offshore patrol vessels contract down here at Osborne and at Henderson. The future of the shipbuilding, submarine building, sustainment and maintenance, and exports out of Australia is very bright. Rather than closing down this shipyard, as you can see we are building a new shipyard for surface platforms just to my right, which is well and truly advanced, and I had the pleasure of turning the first sod with Mathias Cormann only a year or so ago, and in about a month I will turn the first sod on the submarine yard at Osborne north, which when it’s finished will be bigger than the Adelaide Oval Stadium.

So, the investment here in Adelaide, in my home state, is something that’s quite transformative. It’s one of the largest investments in shipbuilding and submarine building in the world right now. So, we all have the great privilege of being associated with it. It’s very exciting for all of us. I’m sure it’s a dream come true to many of you. For the workers of the ASC, who will be working with Luerssen, it secures their future for decades into the future. We can now say – grandparents, parents – can now say to their grandchildren, to their children, that they should be pursuing careers in submarine building, shipbuilding, sustainment and maintenance, project management, naval engineering, welding, electronic activities, combat system integration, because that is the future for our great country.

So, thank you very much for the opportunity to be the Minister for the last two-and-a-half years, to get a lot of this work underway, and I’m looking forward to doing whatever’s required to be done to start the process of the offshore patrol vessels this morning. Thank you very much.