Monday, June 24, 2024

SA Govt floats new submarine supply chain program

SA Premier, Peter Malinauskas, has announced a partnership with America’s largest shipbuilder, HII, to help South Australian companies enter the global supply chain for nuclear-powered submarines.

The Premier announced the program while touring HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding division in Virginia in the United States, where the defence giant builds Virginia Class submarines.

The agreement connects the South Australian Government to HII’s Supplier Capability Uplift Program, enabling selected SA suppliers to participate in the nuclear-powered conventionally armed submarine supply chain.

“I want to ensure South Australian suppliers have a head start in competing to enter the global supply chain for nuclear-powered submarines,” said the Premier.

“Nuclear-powered submarines are the most complex machines in the world and building these submarines requires highly technical skills and capabilities.

“HII is America’s largest shipbuilder and they are at the global forefront of this technology.

“Through this program, we are making a highly strategic investment that will help to open avenues and opportunities for South Australian suppliers to compete for work on the Virginia Class Submarine Program, and ultimately the AUKUS program,” he said.

Given the highly specialised and technical nature of the work to build Virginia Class submarines, participating companies will be evaluated by HII using the same requirements applied to its existing U.S. suppliers, the Premier said.

HII will undertake reviews of South Australian companies that provide design and engineering, equipment integration, advanced manufacturing, welding, fabrication, and quality services.

On completion of the review process, participating companies will receive a tailored report outlining recommendations for capability development and improvement activities required to compete for work on the Virginia Class Submarine Program.

Participating SA businesses will be able to apply for matched funding to address the recommendations arising from their review report.

“AUKUS represents a once-in-a-generation economic opportunity for our state, but only if we seize it,” said Mr Malinauskas.

“By doing the hard work now, we can ensure South Australia is well-placed to lift our economic complexity for decades to come.”

Information gathered through the program will further support the SA Government’s industry development activities which aim to enable more South Australian companies to compete for work in international supply chains. This means they could potentially enter the supply chain for the Virginia Class, the Premier said.

“Ultimately it is the goal of the program to have these South Australian companies positioned to enter the supply chain for the AUKUS nuclear-powered submarines to be built at Osborne in Adelaide.”

The partnership follows the Government signing a Memorandum of Understanding with HII Nuclear Australia Pty Ltd in November last year.

“It was an honour to see Premier Malinauskas again, this time in the United States, and demonstrate HII’s long history of workforce development expertise,” said Michael Lempke, lead of HII’s Australian business.

“We look forward to continuing our commitment to help address critical skills needs, education and training programs, and supply chain capability in Australia as they create the infrastructure necessary for building and sustaining nuclear-powered submarines.”

The MoU outlined a shared intent of both parties to embark on a cooperative working arrangement – leveraging HII’s international industry expertise to prepare South Australia for the major shipbuilding projects on our horizon.

The MOU set out the shared intent of each party towards developing a skilled Australian workforce and strengthening Australia’s industry capability.

Australian Submarine Agency (ASA) Director-General, VADM Jonathan Mead also welcomed the new program, which he said complements national ASA-led initiatives to uplift the submarine industrial workforce and to support Australian industries’ access to the trilateral supply chain.

“Australian state and federal governments, working together with industry, are expanding Australia’s industrial capacity to produce and sustain nuclear-powered submarines into the future, which will also contribute to building our collective resilience,” he said.

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