Max Blenkin | Canberra
German shipbuilder Lürssen and its Australian industry partners are offering scholarships to encourage young people to embark on a career in the soon to boom shipbuilding sector.
The 12 scholarships, worth $10,000 each per year, will be offered from next year, subject to Lürssen winning the deal to build the Navy’s 12 new offshore patrol vessels under project SEA 1180.
This project, worth up to $4 billion, will be the first of the government’s shipbuilding ventures to produce a new vessel for the Australian navy, with work set to start next year.
A decision on which of the three contenders – Lürssen, fellow German shipbuilder Fassmer and Damen of the Netherlands – will win is expected soon, possibly soon after the Pacific 2017 conference in Sydney early next month.
The 12 OPVs will replace the Navy 13 existing patrol boats, with larger vessels, around 2000 tonnes, with greater endurance and better sea-keeping than the hard worked Armidale-class vessels.
Unlike the aluminium-hulled Armidale, the new vessels will be made of steel. Each will also be capable carrying a helicopter.
Under the government’s plan, the first two OPVs will be constructed in Adelaide and the other 10 in Western Australia.
In Australia to promote their bid, the company’s chief executive officer Peter Lurssen, said Lürssen Australia was committed to exceeding Australia’s skilling, warship design, construction and export requirements, as set out in the Naval Shipbuilding Plan.
“Much like our approach in Europe, which incorporates successful exports, we will set up an export hub within Australia to service this region, which is seeing rapid strategic and military developments. It makes perfect sense for us to be investing in local skills and talent,” he said.
“We expect the SEA 1180 program to be one way of developing future leaders of Australia’s world-class local industry.”
The new scholarships will be offered by Lürssen Australia and its partners ASC Shipbuilding and Civmec/Forgacs and managed through the peak industry body, the Defence Teaming Centre.
They will cover tuition and study related costs for relevant shipbuilding courses. Applications close mid-February, in time for the start of university and TAFE years. Three most promising scholarship students will be offered internships at Lürssen, ASC and Civmec/Forgacs.
Defence Teaming Centre chief executive Margot Foster said it was great to see the private sector investing in the next generation of Australian shipbuilders.
“The Defence Teaming Centre is proud to be a part of this program and encourages more companies to take Lürssen and its partners’ lead and invest in the future of shipbuilding in this country,” she said.