Submarine rescue and escape training company James Fisher and Sons (JFD Australia) has acquired diving and recompression specialist Cowan Manufacturing.
The acquisition of the Newcastle-based company represents a significant step in JFD's plan to expand its Australian advanced manufacturing base, which includes facilities at Bibra Lake, south of Perth and Kirrawee in Sydney.
“Perth is where it all began for JFD in Australia in 2003, equipping the Royal Australian Navy with military diving equipment and systems then, in 2009, we began providing the RAN with a free-swimming submarine rescue service and escape training facility,” JFD Chairman Peter Horobin said.
“This is an exciting day for JFD and our staff who can look forward to even more employment opportunities as Cowan Manufacturing will expand JFD’s capability, resulting in JFD creating more jobs across Australia for Australians.”
Cowan Manufacturing, a family business since 1973 which currently employs 25 staff, is recognised worldwide for its design and manufacture of lifesaving recompression and hyperbaric chambers.
“Our core business has always been to make world’s best products using Australian steel and aluminium and employing highly-skilled local tradespeople,” managing director Bob Cowan said.
Cowan has established important defence clients in Australia, Asia and Europe; it has also secured the highly-sought US Navy Seal of Approval. It is currently the largest provider of hyperbaric maintenance and repair services to ADF supporting a total of 23 recompression chambers, involving arrangements with the RAN and Australian Defence Industries.
“Aligning with JFD Australia is the obvious progression for us as both businesses are keen to push ahead with supporting and growing local industry and jobs.
“All of our current employees will retain their positions and they will benefit from further opportunities for promotion.”
Horobin said JFD Australia will now be able to extend its existing RAN hyperbaric repair capability and the manufacturing of highly technological steel and aluminium equipment, such as the submarine rescue vehicles.
In 2014, JFD was awarded a Commonwealth contract for the long-term provision of the RAN's submarine escape and rescue capability for five years, with options through to 2024.
Second Pass approval for Sea 1354 Phase 1 (Submarine Escape rescue and Abandonment Systems) is expected within the current financial year.