• Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne addresses the workers and guests attending the opening of ASC West's new shipyard facility. Credit: ASC Defence
    Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne addresses the workers and guests attending the opening of ASC West's new shipyard facility. Credit: ASC Defence

An event to celebrate the opening of an innovative major upgrade to ASC’s WA submarine maintenance facility was held today in Henderson.

The upgrade is part of ASC’s continuous improvement of the maintenance of Australia’s Collins Class submarine fleet, as part of the Submarine Enterprise, which has achieved international benchmark performance this year.

The $12.5 million redevelopment will improve productivity and reliability through a maintenance support tower, sky bridge and new amenities and office areas, significantly cutting the time workers spend accessing a submarine under maintenance.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann and Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne jointly opened the redevelopment at ASC West, in Henderson, at a ceremony attended by ASC management and personnel, senior Defence Department, Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and defence industry leaders.

“This major redevelopment at ASC’s Western Australian facility lays a solid foundation for ASC’s future as a key sovereign asset delivering Australia’s submarine capability,” ASC Interim CEO Stuart Whiley said.

“It is an exciting development that comes at a time of significant investment and commitment to growing Australia’s future submarine capability by the Federal Government. ASC looks forward to being a key part of delivering that capability growth.”

The redevelopment comes after ASC and the Defence Department agreed a further five year performance period for the sustainment of the Collins Class submarine fleet, which commenced on 1 July this year.

During the next performance period of the In Service Support Contract (ISSC) ASC has committed to go “beyond benchmark” with its partners in the Submarine Enterprise, made up of the Defence Department, RAN, ASC and Raytheon Australia (combat system).

The Federal Government reviewed Collins Class submarine maintenance last year and found it to be an “exemplar program”.

Whiley said ASC’s experience and know-how, from 30 years building and sustaining Collins Class submarines in Australia, made it a critical capability partner in Australia in coming years to meet increased submarine capability requirements, including the maintenance, upgrade and life-of-type extension of the Collins Class fleet as well as assisting in the delivery of the Future Submarine (FSM) program.

Recent comments by Acting Naval Group (formerly DCNS) Australia CEO Brent Clark that ASC would play no role in the building of the Future Submarine appeared to sideline the company, although the Government is still to confirm just what ASC's involvement might look like.

ASC West was opened in 2008 and carries out in-service maintenance of Collins Class submarines. Its workforce has grown significantly in the past two years, up from approximately 250 employees to today employing more than 380 permanent personnel and more than 120 contractors.

The upgrade of ASC’s submarine facility at Henderson builds on the facility upgrade at ASC’s South Australian facility in 2014, which delivered approximately 30 percent productivity improvements in submarine deep maintenance.

“ASC’s successful innovation and transformation of deep maintenance in South Australia led to the adoption of similar reforms at ASC West, which will lead to further productivity improvements in our submarine operations,” Whiley said.

“The more time workers can spend working on submarines means more efficient, cost-effective and productive submarine maintenance, and ultimately greater submarine availability and reliability for the Royal Australian Navy.

“This project is demonstration of our commitment to Australia’s naval defence capabilities, now and into the future.”

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