Patrick Durrant | Sydney
WA based engineering services company Civmec will lease an additional seven hectares adjoining its Henderson facility and plans to commence building a massive shipbuilding hall on the site in the second quarter of next year.
A neighbour to long time Henderson locals and future shipbuilding rivals Austal and BAE Systems, Civmec, via its recently acquired subsidiary Forgacs Marine and Defence, will now have further space to carry out construction, repair and maintenance of ships and submarines, including those under Australia’s naval defence acquisition programs.
“You would be able to house all twelve of the Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) in there under the one roof.”
Civmec general manager Defence and former submariner Mike Deeks told ADM the company’s plans would represent a major capability that would change the face of shipbuilding in WA and potentially in Australia.
“The planned hall will be about 60 metres high or 20 storeys – you would be able to house all twelve of the Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) in there under the one roof,” he said.
The hall will have three bays separated by multi-story partitions, each about 12 metres wide, that will house workshops, store rooms, project planning rooms, office spaces and amenities etc.
“All the facilities needed to carry out work on the ships contained within will be located within these partitions – workers will be able to walk straight off the module or vessel being built straight into those supporting workspaces – it will deliver a new level of productivity to shipbuilding.”
Deeks said the company was well recognised for its productivity and innovation providing engineering services for the offshore and resources sector, and would now apply this expertise in the Defence and shipbuilding sector.
“It’s innovation at its best – new ideas, processes and techniques without the inherent risk of unproven technology,” he said.
Acording to Deeks the plans represented a multi-decade, multi-generational commitment to grow a new capability with the focus not simply on the numerous naval shipbuilding programs in forthcoming years, but on domestic commercial maritime builds as well as potential export opportunities.
“Having said that, I believe we are competitive in the OPV space, working with designers and/or other Australian builders,” he said.
Civmec would also be growing its workforce as a result of the development and Deeks envisaged 1000 workers being utilised in the new facility alone, of which 100 would be apprentices.
“It’s great news for jobs in this state which has the highest rate of unemployment in the country at the moment,” he added.
Civmec acquired Forgacs earlier this year and is now in the process of redeveloping the Newcastle site at Tomago.
Deeks said the first phase DA approval, which would see it adapted for Civmec’s pre-cast concrete and civil construction projects, went through earlier in the week. However the company was also developing plans for the site that would include a marine element that might include a vessel synchro lifting capability.
Civmec has also been positioning itself to partake in the Sea 1000 Future Submarine program and demonstrated early in the year that it had the capabilities to carry out the complex work of cutting and shaping the steel hulls.
“One thing about Civmec is you’ll never die wondering – we don’t waste time getting on with things,” Deeks said.