• Civmec’s Henderson facility.
    Civmec’s Henderson facility. Civmec

Lürssen Australia celebrated its engagement with local industry on Defence’s $3.6 billion Arafura-class offshore patrol vessel program (Sea 1180 Phase 1), with an award ceremony for its SME supplier base in Perth on January 30.

The ceremony was attended by representatives from its SME supplier base and dignitaries including Lürssen Australia CEO Jens Nielsen, Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price and WA State Government Minister for Tourism, Racing and Gaming; Small Business; Defence Issues; Citizenship and Multicultural Issues, Paul Papalia.

Before presenting representatives from each of the more than 100 SMEs it has engaged with on the OPV program with their award, Nielsen announced Lürssen Australia has donated $100,000 to bushfire relief in the country.

“The dramatic bushfires which have impacted this country severely require a lot of help and support in rebuilding,” he said. “I would like to think that our example will encourage our partners in the Sea 1180 project to find ways to contribute to assist those affected by bushfires.”

Nielsen said that when Lürssen won the Sea 1180 program two years ago it committed to a 60 per cent Australian Industry Capability (AIC) and today the company has achieved 62.7 per cent.

“The result to date we are very proud of but (it) will also not stop us from continuing to achieve more,” he promised. “We are proud to be part of this nation’s shipbuilding future. We are proud to transfer Lürssen’s experience, design and technical skill to Australia to help create a sovereign industry, which we are all part of.”

Twelve Arafura-class OPVs are being acquired under the program, with the first two vessels now undergoing fabrication at ASC’s facility at Osborne in South Australia. The following 10 ships will be built by Civmec in Henderson, WA, in an impressive new fabrication facility now undergoing completion.

“On January 31, 2018, almost two years ago, Lürssen signed the Sea 1180 contract with the Commonwealth. We said we would be using Australian shipyards, Australian SMEs, Australian labour (and) Australian steel,” Nielsen said.

“And in the two years we have achieved the scheduled design integration milestones in parallel with cutting steel since (the) fourth quarter of 2018. Construction of our 12 vessels is well on the way to ensure a timely handover to support Navy capability.”

Civmec has completed the cutting of steel for the first OPV, which it supplies to ASC in Osborne for ship fabrication and is about halfway through this process for Ship No. 2. The first steel is expected to be cut for Ship No. 3 – the first to be built at Henderson – at the end of March.

“We committed ourselves to a schedule which resulted in us jointly achieving the commencement of construction of OPV No. 1 in November 2018 and a keel laying ceremony on May 10, 2019 – as well as commencement of construction of OPV No. 2, which started on June 4, 2019,” Nielsen told suppliers.

“We are preparing for the OPV No. 2 keel laying ceremony and commencement of construction of OPV No. 3 here in Henderson, where ships three to twelve are being built. And all of this is on time.

“Today is a small step along the pathway we will share together. We are proud of the relationship we have built, and we look forward to future milestones and activities such as achieving ship acceptance and sustainment opportunities. We are committed to Australian industry and we will continue to invest in its capability.”

Disclaimer: The writer travelled to WA as a guest of Lürssen Australia.

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