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Defence to invest $4.3 billion in WA ship infrastructure

Defence will invest up to $4.3 billion to deliver Western Australia’s first large-vessel dry berth, creating a world-class precinct at the Henderson shipyard near Fremantle. The Henderson dry-dock will enable the construction and sustainment of large naval vessels in Australia and support an even stronger commercial shipbuilding and sustainment market in Western Australia.

Government-owned Australian Naval Infrastructure (ANI) will oversee the design and build of the dock, with work to start in 2023 and initial operations to commence in 2028. Minister for Finance Simon Birmingham, whose department owns the company, said that utilising ANI for the design and build of this advanced facility would be crucial to maintaining sovereignty in Australia’s shipbuilding and sustainment infrastructure.

The Commonwealth will work closely with the WA government and industry to develop a comprehensive master plan for the defence precinct at Henderson to ensure this investment fully supports Australia’s national naval shipbuilding enterprise effectively.

Once completed, this infrastructure will sustain at least 2,000 direct shipbuilding jobs at Henderson, particularly as continuous naval shipbuilding in Western Australia comes to fruition as part of the national naval shipbuilding enterprise.

One of the major projects which the project may be in time to support is Navy’s planned class of two Joint Support Ships, valued at $4-6 billion and displacing around 16,500 tonnes each, which could be built in WA using this new facility. The four recent large ship purchases for the RAN – two LHDs and two AORs – have seen them built overseas due to lack of capacity to build large vessels and lack of time to create the necessary infrastructure and skills (although the two LHDs had their superstructures fitted at Williamstow nand the vessels were completed in Australia).

“This multi-billion dollar infrastructure investment will transform the Henderson maritime precinct into a world-class shipbuilding powerhouse, and demonstrates our ongoing commitment to naval capability in the West,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“This investment in WA’s future will ensure we can build as well as sustain larger vessels in Australia, turbocharging our national naval shipbuilding endeavour and creating thousands of job opportunities for West Australians.”

“Henderson, HMAS Stirling and Fleet Base West all form a key part of our maritime capability and our nation’s security, particularly given the strategic importance of the Indian Ocean, and will continue to do so for decades to come.”

Minister for Defence Peter Dutton said the project builds on the Government’s previous $1.5 billion commitment to infrastructure improvements at HMAS Stirling and the Henderson maritime precinct.

“The Morrison Government is committed to delivering the sovereign shipbuilding outcomes outlined in the 2020 Force Structure Plan and the 2017 National Naval Shipbuilding Plan, and Western Australia is central to them,” Minister Dutton said.

Australian industry is already supporting this significant infrastructure project through concept work, said Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price.

“The project will build the capacity and capability of sovereign defence industry in the region, particularly in the advanced manufacturing sector, with Australian Industry Capability requirements in contracting arrangements,” she said.

“The infrastructure will also support Defence’s $90 million Regional Maintenance Centre due to be operational in Henderson in the second half of 2022 to enable a level of maintenance to be conducted on all surface fleet units and creating 40 jobs.”

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