Western Australia's naval defence industry will be the focus of high-level discussions in Europe at the start of November as Commerce Minister Michael Mischin visits key shipbuilders and designers. Mr Mischin, together with the Agent General for Western Australia John Atkins and Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive Officer, Deidre Willmott, will meet European designers Lürssen (Germany), Fassmer (Germany) and Damen (Netherlands), along with French naval shipbuilding company DCNS.
Lürssen, Fassmer and Damen are shortlisted designers for the Offshore Patrol Vessels program, which will start in Western Australia from 2020, after being transferred from South Australia. Local companies will build the vessels using mainly their existing supply chain and infrastructure. DCNS is the preferred design international partner to build 12 future submarines in South Australia, with an expectation that Western Australia's naval defence industry will be able to participate in the program.
The Minister said the European talks would offer opportunities for the Liberal National Government to gain an understanding of build strategies for the Offshore Patrol Vessels and promote the capability of the Australian Marine Complex (AMC) in Henderson.
"The Australian Marine Complex is a world-class facility - one of two locations to implement the Commonwealth's commitment to a continuous build of naval surface ships in Australia - and companies based there have a proven ability to continue to sustain, maintain and upgrade the RAN vessels home-ported at HMAS Stirling," he said.
The program to build Offshore Patrol Vessels is estimated to be worth more than A$3b and will create more than 400 direct jobs. Up to half of the Royal Australian Navy's surface and subsurface fleet is based permanently and sustained in Western Australia, including all six of the Collins submarines as part of Fleet Base West. In 2013-14 alone, defence contracts managed at the AMC totalled an estimated A$624m creating up to 4,000 jobs.