Austal will build Army’s Landing Craft Medium and Heavy at Henderson, WA.
Australia has announced a strategic partnership with Austal Limited to secure the country’s shipbuilding capability and invest in the Western Australian defence industry. The initiative, based at Henderson Shipyard, addresses concerns raised in the Defence Strategic Review about the sustainability of shipbuilding work in Henderson. As one of Australia’s major shipbuilding hubs, Henderson is crucial for building and maintaining vessels for the Australian Defence Force. The reform aims to ensure Henderson’s future as a vital naval shipbuilding complex, capable of meeting evolving defence needs, providing job security, infrastructure investment, and local economic productivity.
Under the strategic shipbuilder pilot, Austal will build Army’s Landing Craft Medium and Heavy at Henderson, subject to successful negotiations and performance. Birdon Group Pty Ltd has been chosen as the preferred designer for the Landing Craft Medium, with plans to construct 18 vessels at Henderson. Depending on the project’s success, the government also intends to pursue the Landing Craft Heavy capability through the strategic partnership.
Austal will additionally deliver two Evolved Cape-Class Patrol Boats for the Royal Australian Navy at an acquisition cost of $157.1 million. This capability will enhance the Navy’s at-sea navigation and seamanship training.
To formalize the strategic shipbuilder pilot, Defence and Austal will enter into a Heads of Agreement, outlining the principles and framework of the enduring partnership, and commence negotiations for a strategic shipbuilder agreement. The government emphasizes the importance of a sovereign and enduring naval shipbuilding and sustainment industry at Henderson in ensuring continuous naval shipbuilding in Australia for national security.
Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles emphasised the government’s commitment to delivering world-class sovereign capabilities for the Defence Force. Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy highlighted the new approach to shipbuilding, focusing on a continuous pipeline of work and an efficient, streamlined approach to benefit defence capability and industry confidence. Western Australian Minister for Defence Industry Paul Papalia expressed the state’s recognition as a key contributor to the nation’s defence strategy and emphasized efforts to grow the economy and build a more resilient state.