15 April 2015
Scorpene class submarine (photo : DCNS)
FRENCH submarine officials will tour ASC tomorrow as they consider whether to build Australia’s future fleet in Adelaide.
The submarine builder DCNS will be the second of the three bidders vying for the $20 billion-plus project to visit the former Australian Submarine Corporation, based at Osborne.
ASC senior managers told a Senate committee hearing in Adelaide today that they also hoped to push the shipyard’s credentials to Japanese defence officials at a major maritime conference in Yokohama next month.
Promoted as Japan’s first ever international defence event, the MastAsia conference is endorsed by Japan’s powerful Defence ministry.
The ASC sales pitch follows a top-level delegation of German government and defence industry officials visiting ASC last month.
Senator Nick Xenophon revealed a Defence memo to ASC requiring the company to respond in an even-handed way to all three countries involved in the competitive evaluation process for the future submarines.
Senator Xenophon said this contradicted advice to him from Education Minister and Sturt MP Christopher Pyne, urging him to work with ASC to put together a competitive bid with one of the bidders.
BAE Systems director maritime Bill Saltzer echoed his company’s warning last year that the Williamstown shipyard would close if there was no more defence shipbuilding contracts to overcome the so-called valley of death, or ending of work.
He said his firm’s tender for two supply ships had been ignored by the previous federal government in favour of an overseas deal.
Mr Saltzer — a 30-year defence industry veteran — said the Navy would need many ships and submarines in coming decades and urged bipartisan planning to prevent workers being laid off, then re-employed in the future.
He said the lack of planning so far should not be an excuse for delay but a call to action.
“Can you come together and work in cooperation with industry to make it happen now?” he said.