Is Navy back-flipping on recent sea boat contract?

A story on Defence’s news site today caught our eye – Call-out to industry on sea boat capabilities – in which Defence said it had issued “a request for information (RFI) on AusTender to gain an appreciation of Australian industry capabilities to design, manufacture and sustain military sea boats”.

FILE PHOTO (May 2019): 2nd Commando Regiment commandos speed towards a ‘target’ vessel in a rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) during counter-terrorism training exercise. Photo by Corporal Sebastian Beurich.

This RFI comes just six months after Boomeranger Boats of Finland announced they had signed a contract to supply 41 sea boats for the Royal Australian Navy’s new Arafura-class off-shore patrol vessels over 10 years.

The contract with Boomeranger Boats was heavily criticised because it apparently was signed without a tender process at or shortly after the PACIFIC 2019 maritime expo – where Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price had earlier visited to publicly unveil a new locally designed tactical watercraft known as “Whiskey Alpha“.

The local boat is a pretty radical new design from an Australian-veteran-owned business – building the boat they wished they had had when they were operating.

It was also announced amidst the federal government’s much publicised pushing for greater Australian inputs in the $90 billion Australian shipbuilding plan.

Today’s story is written to sound like Defence’s Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group recently came up with a great idea – “to establish what Australian industry capabilities currently exist, and could potentially be developed, to design, manufacture and support sea boats for the RAN”.

The truth is probably more akin to a “do this or else” directive from capital hill – and obviously should have been done before signing with Boomeranger.

Confusingly, however, the story ends with “vendors, both locally and internationally, will need to be registered on AusTender to access RFI details”.

The RFI was published on 30 March but not announced on the Defence ‘news’ site until today. It closes on 30 April at 2pm.


Pre-recorded industry briefing





sir_jeffrey_blog_logoAnother comment from resident crankyman Sir Jeffrey Armiger – a retired Public Servant with a pet hate for BE (bovine excrement).


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Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

One thought on “Is Navy back-flipping on recent sea boat contract?

  • 19/04/2020 at 1:56 pm

    I understood, from my days in The Government Works Department, that ALL orders HAD TO BE TENDERED FOR, and only incidental PARTS may be approved for order locally without tender. So, Have my eyes misread the article, or has a Public Servant or Junior Minister somehow BY-PASSED the tendering process, or caused it to be released far too late for all possible suppliers to tender for a contract. If this is the case, either the tender process has been carelessly abrupted, or criminally manhandled…


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