A number of new naval projects have been confirmed for South Australia, following the announcement today of a new enhanced security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The first initiative under the partnership, known as AUKUS, is to acquire nuclear-powered submarines for Australia, which are intended to be built in South Australia.
A life-of-type extension to the Collins-class submarine fleet from 2026 in South Australia has also been approved, with HMAS Farncomb to be the first to undergo upgrade.
The government also confirmed that full-cycle docking programs for the Collins-class will continue to be conducted at Osborne.
Both those programs are expected to cost up to $6.4 billion.
Another up to $5.1 billion in upgrades to the Hobart-class destroyer combat management system will also be conducted at Osborne from 2024.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the expansion of Australia’s naval capabilities will strengthen national security, boost our sovereign workforce and support thousands of jobs.
“South Australia is home to some of the most skilled shipbuilding workers in the world, they have the know-how, ingenuity, industrial knowledge and determination that is required to provide our Defence Force with the very best capability,” Mr Morrison said.
Minister for Defence Peter Dutton said these latest investments would ensure Australia maintained a strong and agile submarine capability for decades.
“The Collins-class submarine to this day remains one of the most capable conventional submarines in the world,” Minister Dutton said.
“The planned life-of-type extension, through the replacement of key systems, will help deliver Defence’s strategic objectives.
“The upgrade to the Aegis combat management system will ensure our fleet of Hobart-class air warfare destroyers maintain their capability-edge into the future.
“Both of these projects announced today are vital for Defence’s ability to act with greater independence in an increasingly contested strategic environment.”
The pursuit of nuclear-powered submarine technology means that Australia will cancel its contract with Naval Group for the French-designed Attack-class conventional submarine program.
Mr Morrison thanked the Attack-class submarine workforce, Naval Group, the Government of France and Lockheed Martin Australia for their efforts to date, but said accelerating changes to regional security made conventional submarines unsuited to our operational needs in the decades ahead.
“The government will actively work with industry to ensure the people and skills developed under the existing program are not lost to the Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise as we establish a new program to support the delivery of nuclear-powered submarines to the Navy,” Mr Morrison said.
“The existing submarine workforce are prime candidates for the unprecedented work that needs to be performed across the enterprise over the coming decades, where we will rely on their expertise more than ever.
“We will partner with our Australian-owned sovereign shipbuilder, ASC, to manage and implement a new sovereign shipbuilding talent pool.
“We are committed to finding a role for each and every skilled shipbuilding worker impacted by this announcement.”
The announcement was “a major disappointment for Naval Group”a spokesperson for that company said.
Mr Morrison said the decision to go nuclear was not taken lightly.