BAE Sys­tems talks up its lo­cal cred in frigate bid

The West Australian - - WEST BUSINESS - Peter Wil­liams

Bri­tish de­fence com­pany BAE Sys­tems is draw­ing on its 65year his­tory in this coun­try to pitch it­self as an Aus­tralian ship­builder for the $35 bil­lion frigate project.

WA man­u­fac­turer Austal has been crit­i­cal of a Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment guide­line the pro­gram’s three for­eign de­sign bid­ders need not con­tract Aus­tralian com­pa­nies to build the nine war­ships.

BAE Sys­tems bid leader Nigel Ste­wart said his com­pany could meet the obli­ga­tion of help­ing build an Aus­tralian ship­build­ing ca­pa­bil­ity.

“I know it’s hard with the Bri­tish ac­cent say­ing we’re an Aus­tralian ship­builder but we do think we’ve got some cre­den­tials to say we’re not just com­ing in from the UK,” Mr Ste­wart said.

Austal this year formed an al­liance with Govern­men­towned ASC to of­fer their ser­vices to the suc­cess­ful de­sign bid­der. “I don’t think it has to be that model,” Mr Ste­wart said.

“What you ab­so­lutely do want is, you want some­body who’s go­ing to be here for the longterm. You don’t want to build that ca­pa­bil­ity up then lose it.”

BAE Sys­tems’ ri­vals for the South Aus­tralia-based project are Spain’s Na­van­tia and Italy’s Fin­cantieri.

He said the out­come of the off­shore pa­trol ves­sel project would in­flu­ence the con­struc­tion model for the frigates be­cause the first two OPVs will be built in SA be­fore that pro­gram moves to WA. “That’s go­ing to dic­tate the land­scape. There has to be a re­la­tion­ship be­tween the OPV builder and frigate builder be­cause of the over­lap. You can’t do it while there’s still a com­pe­ti­tion run­ning.”

Austal and an ASC-Civmec al­liance are part of ri­val bids to build the OPVs. Mr Ste­wart’s WA trip to ad­dress po­ten­tial sup­pli­ers last night in­cluded vis­its to Austal and Civmec.

Pic­ture: Sharon Smith

BAE Sys­tems Nigel Ste­wart says his com­pany has a long his­tory in Aus­tralia.

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