Govt seeks patrol boat tenders

The project will involve the construction of up to 21 steel-hulled patrol vessels destined for service in the Pacific region.

Defence Minister Kevin Andrews said the boats, to be donated to countries involved in the Pacific Patrol Boat Program, will help countries including Fiji, Samoa and Vanuatu secure their exclusive economic zones.

BAE Systems Australia, which has a base in Henderson, was quick to raise its hand to replace the fleet it previously built.

Chief executive David Allott said there would be many winners if it was to get the contract.

‘We have a supply chain that includes around 800 small and medium Australian businesses that will be very keen to contribute to this program and to retain some of their capabilities as well,’ he said.

‘This capability will be critical should the government decide to maintain a sovereign shipbuilding capability in Australia.’

A BAE spokesman said it was too early to know which of its Australian facilities would construct the boats if the Government went with them.

Just as he did last June, Austal chief executive Andrew Bellamy said he was disappointed the patrol boats had to be steel-hulled.

‘We remain of the view that the Government should set out the capability required and shipbuilders should then be required to meet that capability, regardless of the construction material. Austal is in the process of considering how it will respond to the Request for Tender,’ he said.

Assistant national secretary for the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union Glenn Thompson said the union welcomed the news but hoped projects would be pushed forward to ensure workers remain employed.

The Government will make further decisions later in 2015.