Fire one!

• Cockburn could reap huge economic benefits if WA premier Mark McGowan successfully wrests contracts for full submarine refurbishments away from South Australia and down to the Australian Marine Complex in Henderson (pictured above), and with both defence minister Linda Reynolds and defence industry minister Melissa Price being Sandgropers, pundits are saing he’s in with a decent chance. It could open the door for attracting other Indian rim countries to use the facility, says Fremantle MP Josh Wilson.

McGowan torpedo could bring in foreign navy work

MOVING maintenance of Collins class submarines to Henderson shipyards in WA could open the floodgates for more repair work on overseas vessels, Fremantle MP Josh Wilson says.

He reckons countries in the Indian Ocean rim would be more likely to have their ships repaired in WA if Henderson became a major maintenance hub.

The McGowan government is lobbying to move full cycle docking of all Collins class submarines from Adelaide to Henderson by 2024.

Mr Wilson says the move could create “1000 permanent jobs” and “hundreds of local small and medium businesses” in the supply chain.

With BAE Systems and ASC in South Australia ramping up its production of frigates and submarines, Mr Wilson says “South Australia will have more work than they can handle so it makes sense to bring full cycle docking to WA”.

Henderson

Full-cycle docking of the Collins class submarines refers to the major overhaul and maintenance work that occurs once every 10 years for each submarine.

“It takes approximately two years and is a very extensive and complex piece of work. It involves cutting the submarine in half and putting it back together,” Mr Wilson said.

“From a jobs perspective, it allows us to diversify.”

Cockburn mayor Logan Howlett says moving the maintenance work to Henderson “makes strong economic and security sense for Australia.”

“There’ll be a doubling of the Australian Submarine Corp workforce” and the skills learnt by apprentices will be “transferable to any number of heavy manufacturing businesses”.

Half-cycle docking of some vessels is already done in WA, and two independent studies into the Collins class submarine maintenance program have found strategic and economic benefits of moving full cycle docking to WA.

A department of defence white paper published in 2016 stated a dire need for Australia’s “defence presence and capability to strengthen towards the Indian Ocean”, improving trade route security.

Federal defence minister Linda Reynolds said “I’ve got to make sure that any decision we take is in our nation’s interest.”

by TATIANA DALIN

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