Two North Queensland businesses will build seven new watercraft as part of the government’s commitment to strengthening the Australian Army’s amphibious capability. The vessels, which will be built locally in Cairns, will assist Army amphibious operations and support systems.
Acting Minister for Defence Marise Payne said the watercraft will replace Army’s water safety and inshore hydrographic capability. “The vessels will provide dedicated and agile watercraft for survey, safety, planning and command and control,” Payne said. “These important watercraft will enable the Army to safely conduct a range of amphibious training activities and operations, which is a critical capability for the ADF. Today’s announcement is part of the (government’s) commitment to maximising Australian industry involvement through our unprecedented A$270 billion investment in defence capability over the next decade, which is creating local jobs right across Australia.”
Tropical Reef Shipyards and BME NQ will manufacture the 7.5 metre vessels, and provide spares and trailers, as well as operator and maintainer training. The watercraft will be based on a Chris Tucker Marine Design product, an Australian Naval Architect firm, at a cost of A$4.05 million.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said building the Australian-designed boats in Cairns was a win under the government’s Naval Shipbuilding Plan. “Tropical Reef Shipyard is a key defence industry partner and is used extensively by the Royal Australian Navy for maintenance and modification services on our Leeuwin Class Hydrographic ships and Paluma Class Survey Motor boats,” Price said. “Australian businesses will grow our marine manufacturing and maintenance capacity, showing once again that we are backing local businesses and supporting local jobs.”
Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch said this is a great outcome for Cairns to support crucial Army capability, and is testament to the strong marine industry in North Queensland. “I’m pleased that Cairns will play a crucial role in strengthening Army’s amphibious capability,” Entsch said. “The award of this contract provides an excellent growth opportunity for these Cairns-based businesses. BME NQ currently employ 17 staff and will now bring on an additional six employees, including an apprentice, to work on the watercraft. This announcement is another positive step towards building on Cairns manufacturing, defence and marine maintenance capabilities.”