Babcock, Bechtel, HII spearhead support for Australia’s nuclear submarine initiative

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Image credit: Babcock

Babcock Australasia, Bechtel, and Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) have formally entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaboratively explore opportunities and contribute their expertise to Australia’s conventionally armed nuclear-powered submarine program.

This marks the first consortium of companies in Australia to publicly announce their collaborative efforts in supporting the nuclear-powered submarine program, spanning activities from infrastructure development to the submarines’ end-of-life phase, Babcock said in a news release.

The MOU follows the recent announcement of a strategic partnership between Babcock and HII to collectively support Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine capabilities within the AUKUS framework.

The trilateral collaboration is geared towards addressing both short and long-term challenges essential for the successful realisation of Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines.

Key areas of focus include skilled workforce development, nuclear infrastructure design and construction, submarine defueling and decommissioning, as well as nuclear waste and material management.

Pooling together over 150 years of collective experience, Babcock, Bechtel Australia, and HII have extensive backgrounds in supporting submarine fleets in the UK, USA, and Australia.

Their combined expertise extends to the successful delivery of complex, large-scale infrastructure projects and the critical development of skilled workforces.

Babcock’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Cavendish Nuclear, and Bechtel share a history of collaboration, having previously worked together at Sellafield, the UK’s oldest nuclear storage facility.

Their successful partnership also includes joint efforts in supporting infrastructure upgrade projects at Babcock’s Devonport site in Plymouth, UK.

Babcock Australasia CEO Andrew Cridland underscored the unparalleled global experience offered by the collaboration between Babcock, Bechtel Australia, and HII.

“We believe this relationship is critical to ensure the nation has the capability, expertise and skilled workforce it needs to operate, manage and ultimately dispose of nuclear-powered submarines from sovereign bases,” Cridland stressed.

Dr Richard Freer, Bechtel Australia Public Infrastructure managing director, acknowledged that skilled workforce development presents a significant challenge for the AUKUS enterprise.

“Babcock, Bechtel Australia and HII collectively bring insights and experience across all aspects of nuclear submarine engineering and construction, and by working together through this MOU we can help develop optimised solutions based on more strategic thinking to the AUKUS resource and infrastructure challenges,” Dr Freer stated.

Meanwhile, HII President Nuclear and Environmental Services Group Michael Lempke underscored the shared commitment of the three companies to maintaining a nuclear stewardship culture throughout the submarine life-cycle.

“We are committed to demonstrating these principles daily, to safeguard our people and the environment and foster public trust,” Lempke noted.