WA gov’t inks deal with top nuclear submarine manufacturer to bolster maritime defence industry

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A welder works on a steel panel at the Newport News Shipbuilding Norfolk Campus. Image credit: Huntington Ingalls Industries

The Western Australian Government has inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Huntington Ingalls Industries, the world’s largest manufacturer of nuclear-powered submarines.

According to a government media statement, the agreement is designed to focus on advancing the maritime defence sector and workforce training.

With a global workforce exceeding 42,000, Huntington Ingalls Industries is renowned for its expertise in constructing the US Virginia-class submarine, a model anticipated for Australia’s acquisition in the coming decade.

Rotational deployment of US Virginia-class submarines is scheduled to commence at HMAS Stirling, Garden Island, in 2027, paving the way for the Royal Australian Navy’s procurement of nuclear submarines by the 2030s under the AUKUS partnership.

The MoU represents a significant stride in the State Government’s efforts to foster high-paying, skilled job opportunities at the Australian Marine Complex (AMC) in Henderson and HMAS Stirling, ensuring sustained growth for decades.

In March, the Australian Government disclosed an $8 billion expansion plan for HMAS Stirling over the next ten years, projecting the creation of approximately 3,000 direct jobs.

This investment aims to enhance Western Australia’s capacity to conduct extensive and intricate repairs on visiting military vessels, solidifying its position as a regional hub for defence industry innovation and enterprise.

The dual-focused MoU underscores the commitment to industry and workforce development, positioning Western Australia as a prime centre for defence industry innovation and education.

The strategic partnership is also anticipated to fortify the state’s standing in the global submarine industry while fostering collaboration between Western Australia and the expansive US defence industry through the AUKUS partnership.

Defence Industry Minister Paul Papalia expressed his enthusiasm about the signing of the major MoU with Huntington Ingalls Industries, stating that it marks an exciting period for Western Australia’s maritime defence industry.

“Not only will it expand our skill base in the defence workforce, but it signals to the international community that WA is becoming a major player in the submarine industry,” Papalia noted.

The minister added, “It will also build on the relationship between WA and the much larger defence industry in the US ready to assist with the AUKUS partnership.”

Training Minister Simone McGurk commented on the Memorandum of Understanding with Huntington Ingalls Industries, underscoring its significant contribution to the government’s initiatives to enhance training and job opportunities in Western Australia’s defence sector.

“Huntington Ingalls Industries is a renowned international company with a wealth of experience manufacturing nuclear-powered submarines,” Minister McGurk stated.

“This experience will be vital as we train local workers to work on the Virginia-class submarines, which will soon be operating from WA,” he concluded.