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Australian naval shipbuilding: An ambition too far?

A view of Osborne North from May 2020 when work was under way to construct the submarine shipyard for the Attack-class boats. The buildings seen here include the land-based test facility and Lockheed Martin's CMS integration facility. It is not clear whether these will be demolished. ASC's Collins support facility can be seen on the left with the large ship assembly hall in the new Osborne South yard in the distance. (ANI)

Australia has embarked on an expansion of its naval industrial capacity with the intention of developing a sovereign capability with all the technologies, skills, and facilities that will enable it to build and sustain ships and submarines for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) without recourse to overseas support.

This is a considerable challenge – requiring a whole-of-government effort, the participation of significant naval shipbuilding primes and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and a co-ordinated warship procurement plan – that will help Australia achieve its objective of a ‘continuous naval shipbuilding capability' into the future.

Australia's Naval Shipbuilding Plan (NSP) was launched in 2017 under the administration of Liberal-National coalition Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and followed from the 2016 Defence White Paper, which marked a significant increase in defence capability investment. The NSP stated that this commitment signalled a “generations-long national endeavour” intended for building and sustaining Australia's naval capabilities.

This was further developed in the 2020 Force Structure Plan and the Defence Strategic Update. In total the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) estimates there is AUD200 billion (USD139 billion) of investment into its Naval Shipbuilding and Sustainment Enterprise until 2060.

An Australian DoD spokesperson told Janes

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