Australia Pushes Through with Major Warship Building Program amid China Tensions

By | May 18, 2017 08:57 AM EDT
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Australia's Warship Building Program. (Photo : Department of Defense)

Australia will spend upwards of $965 million to either refurbish or build new infrastructure at the naval shipyards tasked with building its next generation warships, which should be more than able to cope with future threats from China.

Under the government's 2016 White Paper on Defense, Australia plans to build about $66.7 billion worth of submarines, frigates and patrol boats for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) over the next 35 years.

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Work on naval shipbuilding infrastructure will start this year at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia. The Henderson Maritime Precinct in Western Australia will also be upgraded.

Australia's Department of Defense announced the shipbuilding boost earlier this week as part of the Naval Shipbuilding Plan. This plan outlines a strategy to support what's being called a "continuous build" program over the coming decades.

It outlines the government's strategies to support what it says are "four key enablers" to support the continuous build program: enhancing shipbuilding infrastructure; developing the workforce; developing a competitive local industrial base and a promoting a "national collaborative approach."

The shipbuilding plan also calls for coordination between various levels of government, industrial sectors, academia, research institutes and professional associations.

"We are embarking on a great national endeavor," said the Defense Department in a statement. "We will transform our naval shipbuilding and sustainment industry here in Australia, with Australian workers, in Australian shipyards, using Australian resources.

The Defense Department said in total, the administration of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will invest more than $965 million to modernize construction shipyards in South Australia and Western Australia.

Included in the work will be new cranes and heavy-lift transportation capability; building welding stations and modernizing workshops and buildings.

Australia's Naval Shipbuilding College will begin work with existing education centers to expand and develop the pool of available skilled workers for the expanding naval industry.

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