Australia has continued to strengthen its defence relationship with Spain, with Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne meeting with one of his key Spanish counterparts in Sydney.
Minister Pyne and Spain's Minister for Defence Maria Dolores de Cospedal met to discuss both countries' defence industries, as well as Australia's $90 billion naval shipbuilding program.
Spanish company Navantia is currently tendering for the SEA 5000 Future Frigates project and is up against Italian company Fincantieri and BAE Systems.
Following the meeting, Minister Pyne paid tribute to Spain and its role as a global partner for Australia.
“Spain is a valued partner for Australia and our increasing defence and materiel co-operation is a sign of the strength of our bilateral relationship,” he said.
“As Australia embarks on a substantial renewal of our defence capabilities, including one of the most ambitious shipbuilding programs in the world, we seek to do so with global partners like Spain.
"Spain’s proven shipbuilding ability, and the capability of ships such as the Cristóbal Colón, demonstrate why Navantia is one of three international designers shortlisted for Australia’s Future Frigate program."
Minister de Cospedal will also visit the Spanish frigate Cristóbal Colón in Sydney for familiarisation training for Royal Australian Navy personnel ahead of commissioning the first of Navy’s new Air Warfare Destroyers, HMAS Hobart, later this year.
The Cristóbal Colón has been in Australia since March, after docking in Adelaide's Outer Harbour wharf. The Spanish frigate is aiming to demonstrate some of the capabilities Navantia has on offer for its SEA 5000 bid.
Minister Pyne toured the frigate when it was in Adelaide, praising the frigate’s capabilities, as well as Navantia’s operational skills.
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"The Cristóbal Colón is a highly capable vessel and demonstrates the kind of capability that Navantia are offering in the Future Frigate project," Minister Pyne said
"Navantia was instrumental in turning around the Air Warfare Destroyer program in Australia, taking the Osborne shipyard to internationally competitive standards.
"Navantia’s ability to run shipyards, Australia’s long relationship with Spain and the capability of ships like the Cristóbal Colón are among the reasons Navantia were downselected for Australia’s Future Frigate program."