Plans for a new, state-of-the-art shipbuilding facility have been put on display by Forgacs Marine and Defence, including an undercover ‘hall’ 200 metres long by 135 metres wide, and a central bay 65 metres high.
The $80 million, seven-hectare site will be located to the south of the existing Civmec facility in Perth, and will be primarily targeted at securing Naval Defence projects.
“We’ve officially launched Forgacs Marine and Defence,” managing director, Mike Deeks CSC told Defence Connect. “It’s the vehicle through which, as the wholly-owned subsidiary of Civmec, we will do our marine and defence work.
“The central bay inside the hall will be big enough to put a Future Frigate or Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) under cover, and there’s nowhere else in Australia that can do that.”
“When you think about a 65-metre bay, that’s the equivalent of a 20-storey office block,” Deeks pointed out.
Deeks, a former Navy Commodore (RAN), is confident in the government’s rhetoric about continuous shipbuilding and that the new site will make Western Australia first choice for both Defence and private shipbuilders.
“The government has clearly stated that they want to set up a continuous shipbuilding capability,” Deeks told Defence Connect. “They want it for frigate size and above in South Australia and minor warfare vessel size in WA.
“We think that having that capability in WA will make us a very attractive proposition for that continuous shipbuilding.
“And we’re ready for ship maintenance too. With a large shed [hall] like that, it must be very appealing to anyone wanting to do ship maintenance.
“The productivity they could achieve by putting the ship undercover is incredible.”
“It’s important to remember that the site will be there for Naval and non-Naval shipbuilding,” Deeks added. “But more importantly, it will be available for ship maintenance. We see it as a long-term thing.”
At its peak, Deeks expects the facility to generate work for around 1,000 staff and an additional 100 apprenticeships and graduates.
“We estimate that the hall could accommodate around one thousand workers in there,” he told Defence Connect. “Not that we’ll need that many for the OPV (Offshore Patrol Vessel) project. The OPV’s won’t fill the hall, we’ll be able to have them running at the same time as other projects.”
Deeks expects the site to be completed within three years, including a levelling process before construction begins.
“The aim is to have the site up and running well ahead of the OPV projects in WA in 2020. If we start [construction] in March 2017, we should have it completed by late 2019.”
Meanwhile, the first phase of construction at Forgacs Marine and Defence’s Tomago site (located in Newcastle, NSW) has been approved by the local council.