Naval Group Australia, a subsidiary of French shipbuilding company Naval Group, has appointed the former Chief of the Australian Army, Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie, AC, DSC, CSM, as independent director.
Gillespie, who commenced the role in June 2019, will play a pivotal role in the governance of Naval Group Australia. The independent director is charged with the effective oversight of Naval Group Australia and its strategy through his strong participation in board and committee meetings, monitoring and addressing company risks, building strong partnerships and reviewing the company’s financial position.
The role will also have a significant influence on the overview of the Future Submarine Program.
John Davis, chief executive, Naval Group Australia said that prior to the appointment, Gillespie had shown excellence in strategic planning, engagement and implementation skills in demanding high command appointments.
"LTGEN Gillespie brings a wealth of knowledge and experience with him to Naval Group Australia and the Future Submarine Program, which, in partnership with the Commonwealth of Australia, will help ensure we deliver on our commitments to the Australian government," said Davis.
Gillespie retired from the Australian Army in 2011 after 43 years of service. His military career started as a tradesman soldier and culminated with him commanding the Army – a 46,000 person organisation with an annual operating budget of approximately $6 billion.
"I am looking forward to working with the other directors to provide strategic direction and effective oversight to an organisation that’s not only strengthening Australia’s sovereign defence capabilities, but delivering the protection our nation deserves by building a local industry and an Australian workforce for generations," Gillespie said.
Since his retirement, Gillespie has been an active board participant whose current roles include chair of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute Council, Airbus Group Asia Pacific, Senetas Corporation, and the Anzac Research Institute.
He is also a member of the Government Advisory Panel for International SOS and is a member of the advisory board for Veolia Australia and New Zealand.
Gillespie said there has never been a more important, or exciting time, to support the growth of Australia’s shipbuilding industry.
Subscribe to the Defence Connect daily newsletter.
Be the first to hear the latest developments in the defence industry.
"Naval Group is implementing the program of a lifetime; one that will span decades and keep our country safe and deliver sovereign capabilities," said Gillespie.
Gillespie’s distinguished service and high order achievements in the armed forces saw him advance through the upper ranks and be awarded with prestigious international honours, including the Legion of Merit (Commander) from the US and the Meritorious Service Medal (Military – Pingat Jasa Gemilang) from the Republic of Singapore.
The Attack Class vessels will begin replacing the ageing Collins Class vessels at a time when 50 per cent of the world's submarines will be operating in the Indo-Pacific region.
Naval Group's successful Shortfin Barracuda design, which serves as the basis for the new Attack Class, is a conventionally powered variant of the nuclear powered Barracuda fast attack submarine currently under construction in France for the French Navy. Naval Group Australia (formerly DCNS) – a subsidiary of French shipbuilding company Naval Group – is Australia’s international design and build partner for the Future Submarine Program.
Naval Group Australia's involvement in this $50 billion project, supporting an annual average of about 2,800 jobs, amounts to more than just the design and construction of 12 submarines for the Australian Navy – and will also bolster local industry, create thousands of jobs and transfer world-class technology, knowledge and expertise to Australia.