As a maritime nation, Australia is dependent on unlimited access to the ocean – as the regional paradigm changes, there is greater strain on the Navy to protect the national interests and naval assets like the Canberra Class amphibious warfare ships, combined with concerns about the continuity of Australia's sovereign naval shipbuilding industry in between major programs.
With the Defence Industrial Capability Plan and the $95 billion Naval Shipbuilding Plan setting out how the government is delivering on the commitment to build a strong, sustainable and innovative Australian naval shipbuilding industry.
The NSP states, "The goal of the Naval Shipbuilding Plan is to ensure that the regeneration of the Royal Australian Navy over the coming decades will ensure both a cost-effective solution for the government provide Navy the assured capability to fight and win. The National Naval Shipbuilding Office has been established to implement the Naval Shipbuilding Plan."
With $95 billion worth of naval shipbuilding programs, the Royal Australian Navy and naval shipbuilding industry would appear to be in an enviable position, however, the long lead time on key programs and ramp-up in delivery poses challenges for industry – in particular, the $50 billion SEA 1000 Attack Class submarine and $35 billion Hunter Class programs face the potential for delay as a result of growing windows between the construction periods of major surface warships and submarines in Australia.
Delivering these costly, complex and highly sensitive defence mega projects is not without its challenges, requiring leading-edge engineers, project managers and related specialists capable of supporting prime contractors, value adding small-to-medium enterprises and Navy throughout the various stages of the platform life cycle.
Enter Nova Systems, which is leveraging its long standing relationships with the Royal Australian Navy and the broader Australian Defence Force across a range of domains, including the maritime and naval shipbuilding domains in particular to across a range of programs to support the sustainment of the existing Navy and delivery of next generation capabilities.
Lee Kormany, general manager, maritime, land and future systems, spoke to Defence Connect about the future of Australia's naval shipbuilding industry, saying, "It is an exciting time for incoming engineers and project managers, particularly as major programs like SEA 1000, SEA 5000 and SEA 1180 ramp up the really get to engage with leading-edge capabilities."
Nova Systems brings a wealth of complex project and program management experience to Navy and its long-term recapitalisation programs, beginning with the Hobart Class air warfare destroyer.
More than 60 engineering, project management and operational consultants have contributed across the following areas:
- Test and activation including harbour and sea trials;
- Combat systems engineering;
- Program/project management;
- Risk management;
- Electronic warfare;
- Sonar engineering and operational support;
- System safety and hazardous materials; and
- Operational support.
The support provided by Nova over many years has contributed to the successful launch of all three AWD ships: HMAS Hobart, HMAS Brisbane and HMAS Sydney.
With Hobart now in operational service with the Australian Navy, and Brisbane conducting crew work ups, work has continued on HMAS Sydney, now alongside at Techport in Adelaide, and Nova is continuing to provide high-end services in support of the harbour and sea trials, engineering support and acceptance services, system safety and sea release activities.
"Nova worked closely with the Air Warfare Destroyer Alliance (ASC, Raytheon and the Commonwealth Project Office) throughout the last 12 years, providing a firm grasp for the Navy's plans moving forward. This participation and the quality of Nova's services have seen the company currently supporting SEA 1180 as part of the OPV acquisition process and we are currently supporting the military hydrographic capability as part of SEA 2480 Phase 1," Kormany added.
Resourcing the growing list of naval shipbuilding programs is not without its challenges, particularly as SEA 1180, SEA 5000 and SEA 1000 all gather pace, placing increasing strain upon the skilled workforce available. Nova has responded with an extensive proactive plan to develop the next generation of Australia's naval shipbuilding engineering and project management experts.
The Nova Graduate Development Program (NGDP) is designed to attract, recruit and retain graduates who have demonstrated the potential to make high level contributions to Nova, both now and in the future.
The NGDP aims to foster the personal and professional development of graduates, providing them with the experience, supervision, mentoring and training necessary to assist them with succeeding in their future careers with the Nova Group and to be recognised by their associated professional body.
In the maritime and submarine domains, Nova has seen great success in developing a pool of graduates in some key Defence projects (examples include SEA 4000 Air Warfare Destroyer, SEA 1180 Offshore Patrol Vessel, including a deployment to Germany for 12 months) and it is currently in negotiations to find placements within SEA 1000 Future Submarine.
The graduates are given a great support network and an environment where they can fast track their development. Feedback from clients has been fantastic and we have a proven track record of graduates not only quickly becoming valued members of the team but raising team energy and morale. The maritime program is looking to bring on a further three graduates in this year’s intake.
"The exciting thing for the next generation of Nova employees is that the government's commitment to building a long-term, sustainable naval shipbuilding program means their involvement is a long-term, sustainable program offering a career in supporting the delivery of the future of the nation's naval capability," Kormany finished.
Nova Systems is a professional service provider, specialising in the provision of engineering and management services, providing industry and government with world-class independent expertise in delivering complex projects and solving technologically challenging problems.