A German firm looking to build 12 Offshore Patrol Vessels for the Royal Australian Navy has appointed a respected Australian military figure and a former federal cabinet minister to its Australian board.
Lürssen has appointed Vice Admiral (Ret'd) Chris Ritchie AO, former Chief of the Royal Australian Navy, and John Sharp, minister for transport in the Howard government. The shipbuilding firm said the pair's appointment will bring significant leadership, management, commercial and technical skill to Lürssen’s expanding Australian team.
The German shipbuilder's decision to appoint the retired Vice Admiral and former politician comes as the firm looks to establish a shipbuilding and naval export business in Australia.
Peter Lürssen, chief executive of Lürssen, said that Ritchie and Sharp bring an unrivalled understanding of the complexities of Australia’s naval shipbuilding sector, and the interface between government, the military and industry on major defence and infrastructure projects.
“Chris’ service in the Royal Australian Navy and at the most senior echelons of Defence, combined with John’s government background and extensive commercial experience with Airbus Australia, is a potent combination for our Australian board,” Lürssen said.
Ritchie said he was delighted at the opportunity to support Lürssen Australia’s ambition to introduce its 140-year heritage of shipbuilding excellence into the domestic and Asia-Pacific markets.
“As someone who has spent his entire adult life working in and around the Navy, I am looking forward to taking on this role at such a critical juncture for the future of Australia’s naval shipbuilding sector,” Ritchie said.
Sharp said he was excited to be joining the board and working with Ritchie in a rapidly evolving industrial sector with enormous potential for Australian jobs, skills and global competitiveness.
“The Australian naval shipbuilding sector is undergoing huge change and I am genuinely excited to be able to advocate for new investment that will help create jobs, economic growth and opportunity, including for Australian SMEs,” Sharp said.
Lürssen Australia is one of three shortlisted tenderers for the RAN’s SEA 1180 OPV Project, which will see the first two OPVs built at Osborne in South Australia, with the balance of 10 vessels constructed at Henderson in Western Australia.
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Lürssen is teaming with SA-based ASC Shipbuilding and WA-based Forgacs (a subsidiary of Civmec) as part of its bid for the project.
Dutch company Damen and German firm Fassmer are also shortlisted for the project.