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Defence consortium to deliver future shipbuilding workforce

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An Offshore Patrol Vessel contender and a group of defence and maritime companies have joined forces to deliver a new program in shipbuilding education and apprenticeships.

An Offshore Patrol Vessel contender and a group of defence and maritime companies have joined forces to deliver a new program in shipbuilding education and apprenticeships.

In a move to ensure Lürssen's Shipbuilding Education and Apprenticeship (SEA) program delivers first-class results, the German shipbuilder and its OPV teaming partners, ASC Shipbuilding and Civmec/Forgacs, have partnered with South Australian peak industry body Defence Teaming Centre, which will manage the program and liaise with education providers.

The announcement was made in Adelaide as Peter Lürssen, chief executive of Lürssen, toured the ASC facilities. Designer Lürssen and shipbuilding partners ASC Shipbuilding and Civmec/Forgacs is bidding for the Australian government’s SEA 1180 Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) program, which is expected to be decided in coming weeks.


The SEA program is designed to strengthen the OPV project and Australia’s ability to meet rapidly increased demand for maritime and shipbuilding skills and qualifications, as the federal government establishes sovereign continuous naval shipbuilding. 

Lürssen and its industry partners will offer 12 scholarships valued at $10,000 each, per year, covering tuition and study related costs for relevant shipbuilding courses.

Applications for 2018 scholarships will open if and when the Lürssen-ASC Shipbuilding-Civmec/Forgacs team secure the OPV project, and close in mid-February in time for the beginning of the university and TAFE year.

Internships at Lürssen, ASC Shipbuilding and Civmec/Forgacs would also be offered to the three most promising scholarship students, giving valuable hands-on experience at nation- and world-leading facilities, including the latest warship design and manufacturing expertise.

In its first year of operation, the SEA program will be made available to students from universities and vocational education institutions within the recently developed Defence Industry Education and Skills Consortium (DIESC), as well as the University of Western Australia and Charles Darwin University. DIESC institutions include the University of South Australia, the University of Adelaide, Flinders University, RMIT University, Edith Cowan University, South Metropolitan TAFE and TAFE SA.

Peter Lürssen said Lürssen Australia was committed to establishing an export hub within Australia, as well as  meeting and exceeding Australia’s skilling, warship design and construction requirements, as set out in the Naval Shipbuilding Plan, released in May this year.

“Much like our approach in Europe, which incorporates successful exports, we will set up an export hub within Australia to service this region, which is seeing rapid strategic and military developments," said Lürssen.

"It makes perfect sense for us to be investing in local skills and talent. We expect the SEA program to be one way of developing future leaders of Australia’s world-class local industry."

Mark Lamarre, CEO of ASC Shipbuilding, said the SEA initiative built on the company’s existing commitment and programs to boost STEM, vocational education and university-level education in the maritime and shipbuilding industry.

“We’re excited about the future of the OPV program and Lürssen’s export strategy, which we fully support," said Lamarre.

"ASC Shipbuilding shares the commitment of our partners as well as many young Australians to seizing the opportunities that will present themselves in the coming years, as part of the government’s naval shipbuilding agenda. We want to see thousands more bright young Australians entering the industry at every level."

CEO of the Defence Teaming Centre Margot Forster said it is excited to play a leading role in the program and the future of Australian shipbuilding. 

“The Defence Teaming Centre is proud to be a part of this program and encourages more companies to take Lürssen and its partners’ lead and invest in the future of shipbuilding in this country," Forster said.

Lürssen is competing against Dutch company Damen, which has also partnered with ASC and Civmec/Forgacs, and German company Fassmer, which has partnered with Austal.

The successful company will construct two of the 12 vessels in South Australia before the project is moved to Western Australia.