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Speech at the keel laying ceremony for the future Air Warfare Destroyer Hobart

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Minister for Defence Stephen Smith - Keel laying ceremony for the future Air Warfare Destroyer Hobart.

6 September 2012




DATE: 6 September 2012

TOPICS: Air Warfare Destroyer Keel Laying.

STEPHEN SMITH: Thank you very much, Rod, thank you for that welcome, and thank you for

your remarks. In particular, thank you for endorsing the close cooperation that we’ve seen in

this project, not just from Government and Navy, but from the Air Warfare Destroyer,

Alliance, its constituent members and ASC.

And very pleased to hear your welcoming comments about the re-baselining, which we’ll see

worked at this shipyard on the Air Warfare Destroyer projects until 2019.

There are many distinguished guests here today, can I acknowledge firstly Jay Weatherill, the

Premier of South Australia, can I acknowledge my Ministerial colleagues, Penny Wong, the

Minister for Finance, shareholder for ASC, and Senator for South Australia, Jason Clare, the

Minister for Defence Materiel, and Senator David Fawcett, Senator for South Australia.

Can I also acknowledge, the Chief of the Defence Force, General Hurley, and the Chief of

Navy, Ray Griggs, other distinguished guests, members of the Australian Defence Force,

ladies and gentlemen.

Well, this is a very significant day for Navy, a very significant day for Defence, a significant

day for this shipyard, and for South Australia, and a significant day for the Navy ship building

industry, and the Australian ship building industry generally, and as Steve said in his earlier

remarks, it’s a significant occasion for the Chief of Navy, as he engages in the keel laying.

Now Ray’s going to do that with the two youngest apprentices on site, Ray is also the

youngest three-star Chief of Navy that we’ve had, he’s brought his own coins, they’re both

worth $4 billion each.

But as I say, this is a very significant day. We’re constructing three Hobart-class Air Warfare

Destroyers based on the Navantia Spanish design at a project cost of about $8 billion, and we

see here what will be the Hobart, and subsequently we’ll see the Brisbane and the Sydney.

And this is currently the largest Defence procurement project that we have in Australia.

So each of the AWDs, we see the construction of 90 - 30 blocks each, 90 blocks, plus three

specialist sonar blocks. Eighty of those blocks we construct in Australia, and some 24 or 25

here, and the three sonar blocks in Spain, together with 10 at the Navantia shipyard in Spain

as well.

All up, that sees about 2,500 people employed on this project throughout Australia, and as

Steve and Rod both said, that sees some 700 workers in this shipyard, and some 800 other

people employed throughout Adelaide and South Australia on the back-up work, on the

engineering, the combat systems, the sustainment, the project management and the like.

So following the keel laying ceremony today, over the next few months we’ll see the next

phase, the consolidation phase of the three Air Warfare Destroyers.

Hobart, we’ll see delivered in 2016, Brisbane in 2017, and Sydney in 2019, and what that

means, as I mentioned earlier, is that we’ll see steady and secure work in this shipyard for

the workforce here until 2019.

One of the very good success stories of this project has been the way in which the Air

Warfare Destroyer Alliance, and its constituent partners, have worked very closely together,

and one of the ways in which that has been able to be effective, has been through the good

work of the Defence Materiel Organisation, and can I single out Warren King, the CEO of the

Defence Materiel Organisation, for his long term passion, commitment and dedication to this


One of the ways in which Warren has helped ensure that this project stays on course, was to

ensure that the project had a Systems Centre which is based in Adelaide, and today, later

today, I’ll be announcing with Minister Clare, the Defence Materiel Minister, that we’ll be

establishing the Future Submarine project system centre here in Adelaide, based on the

model of the Air Warfare Destroyer systems centre.

And that will see a steady flow of work from the Air Warfare Destroyer project, the Landing

Helicopter Docks project, and then the Future Submarines project, as we see in the

Government’s view, a positive and optimistic future for the Navy ship building industry, and

Australia’s ship building industry.

When they are completed, these warships will be the most capable warships or destroyers

that the Australian Navy has had, with state-of-the-art sensor and weapon systems, including

long-range, anti-aircraft missiles.

So they will be a significant capability for Navy, and a significant capability for Defence.

Can I thank everyone associated with the project for bringing us to the stage we’re at today,

in particular, can I thank the tremendous workforce here, a dedicated workforce, committed

to the project, committed to the excellence and committed to ensuring that the product that

they see is a first class product for Navy, a first class product for Australia, and a first class

product for Defence.

I thank you all very much, and we look forward to further significant days and further

celebrations as this most important project progresses through to the end of three Air

Warfare Destroyers by 2019.

Can I thank you very much for your efforts, and can I ask the Premier of South Australia, Jay

Weatherill, to make some remarks.

Thank you.