A $2 BILLION tender for an Australian patrol boat replacement program has been catapulted within close grasp of a Cairns consortium amid news a major rival has canned its contract bid. 

The country’s biggest defence company, BAE Systems, this week bowed out of the running for a project involving the construction of 21 patrol boats worth $594 million plus providing support, maintenance and personnel over 30 years, which was worth another $1.38 billion.

The company claimed it wouldn’t be viable to rebuild a workforce for the program so soon after existing projects were due to be completed. The withdrawal is good for BSE Maritime Solutions, which has joined Norship Marine and other firms to tender. 

BSE’s Brian Keller said the elimination of a ‘senior player’ had shifted the tender firmly within sight. “From our perspective, they were the ones to beat,” he said. 

“We know of at least one company that didn’t bid at all because they thought that it would probably go with BAE. Withdrawal of such a substantial player increases our chances substantially”.

Mr Keller said he understood the local consortium was pitted against five bidders including one from Singapore. But he said the group had a competitive bid. 

“We have assumed that the competition was going to be tough so we have put our very best food forward,” he said.

– Anika Hume, Cairns Post.