Austal has thrown in its lot with German shipbuilder Fassmer’s bid for the Federal Government’s $3 billion offshore patrol vessels program.
The Henderson-based company has secured a deal which would see Austal build all 12 ships if Fassmer was successful.
That would include the first two vessels to be built in South Australia.
The final 10 vessels are supposed to be built in WA.
The move follows Dutch bidder Damen naming engineering firm Civmec as its preferred WA contractor.
Fassmer, Damen and another German shipbuilder, Lurssen, are the short-listed companies to design and deliver the Navy vessels. Final bids are being lodged in April.
It’s believed Austal considered Fassmer the best placed contender of the three.
The Henderson operation of British defence company BAE Systems is viewed as the third candidate in WA to do the OPV construction work. The company would not confirm if it was connected with Lurssen’s bid for the program, known as SEA1180.
“BAE Systems Australia is looking at opportunities for our Henderson facility to support the SEA1180 program,” a spokeswoman said. “We have developed a strategically important capability at our facility delivering the successful ANZAC refit and upgrade program.
“Use of the skills and expertise in future Navy programs will drive significant value for the Royal Australian Navy.”
Australian Strategic Policy Institute senior analyst Andrew Davies did not believe there was a clear favourite among the three contenders.
“Defence will make their decision based on Defence’s criteria,” Dr Davies said.
“Any of the three contenders could produce a pretty viable offshore patrol vessel. We’re not talking the top end of naval warship design here.”