A South Australia shipbuilder is part of an international consortium that has launched a joint bid that could see up to 21 Pacific patrol boats built at Port Adelaide.

The Federal Government is looking to replace the current fleet of the vessels, and put the project out to tender in March.

Adelaide Ship Construction International (ASCI) lodged its joint bid with the Defence Department on Wednesday, partnering with global construction-company Kellogg Brown and Root and naval shipbuilder Singapore Technologies Marine.

The project has been valued at more than $1 billion, with the patrol boats accounting for $594 million and estimated sustainment and personnel costs of $1.38 billion over 30 years.

The replacement patrol boats are intended for use in the Pacific region and will be donated to countries including Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga and East Timor.

“This bid is potentially a very competitive bid both on quality and costs but there’s a tender process, there’s a formal process underway,” South Australian Defence Industries Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith said.

“There will be other bidders and this particular project from Adelaide needs to take its place in the queue and put its best foot forward.”

ASCI is based at Port Adelaide, where it has workshops and slipways, and is one of the largest steel shipbuilders in Australia.

It has previously built vessels for defence, tourism and commercial fishing.

Mr Hamilton-Smith said if ASCI was successful, the project could provide jobs for retrenched Holden workers.

“It’s important work. It keeps welders, fitters, turners, boiler makers in jobs and it’s a productive and sensible way for Australian taxpayers to spend their money on foreign aid,” he said.

The current fleet of Pacific patrol boats includes 22 vessels distributed among 12 nations.

Defence said the aim of the patrol boat program is to allow Australia’s Pacific neighbours to “independently patrol and protect their exclusive economic zones”.

ABC News