It may be headquartered in one of the world’s most remote cities – Perth – but Australia’s only publicly listed shipbuilding company has proven itself a global force.
In 25 years of operation, Austal has supplied more than 255 customised vessels to 44 countries, including major clients such as the US Navy and the Royal Navy of Oman.
In August, Austal marked a significant milestone when it delivered its third Littoral Combat Ship to the US Navy, the USS Jackson. The ship was part of a 10-vessel, $US3.5 billion contract, that when completed – in conjunction with another $US1.6 billion contract for 10 Expeditionary Fast Transport vessels – will see Austal having built 15 per cent of the entire US Navy fleet.
During the same month, the Federal Government announced it would invest more than $89 billion in ships and submarines for the Australian navy over the next 20 years. It also committed to implementing a continuous build of surface warships in Australia.
At the time, Austal CEO Andrew Bellamy said the continuous build program would “ensure Australia’s shipbuilding industry is internationally competitive, and lay the pathway to expanding naval exports from Australia”.
Mr Bellamy said Austal’s shipbuilding yard in Henderson, Western Australia, had already proven that Australian shipbuilding could be internationally competitive as the company continued to export naval ships.
Austal, founded in 1988 and now an ASX-200 company with shipyards in Western Australia, the US and the Philippines, has also designed, built and supported Australia’s entire border patrol fleet of vessels for the past 17 years.
Most recently, Austal delivered eight Cape Class Patrol Boats over 2013-2015 as part of a $330 million contract with the Australian Border Force.
Improved efficiencies and a growing logbook of work on major navy defence and patrol boat programs saw the company break its own records last financial year, posting a 26 per cent jump in revenue globally (to $1.4 billion), and a 66 per cent increase in profits (to $53.2 million).
Much of Austal’s success has come from its commitment to advanced ship design and technology innovation. The company, which now employs more than 300 naval engineers, has developed, constructed and provided support for hundreds of vessels, from offshore windfarm vessels, to patrol boats and surface warfare combatants.
It’s also been at the forefront of the high-speed passenger and vehicle-passenger ferry market.
Another large naval vessel program on schedule is a $US124.9 million contract for two 72 metre, high-speed support vessels for the Royal Navy of Oman. The first of these vessels was rolled out at the Western Australia shipyard on October 16, and is due for delivery in early 2016.
Austal is continuing to pursue defence and commercial opportunities in Australia and worldwide. It recently submitted a tender for the design, construction and sustainment of 21 Pacific Patrol Boats for Pacific Island nations.