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German shipbuilder eyes WA Asian base

Civmec's 120,000sqm head office and main facilities at the Australian Marine Complex in Henderson.
Civmec’s 120,000sqm head office and main facilities at the Australian Marine Complex in Henderson.

One of Germany’s oldest shipbuilders has flagged plans to set up a regional construction hub in WA, saying growing instability in Asia will present opportunities for local defence contracts.

German company Lurssen, one of three groups shortlisted to build a $1 billion fleet of corvettes for the Australian Navy, said it would likely recruit another 1000 local workers if it wins the contract.

The company is weighing buying into WA-based group Civmec as it looks for local partners to bid for the contract. Company chief executive Peter Lurssen said the company was on the hunt for a local base to serve the Asia-Pacific export market.

“Unfortunately, this part of the world is not without its own geopolitical tensions,” he said. “A warship is certainly one way to protect national sovereignty and authority in these waters.”

The Federal Government has promised to construct a fleet of 12 Offshore Patrol Vessels as part of its bigger plan to build a future fleet of warships and submarines.

TheCivmec site in Henderson.
TheCivmec site in Henderson.

In an apparent bid to appease voters in South Australia, the Government has said it would construct the first two OPVs in Adelaide and the remainder in WA.

Lurssen, which would team up with the Adelaide-based ASC as well as Civmec for the bid, would offer a variant of its Darussalam-class corvette for the Australians.

Four generations of Lurssens have run the company since it was founded in the 1870s.

Mr Lurssen said there was the potential to create a base in WA to export to the entire region.

“There is a very bright future for Australia’s shipbuilding industry that will see new jobs, new skills and new export opportunities,” he said.

Lurssen is competing with another German company, Fassmer, and the Dutch group Damen for the winning design.

Premier Mark McGowan has vowed to win more defence contracts for WA as the State looks to new industries in the face of the mining downturn.

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