Austal has allocated its first shipbuilding project to its recently acquired shipyard in the Philippines. Construction of the vessel will commence in the first quarter of this year, and provide work through to November.
Austal acquired the shipyard in the West Cebu Industrial Park in Balamban, Cebu in November last year as part of a strategy to regionalise its manufacturing base for commercial vessels. Austal is currently making significant investments to further enhance the shipyard’s capabilities.
Austal’s Chief Operating Officer – Asia, Greg Jason, said: “The $5 million enhancement programme is well underway, utilising local employees and contractors.
“Recruitment has commenced for approximately 70 staff and that process has confirmed that the existing pool of local tradespeople is of high quality and has highly relevant experience in building similar vessels”.
Future workforce growth is expected in line with market demand, and the site allows for efficient expansion of the facility when future operational and market conditions require.
Austal’s significant intellectual property (IP) in the design and construction of commercial vessels will be utilised at its Philippines operations, which will help ensure that Austal’s quality and performance standards are maintained.
The first contract being undertaken is the first of a new Austal wind farm support vessel design which will enable safer and more efficient transfers of crew and equipment to offshore wind turbines. The vessel will be a prime example of the knowledge transfer that will occur between the operations in Australia and the Philippines.
Mr Jason said “The combination of the new design and new manufacturing location shows how Austal is applying its existing knowledge and expertise to develop emerging markets”.
The 27.4 metre long, 10.5 metre wide vessel will be operated by three crew and be able to transfer wind farm technicians as well as deck cargo, stores and miscellaneous equipment up to 75 nautical miles offshore. It will operate at 23 knots (42 km/hour).
The vessel is being built for Turbine Transfers, an existing Austal customer and well-established operator in the growing European offshore wind farm industry. The new vessel is designed to operate in ocean areas of all European countries, including the demanding conditions of the North, Irish and Baltic Seas.
Austal is able to provide high quality in-service support for the vessel through its now well-established European Service Centre. These services include vessel and fleet maintenance; refit and repair; equipment and systems support; and consultancy. Austal provides these support services to a wide range of vessel types, including vessels not built by Austal.
Whilst the Philippines is gearing up to take on commercial vessels, Austal’s Henderson facility is preparing to commence manufacturing of the Cape Class Patrol Boats for the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. The eight vessels will be delivered between March 2013 and August 2015.
Austal’s US shipbuilding operation remains busy with two multi-ship projects for the United States Navy.