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Techport Common-User Facility
Osborne, South Australia

In 2002, the Australian Naval Shipbuilding and Repair Sector Strategic Plan reported on the infrastructure at Osborne in South Australia. It recorded that the 20 acre site had a shiplift (5048 dwt capacity, 80m x 20m), side transfer rails, manufacturing halls, adjacent hull and outfitting workshops, various workshops and alongside berthing of 160 metres. The strategic plan found that the site had the capacity to be developed to cater for a considerably greater level of demand, including consolidation and upgrade of vessels proposed under SEA 4000, JP2048/JP2027 and SEA 1654.

At the same time, a report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) noted that significant facility development was required at the site for participation in major surface ship module construction or ship assembly.

Since 2002, the South Australian government has actively promoted the naval shipbuilding industry in that state by committing to develop further the site at Osborne. It has developed a plan that builds on the presence of ASC at Port Adelaide to 'provide the critical mass of naval shipbuilding infrastructure and a skilled work force that can deliver the next generation'. Planning was well advanced to 'transform industrial land at Port Adelaide into a modern internationally competitive shipbuilding site that can become the future hub of naval warship construction in Australia'. The Allen Consulting Group noted that: "the ASC at Osborne has a capability in conventional submarine construction and support that is probably unrivalled outside Europe."

The facility at Osborne has been designed around common user facilities to enable any shipbuilder to come onto the site to use the infrastructure. The centrepiece of the infrastructure aspect of the plan comprises a 10 000 ton ship lift, wharf and transfer system representing a current budget of approximately $130 million.

The configuration of the complex enables a builder from the back block, where the infrastructure will be developed, to gain access to the water through the ship lift. Thirty hectares of land has been set aside where the government hoped to see a 'fully integrated submarine and shipbuilding supplier and subcontractor precinct'. Adjacent to the shipbuilding infrastructure, the government intended to make available more than 100 hectares at Port Adelaide as a 'high technology defence industrial hub'.

Mr Andrew Fletcher, CEO, Port Adelaide Maritime Corporation, noted progress in achieving the state government's objective to develop a long-term sustainable defence base at Osborne: "There are the common user facilities There is the suppliers precinct at the rear. That was initially 30 hectares; we now control 500 hectares of land on the peninsula and in the adjacent area for future development. There is also the development of the air warfare destroyer system centre and the skills centre in a hub that we are building."

The base itself is in the heart of South Australia's busiest international port. It is 18 kilometres from the central business district and 16 kilometres from the international airport. According to Mr Fletcher: "on completion of the road and rail bridges across the Port River, which are anticipated by the end of next year, it will be connected directly by rail and road to the rest of Australia. So it is a unique piece of real estate that is attractive not just to the defence industry and the SMEs supporting the defence industry but to industry as a whole in South Australia"

On Feb. 15, 2010 US Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III observed the opening of the heart of one of the most modern shipbuilding plants in the world. Lynn put on a hard hat and a yellow reflective vest to tour the facility. He saw buildings and shops where plates of steel will turn into the hulls of new ships. He saw where skilled workers will put together the modules of Australias next-generation warships. Lynn observed the opening of Techports common-user facility a huge expanse that includes a wharf, a ship runway, a dry berth, a transfer system and the largest shiplift in the Southern Hemisphere. To symbolize the opening of the facility, South Australia Premier Mike Rann pushed a button starting the shiplift. A klaxon sounded, and the more-than-500-foot lift began descending into the water. Great to see such a fabulous facility and see the enormous capability that you have here in an area so important to your security, Lynn said during a short media availability following the opening. Its very hopeful that our closest allies are moving in such strength in the naval area. Were just glad to be a part of it.

Techport is a $300 million investment in Australias defense. The shipyard is where the nation of 22 million people will build the countrys next class of air warfare destroyers and its next-generation submarine fleet. The shipyard on the banks of the Port River is a state-of-the-art facility. The lift has a capacity of 9,300 tons, and may in years to come expand to nearly 700 feet with a lift capacity of 22,000 tons. The plan to build three destroyers is part of an Australian push to replace about 80 percent of the equipment in its military forces that stems from the Australian Defense White Paper published in May.

Techport and many other decisions backs up the defense White Paper, Lynn said. Techport is part of a really strong industrial foundation that supports the maritime emphasis in the strategy, he said. While the shipyard is an Australian capability, it integrates U.S. defense industry partners. Bath Iron Works and Lockheed are working with the Australians, and Im sure if the U.S. Navy needed it to support our operations, it would be available, and its an option for the Pacific Command to examine, Lynn said.

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Page last modified: 27-03-2012 18:12:55 ZULU