Austal continues to demonstrate its commitment to enhancing its support offering to the United States Navy and other navies active in the Asia-Pacific region, announcing new strategic partnerships with regional shipyards at the IMDEX Asia defence exhibition in Singapore this week.
Following on from the strategic partnership with Singapore’s Sembawang Shipyard Pte Ltd announced in January 2013, Austal has now secured similar agreements with Unithai Shipyard and Engineering in Thailand and Cam Ranh Shipyard in Vietnam.
Austal Chief Executive Officer Andrew Bellamy stated: “We are very proud to have partnered with such reputable shipyards and we look forward to building mutually beneficial relationships to support the defence and commercial vessels in the region.
“In particular, we are focussed on developing a comprehensive capability tailored to support the requirements of the US Navy’s fleet of Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) and Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV), both of which are expected to operate in the region,” he said, noting that the first LCS recently deployed to the region.
Austal is currently contracted to build ten 103 metre JHSVs under a US$1.6 billion contract and eight 127 metre Independence-variant LCSs, six of which are a part of a 10-ship US$3.5 billion contract. Austal has already delivered one LCS and one JHSV.
“We have our own people and facilities in the western and northern Australia, as well as in the Philippines, and we are now well down the road of expanding our support capability both geographically and in terms of facilities and manpower,” Mr Bellamy said.
“Aligning with these capable shipyards is an efficient and effective way of rapidly expanding the area and customer base to which we can make our specialist capabilities available.”
Unithai MOU provides US Navy with quality Thai option
Austal’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Unithai Shipyard and Engineering, Thailand’s premier shipyard, strengthens the companies’ cooperation and collaboration in sharing expertise and providing high-quality ship repair services to support defence and commercial vessels operating in the Asia-Pacific region.
Based on the MOU, Unithai Shipyard will be Austal’s preferred repair shipyard for US-owned commercial and defence vessels, such as the LCSs and JHSVs, that require repairs when operating near Thailand.
“We recognise that Unithai Shipyard is one of largest integrated ship repair facilities in Thailand , with a world-class reputation based on its commitment to high standards covering health, safety and the environment, timely delivery, superior customer service and innovative solutions,” said Andrew Bellamy.
“In particular, it has a track record as one of the world’s leading shipyards specialising in the repair, conversion and maintenance of commercial, defence and auxiliary vessels. We believe Unithai Shipyard provides high quality professional services that can meet our customers’ expectations.”
Unithai Shipyard’s Managing Director, Teerapon Udomkanjananan said: “The MOU is not only a significant milestone allowing Unithai Shipyard to step forward and exchange experience and expertise with a globally reputable defence prime contractor and shipbuilder, but it is also essential to promoting the shipyard industry in Thailand.
“Unithai Shipyard is strongly committed to delivering the best-quality service in the entire range of ship repair projects referred by Austal.”
Vietnamese shipyard has MSC track record
In Vietnam, Austal has signed an MOU with Cam Ranh Shipyard. The modern shipyard is strategically located in one of the best deep water harbours in the world, approximately equal distances from Hong Kong, Manila and Singapore.
“Cam Ranh Shipyard has already carried out work on multiple Military Sealift Command ships, which demonstrates it has the ability to undertake repair and maintenance to MSC requirements effectively and cost-efficiently,” Mr Bellamy said.
“Our expertise with high speed craft such as the LCSs and MSC-operated JHSVs will enable Cam Ranh Shipyard to expand on its existing activities, and Austal to provide better support ships operating in or transiting through the western part of the South China Sea,” he said.
Established in 2005, Cam Ranh Shipyard first performed maintenance on an MSC ship, the dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Richard E. Byrd, in March 2010. That work was undertaken in Van Phong Bay but the following year the ship spent seven days at the shipyard for routine maintenance and repairs – the first visit by a US Navy ship to Cam Ranh Bay in more than three decades.
Further history was made in June 2012 when then US Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, visited the ship while it was again in Cam Ranh Bay for maintenance. Panetta was the first defense secretary and the highest-ranking US official to visit the Vietnamese port since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975.
The MOU was signed by Mr Bui Huu Sy, Chairman of Cam Ranh Shipyard, and Mr Mike Little, who is Austal’s Singapore-based Regional Service Manager for the Asia-Pacific region.
Cam Ranh Shipyard is one of 26 shipyards within the Vietnam Shipbuilding Industry Group (Vinashin), which is majority-owned by the Vietnamese Government. Recognising the importance of the new agreement, the signing was also attended by Vinashin’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Truong Van Tuyen, and Vice President, Mr Nguyen Quoc Anh.