AMC to train submarine makers
Technicians employed to research, customise, build and maintain Australia's $50 billion fleet of Shortfin Barracuda submarines will undergo training in Tasmania.
The University of Tasmania signed a Memorandum Of Understanding with four French institutions in March for the joint training of the submarine workforce at the Australian Maritime College (AMC) in Launceston.
The 12 submarines will be built in Adelaide's Osborne shipyards by French contractor, DCNS.
They will replace six Australian-built Collins-class submarines that have been in service since 1996.
UTAS's Deputy Vice-chancellor, Professor Monique Skidmore, said the training contract signed in Nantes, France, would be a boost for Launceston.
"This workforce will travel between Launceston and France to gain ... qualifications," she said.
"They will do at least 50 per cent of their training in Tasmania, and then that will ... generate lots more opportunities for what we hope is a Defence precinct in Launceston," Professor Skidmore told the ABC.
"There's an enormous amount of research and development that needs to go on to be able to create these submarines, and all of that high-level thinking, expertise, will occur in Launceston."
Training will begin in Tasmania in September 2018.
The Minister for State Growth, Matthew Groom, said "It will put the [AMC] at the forefront of the teaching and research work that will inform the delivery of Australia's submarine fleet."
He said the State Government had worked to ensure Tasmania received its fair share of Defence contracting.
"In order to increase our share of Defence spending, we need to ensure that we have the skills and the linkages with the Defence sector to contribute to significant national projects such as this," Mr Groom said.
DCNS has built more than 100 submarines for nine countries.
Its contract with the Australian Government is expected to generate work over a 30-year time-span.
DCNS has well-established relationships with the four French signatories to the training agreement: ENSTA ParisTech; École Centrale de Nantes; CentraleSupélec; and École Polytechnique.
Professor Arnaud Poitou, Director of École Centrale de Nantes, said: “This MOU is important as it gives a long-term perspective which allows us to grow something strong and enduring.
Professor Skidmore said: “This agreement has come about because of our university’s capacity for inter-disciplinary research and our highly regarded pedigree in the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
"It is why the university is pursuing a vision for a STEM Precinct in Hobart, which would considerably enhance these strengths, which could then be leveraged for the benefit of the entire State.”
The AMC says its Defence-related strengths include:
- Workforce-reskilling through world-class facilities and expertise for the training of maritime engineers, ship designers and fleet personnel;
- The design, development and application of modern smart Defence technologies, through a centre of excellence in autonomous underwater vehicles;
- Research capacity through the Australian Research Council Research Centre for Naval Design and Manufacturing; and
- Advanced simulation and simulator design to enhance workforce capabilities.
However, The Federal Government has announced plans for a Maritime Technical College to be established in South Australia, raising fears that funding will be directed away from the AMC.
UTAS Provost Professor, Mike Calford, said: “We have spent five years building the AMC towards financial sustainability and the emerging key to this was a Defence and design precinct developed around the existing site.
“This outcome is perplexing, given the bipartisan support of the Tasmanian Senators last month [for] the AMC’s capacity as a Defence training and research provider.”
A spokesperson for the Minister for Defence Industry, Christopher Pyne, said the new technical college would complement rather than compete with existing institutions.
"The Government remains committed to the world-class education that is provided by the Australian Maritime College," the spokesperson said.
"Given the AMC's track record in providing excellent training, they are in the box seat to provide training into the [new college's] training network."
Image courtesy of the Royal Australian Navy
7 April 2017, Edition 182