In just under 30 years of operation, Austal has become one of Australia’s leading shipbuilders and defence prime contractors. Commencing operation in Perth, Western Australia, Austal now has shipyards in the USA, the Philippines and China.
“Australia’s shipbuilding industry is absolutely critical to developing our island nation’s sovereign capability and maritime self-sufficiency,” says David Singleton, Austal Chief Executive Officer.
“Since 1988, Austal has delivered 266 vessels to more than 100 operators in 44 countries. Approximately 80% of Austal’s global production is delivered to overseas customers and export sales continue to underpin our proven business model and future growth plans,” says David.
“Efic has been helping Austal win export orders since 1994 and has helped fund 18 contracts, comprising a total of 33 vessels, worth over A$1.234 billion. Efic’s contribution to Austal’s export business cannot be understated.”
“The support from Efic has helped Austal grow internationally through the provision of competitive finance for our customers and reliable, valuable advice and professional support whenever and wherever we needed it. This has in turn led to the creation of many hundreds of jobs, stable employment, investment in research and development and advanced manufacturing, and opportunities across the Australian supply chain,” says David.
Efic’s most recent funding support for Austal was for a A$108 million contract to design, build and sustain a new 109 metre high-speed catamaran for Fjord Line of Norway.
“This all-aluminium ferry design incorporates key innovations including Austal’s largest ever vehicle carrying capacity of 404 cars, increased fuel efficiency and improved manoeuvring capability in strong winds,” says David.
“The vessel will be operating on the Skagerrak Sea between Hirtshals, Denmark and Kristiansand, Norway. Passenger comfort was a key consideration for Fjord Line, with Austal’s customised layout and interior design focusing on delivering greater natural light, seating and public spaces - including retailing (duty free store) and entertainment areas.”
The contract from Fjord Line is Austal’s eighth very large high-speed commercial ferry (over 100 metres in length). The vessel will join Fjord Line’s fleet of four ferries operating in the Scandinavian region following delivery from Austal’s Henderson, Western Australia shipyard in January 2020.
Phil Paterson, Director, Corporate, Sovereign and Project Finance at Efic, managed the Austal financing support and says the opportunities within the local community are a fantastic outcome of the contract.
“Austal’s latest contract will provide genuine opportunities for the local community in Western Australia. Austal will be recruiting 100 new apprentices, many of which will work on the Fjord Line project,” says Phil.
“Austal employs over 670 people at the Henderson shipyard, so the benefits to the local community from a contract of this size and value, in terms of employment and supply chain opportunities, are substantial. A large number of Australian suppliers are anticipated to be engaged for the 109 metre Fjord Line project; with many hundreds of indirect jobs created throughout supporting industry,” says Phil.
With the Government’s $89 billion Naval Shipbuilding Plan recently announced, David says Australia’s shipbuilding industry is playing a key, national building role and driving new growth in manufacturing, “In addition, the commercial fast ferry and offshore work boat market segments are key growth areas for Austal and will provide export orders in to the future,” says David.